Tag Archives: Drew Smith

B2B Product & Service Comparison Sites: The Major Players

In our first post in this blog series on crowdsourcing the evaluation of B2B product and service providers, we made the case that B2B companies are very much seeking a “Yelp”-type resource to help them understand which technologies are worth their investment. In that post, we examined Gartner Peer Insights and determined that the site is without question one of the best resources currently out there. In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into a handful of the other sites that are currently gaining popularity amongst B2B technology buyers.

Taking a step back, companies are increasingly clamoring for these comparison sites because the foundational technology infrastructure that helps a B2B company run its business – servers, storage appliances, networking gear, etc. – requires investments ranging from tens of thousands of dollars to millions, so making the wrong purchase can be costly. And the same is true for services most B2B companies invest in, including subscriptions with research and analyst firms (Gartner, IDC, Forrester, etc.) – which can each carry a price tag of $50,000 or more.

So, while Gartner Peer Insights looks to be the clear leader in the space, following is an overview of some of the other emerging sites that are making noise:

G2 Crowd
Billing itself as “real-time and unbiased user reviews help you objectively assess what is best for your business,” G2 Crowd’s review platform leverages nearly 500,000 independent and authenticated user reviews for more than 1.5 million buyers each month. The site offers reviews for a very wide range of B2B software, including CRM, content development, security and CAD, and also provides review of B2B services – such as branding agencies, IT outsourcing and on-demand staffing.

Perhaps indicative of G2 Crowd’s ambitions to take market share from the “Big 3” analyst firms (Gartner, IDC and Forrester), the site also provides research reports. The Grid and Index Reports are released on a quarterly basis, and rank products based on reviews gathered from G2 Crowd’s user community, as well as data aggregated from online sources and social networks.

Capterra
Capterra’s tagline is “software selection simplified,” and the site features more than 500,000 validated user reviews. And if G2 Crowd’s range of software reviews is wide, then Capterra’s selection is G2 Crowd “on steroids” – with more than 600 software categories!

In addition, just like G2 Crowd, Capterra offers independent research – although not in the form of detailed reports along the lines of a Gartner Magic Quadrant or Forrester Wave, but rather collections of reviews and guides loosely coupled together under a “resources” banner.

Product Hunt
While G2 Crowd and Capterra appear to position themselves against Gartner Peer Insights to grab a slice of the B2B pie, Product Hunt has more of a developer focus. The site describes itself as “a place for product-loving enthusiasts to share and geek out about the latest mobile apps, websites, hardware projects, and tech creations.”

Backed by Y Combinator, Product Hunt has users submit products, which are listed in a linear format by day. The site includes a comments system and a voting system similar to Hacker News or Reddit, and the products with the most votes rise to the top of each day’s list.

With its voting-based system and major focus on consumer products, Product Hunt is likely not the first stop the average B2B technology buyer would make when evaluating all products – but it may serve as a good barometer of the types of technologies used by developers.

CNET
CNET positions itself as “the world’s leader in tech product reviews, news, prices, videos, forums, how-tos and more.” CNET is as much a publication as a product comparison site, and its reviews tend to lean towards the consumer than the B2B buyer – with the majority of reviews focusing on gadgets such as phones, cameras, headphones, etc.

CNET’s consumer focus likely means it’s not a “must-visit” destination for a B2B buyer – but the fact that it offers news on the B2B tech sector may make it an attractive additional resource for B2B tech shoppers.

So, there you have it – four resources that offer the B2B buyer varying degrees of insight into the products and services available to them (in addition to Gartner Peer Insights). Clearly, the market understands that B2B technology buyers do indeed benefit from crowdsourced reviews and research, and in the final blog post in this series, we’ll examine some of the lesser-known sites that might be diamonds in the rough. Stay tuned!

By Drew Smith 

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Where is the Yelp for B2B Tech? Gartner Chimes In…

We now live in a world where four billion people – more than half the global population – are connected to the internet, and one of the most intriguing outcomes of this widespread connectivity has been the advent of crowdsourcing. Since you’re one of those four billion people, you’re probably familiar with crowdsourcing, the practice of enlisting the services of a large number of people (typically via the internet) to achieve a common goal. In fact, if you’ve ever contributed to a Wikipedia article or published a Yelp review – or even just answered a question on Quora – you’ve participated in crowdsourcing. It’s a powerful form of collaboration that relies on the “wisdom of the crowd.”

As with most technology advancements, crowdsourcing made its most immediate impact with consumer-facing services (Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.), which helped everyday people decide where to spend their money on products and services they regularly use. And there is now an increasing appetite in the business sector to draw on the wisdom of the crowd for the same effect. Why? The foundational technologies that help a B2B company run – such as servers and storage appliances – can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars each, so making the wrong purchase can be costly. This is also true of services in which B2B companies make significant investments, including ongoing subscriptions with leading analyst firms (Gartner, IDC, Forrester, etc.) – which can cost upwards of $60,000 each.

If it’s clear that businesses seek a crowdsourced resource for the comparison of B2B products and services, even for complex, high-cost purchase decisions, what are their options? In parts two and three of this blog post series, we’ll examine the most popular options that are currently available, as well as the lesser-known sites that are emerging. In this post, we’ll take a look at the site that has generated the most amount of buzz in this relatively nascent space (and this buzz isn’t surprising, based on the site’s namesake): Gartner Peer Insights.

