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Ep16: Godard Abel, Co-Founder & CEO at G2

Episode Summary

"It was way too hard for software buyers to discover amazing apps," - this was the main challenge Godard and his team had to overcome when building G2. In episode #16 of our Datavana Podcast, Godard Abel, Co-founder and CEO at G2, shares the inspiration for G2, a Yelp for the B2B software market, and explains why G2 surged during COVID.

G2 creates impact and improves product distinguishability by encouraging users, vendors and marketers to provide authentic customer reviews to boost brand awareness. “It's much easier for software buyers to find the right apps, but then also to be able to trust them based on real user reviews.” Godard talks about the journey of G2, and how they never anticipated the exciting opportunities that data provides in helping customers focus on their ICP and target accounts.

"I do think the business model has really evolved. And so data has really become a really big part of the G2 business"

Ep16: Godard Abel, Co-Founder & CEO at G2
Name: Godard Abel
What he does: CEO & Co-Founder of G2
Company: G2
Noteworthy: SaaS entrepreneur for over 20 years and co-founder of 3 Companies.
Where to find Godard: LinkedIn

Episode Highlights

Account Based Marketing

"I think what's been new in our industry the last couple of years, this whole idea of account based marketing, I think more and more software vendors go and market that way, where you figure out what's your ideal customer profile. And rather than trying to just market to everyone, you really laser focus on accounts that, you know, would have a great need for your product."

Accelerated Trends

"VCs, companies like Facebook and a lot of B2B leaders have said that a lot of five, 10 year trends have now been accelerated. These trends were all happening, anyway. Businesses were adopting more software. All of that's been accelerated. And we have also, as a result seen more people now shopping for software for their business on G2 every month."

Buyer Intent Data

"We do also use the buyer intent data because we can also see if all of a sudden you light up, or the people at RingLead all of a sudden are lighting up on G2 and really spending more time on our marketplace. Then that can also trigger outreach, via our Salesforce app, where we create the data, to say, ‘Hey, maybe we should call Jaime because it seems like they're spending a lot of time on G2.com -right now might be a great time to educate them on our marketing solutions.'"

Buyer Beware

"Some of our team can be too aggressive (with intent data). You have to be careful of buyer intent data -maybe they're too presumptive. They say, ‘Oh, I saw you, I know you must be in the market!’. I do a lot of outreach myself, you know, I like to consider myself the best BDR at G2. But, and I think the key, and what we try to teach our teams is to make it very personalized. You just make it very personalized. So don't make it so obvious that it's tied to the data."

G2 Track

"One of the data sets we're also working on capturing now at G2 is with a new product we have called G2 Track - we already have about a thousand companies using it to track all their SaaS, spend all their cloud spend, but we know how many users they have. We know how they're utilizing it. And in an aggregated anonymous way, we can also start to provide benchmarks to say, ‘Hey, for a Salesforce Sales Cloud license, based on what hundreds of companies are paying, here's the fair market price.’ Ultimately we see it saving the buyer a lot of time because they can buy with confidence and frankly, the seller, because they can save all that end of quarter negotiation and special deals."

The Big Opportunity

"Ultimately, I think in 10 years companies like Salesforce, they're only spending 10 to 20% on sales and marketing and put the rest of that in additional RandD and additional customer support and just making their product better. And so that's how the software buyer, rather than having to spend months on evaluation and RFPs and all these boring demo meetings, they can just go to a site like g2.com, have all the data and make a buying decision with confidence and maybe in a week instead of in a year. And so really that's the big opportunity we see for our industry. And I do believe over the next decade, we're going to end up there where we're gonna be much more efficient, much more consumer-like, and software buyers and sellers will both be better off."

Key Insights

  • Authentic Reviews. According to Godard, the idea for G2 came from other businesses he founded, like BigMachines. The discoverability troubles they had gave the inspiration for G2, a marketplace that helps make it easier for software buyers to discover apps beneficial to their business. To build recognition they allowed users to discover and shop for apps based on peer customer reviews, similarly to Yelp or Amazon. Godard says they encouraged customer and software marketers and vendors to write authentic reviews to enhance discoverability and embrace the customer voice. "That was really the starting vision and made it much easier for software buyers, both to find the right apps, but then also to be able to trust them based on real user reviews."
  • G2, the Yelp of the B2B marketplace. The business model of G2 evolved overtime since its inception, however, nobody anticipated how big of a role data was to play. Godard says G2 was initially designed to be the Yelp of B2B software, but side features allowing vendors to sign up, upgrade their profile, embed content; and CTS setup to directly capture leads, lead to an influx of unexpected data. "I think what we didn't foresee was for this to become really exciting as a data opportunity. And then the other big part of that has become what people call intent data...and the biggest thing companies are trying to ride around in account based marketing works a lot better if you know which of your target accounts are right now in the market shopping for your type of solution... So data has really become a really big part of the G2 business. And that's kind of an exciting new opportunity that we didn't foresee when we started the company."
  • A Tremendous Surge. During the pandemic, G2 saw a surge in customers at a time most businesses saw fewer, explains Godard. G2 was in a unique position where it could help companies quickly discover new 3rd party apps that were integral to keep their businesses afloat during the crisis. Companies looking to get ahead visit G2 to see how technology services can improve their customer outreach. "Last March and April, we just saw a tremendous surge where categories like video conferencing were up 400%. Also it was interesting, some verticals, for example, HIPAA Compliant messaging and HIPAA is a healthcare privacy standard. But also all of a sudden, there's also all these interesting telemedicine apps and, you know, so it was really cool to see how G2 could help companies when the pandemic hit."
  • Make it personalized. Godard says if you want to draw in new lurking customers, take care to not scare the masses off. Personalize content using buyer intent data to make your customer feel the message is relevant and tailored for them. Customers are more likely to be engaged by carefully structured advertising. "I think the other big opportunity that I see for all of us, is to really get as good as the consumer marketing on Instagram or Facebook. I think one example is; my family and I have three kids and we all love to go skiing. And so right now I'm getting a lot of, you know, very targeted, like end of year clearance, ‘Hey, here's an amazing cheap ski jacket that would fit your daughter beautifully.’ It's so personalized."

Top Quotes

[07:26] "When we started, the idea was a Yelp for B2B software but I do think the business model has really evolved."

[11:31] "Software eating the world"

[12:45] "We'd like authentic reviews. So they're not all five stars, but we get good feedback. And so we get a lot of customer voice, a lot of customer feedback, and that's also what we encourage, you know, all vendors on G2 to embrace the feedback"

[17:09] "Just make it very personalized. Don't make it so obvious that it's tied to the data. In some ways I think some people view it as creepy, but it's so personalized. We could target you, 'here's a peer sales leader talking about the amazing success having those account based marketing powered by higher intent.’ And it just happens to magically pop up when we know you're shopping. And then all of a sudden you're like, ‘wow, this is really relevant.'"

[18:04] "One interesting partnership we also have is with LinkedIn. You can couple the buyer intent data with what LinkedIn calls matched audiences. And then you can do very personalized advertising."

[21:36] "Salesforce, obviously an amazing company, Marc Benioff is my entrepreneurial idol. But if you look at Salesforce, they still spend about 50% of revenue on sales and marketing. I think one of the expressions they also have internally is enterprise software is sold, not bought. And really where I hope we can take this industry is that software is more bought because it gets so easy to buy."