Launched in 2015, Gartner Peer Insights, whose tagline is “Choose IT Solutions with Confidence,” presents itself as a site featuring “reviews from your enterprise peers – verified by Gartner.” Its goal is to offer detailed perspectives for every phase of the IT lifecycle, from evaluation and implementation to service and support. That’s ambitious, but one of the biggest advantages Gartner Peer Insights has is something that all crowdsourced projects aim to leverage: tons of contributors. If the true value of crowdsourcing lies in the collective wisdom of the crowd, doesn’t it stand to reason that for accuracy’s sake, you want as large of a crowd as possible? If so, Gartner Peer Insights has that box checked, boasting more than 85,000 reviews of enterprise software across almost 300 product categories.

In addition to volume, the other main advantage Gartner Peer Insights has over competing sites is the trust and credibility associated with the Gartner brand. You’d be hard-pressed to find an IT professional who doesn’t pay attention to where their organization stacks up in its respective Gartner Magic Quadrant. In fact, Gartner is almost too influential: there’s a reason that, when a startup is looking to get its marketing strategy off the ground, one of the first questions it tends to ask is “does a Gartner subscription make sense for us?” Whether it does make sense is a question for another blog post – so watch this space for that…

While the cynic might claim that Gartner Peer Insights is simply a “feeder service” whose real aim is to turn its users into paying Gartner customers – and/or that the crowd are all carefully picked positive customers put forward by its client base – the site is without question one of the best options currently out there for crowdsourced evaluations of B2B tech products and services. In our next blog post in this series, we’ll examine some of the other most popular comparison sites currently available, so you can better understand what each has to offer to maximize your organization’s product and service investments. Until then, may the wisdom of the crowd be your guide!

By Drew Smith

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Three Ways to Get a Promotion: Elbow Grease with a Dash of Strategy & Creativity

There are few things more rewarding than getting a promotion. It’s an accomplishment that validates the hard work you’ve put in at your job, underscores your value to your organization and colleagues, and – as importantly – presents an opportunity for your friends, family and coworkers to heap some well-deserved praise on you. And no matter how humble you might be, that feels good! Oh, and a promotion usually means a bit more cash in the bank…

But promotions can be tricky things – not only in the sense that it usually takes a lot of hard work to get one, but also in the more nuanced sense that there is strategy involved in when to go for it. We’ve already covered that second point in a recent blog post on deciding when the time is right for a promotion, so in this post, we’ll offer three tips to help you reach the next rung on your career ladder.

Plan, Plan, Plan
We realize this isn’t the sexiest tip – and if you’re a slightly disorganized person, this will sound especially painful – but the quickest path to attaining that promotion is devising a plan for how you’ll get there. This is one of the reasons you (hopefully) have a manager or supervisor, as they can help you develop that plan.

One of the first items in your plan should be fully understanding the roles and responsibilities of your desired position. Well-run organizations expect you to be executing the responsibilities of the position above you before they move you into it, so you should know exactly what those responsibilities are. Hopefully your organization has an official job description for each role within the company – if so, get your hands on it, and if not, request that one be created.

Now that you know exactly what your new position entails, another critical step is to document everything. No, we’re not advocating that you become the “hall monitor” of your organization tracking every move your colleagues make – after all, that’s what HR’s for, right? Instead, we’re advising that you create a repository for all feedback you receive on your performance and anything related to your path to the next level. You can use almost any tool for this; a simple folder in your email will do the trick. The point here is you want to be able to demonstrate to your organization’s decision-makers that you’ve done what’s expected (and ideally, more) to warrant moving you to the next level.

You want a promotion, but maybe not to the position on the next rung on your organizational ladder. Rather than feeling trapped, get creative! Click To Tweet

Observe & Adapt
If there’s one skill the human species has mastered over the course of our existence, it’s being adaptable. Just as we learned to evolve so we could thrive alongside other species in highly diverse environments, we have the ability to change our behaviors and mindsets in the workplace. And you might just find that this skill comes in quite handy in your campaign to get promoted.

Now that you know the specific responsibilities of your desired position, you can take it a step further and begin observing your colleagues in that position:

NO FOLD ICON 15x15  Watch how they approach the tasks you hope you’ll be doing sooner rather than later

NO FOLD ICON 15x15 Listen to how they communicate with their/your colleagues and customers, what questions do they tend to ask

NO FOLD ICON 15x15 Talk to them about the techniques they use to perform well at their job

From those crucial observations, you can adapt your approach and mindset accordingly. Don’t become a copycat, but there are tremendous benefits to be gained from emulating the behaviors of successful people around you.

Get Creative!
You want a promotion, but maybe not to the position on the next rung on your organizational ladder. Rather than feeling trapped, get creative! Perhaps your organization has specialist roles outside of the “common track” you could explore. After all, skills are like muscles, and you’re bound to have some skills that you’ve worked extra hard at honing, meaning you’re especially strong in that area. If your organization has a certain specialist role that places an emphasis on that skill, it stands to reason you’d perform well in that role.

But what if your organization doesn’t offer any specialist roles? Consider creating a brand new position! Yes, this could seem daunting and unrealistic, but you might be surprised to find out how open your organization is to this idea, provided you can make a case for the value it will bring your company. After all, if you’ve developed a skill – especially to the point that you’re the only one who has it, making you almost indispensable – your organization would be foolish to dismiss the idea of turning that into a full-time role for you.

So, there you have it: three techniques to help you get that promotion. As your parents would say, there’s no substitute for good old-fashioned hard work – and that’s true – but by putting a little bit of strategy behind that elbow grease, you’ll be climbing the ladder faster than you ever thought was possible.

By Drew Smith
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