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Product Management in B2B SAAS Vs B2C SAAS

I am a Product Manager of B2B SAAS (Enterprise/ SMB) Product since last few years and have fair enough idea on the same. I talked to numerous Product Managers in B2C SAAS space. Here is the list of differences/ similarities in roles and challenges which PMs face on the 2 sides. Lets assume, Flight Booking Website or App as B2C SAAS Product and Cloud CRM as B2B SAAS Product.


Product Manager’s job in context of User Growth

Product Management for Flight Booking App involves marketing aspect as well. However, this is not directly applicable in case of CRM. The Product Management team needs to run marketing campaigns over app/ website for attracting new or existing users such that they download and activate the app. The Product Planning and Development for Flight Booking App would include aspects related to marketing features and functionalities. Hence, B2C PM would work to identify app/ website marketing problems and work with development team with solutioning and feature development. He would regularly review and analyse marketing related responses of users which would include understanding and running product marketing analytics and taking next steps based on the analysis.

In case of SAAS CRM, the Product website is essentially handled by Product Marketing team and App is handled by Product Manager. SAAS CRM’s Product Manager may collaborate with Product Marketing team for the same or if he is assigned KRAs on marketing side as well, he would run marketing campaigns as well. B2B PM would work in making activation a self service or if its not, Account Executive works with Customer Success/ Support Team for activation.

Another aspect is User Retention

As a User visits the website/ downloads the Flight App, he activates the App (make login credentials), searches for flights and books the flight ticket. Then, he keeps on using the app for flight booking in future. He feels so good in using the app that he refers it his family, friends and public.

PM for SAAS CRM has to essentially work on User Retention aspects. User conversion is when an account executive (AE) gets a prospective customer who requests for the product trial within certain time frame, the customer uses the product and finally makes payment to buy subscription, then it means Trial User is converted to a paying Customer. PM’s job is to make sure that customers stick to the App after on-boarding and keep paying for the licenses. Here, the Product Manager collaborates with Customer Success Team for User Retention. On retention side, both would look at would be Product Usage Experience. Both will be interested in finding reasons for Engagement and Churn.

Retention KPIs will be set up for fixed time period. The retention cycle can be lower in case of B2C as compared to B2B. Say, Weekly/ Monthly retention metrics to target would be numbers of orders, bookings, App opens, Flight shop, Hotel shop, Holidays, %of users who use app for single time in lifetime, Installs, Uninstalls. Other KPIs to look at would be Churn KPIs, Active base KPIs.

Both would work to find reasons to abandoning the app/ product. Possible reasons can be Bad UX, Poor interface, Not offering as stated, Casual trial, Technical bug, Unexplained. Also, they would be interested to find reasons for Stickiness of the customer.

Market Research, User Personas and Problems Differ

B2C Product Manager studies end consumers while B2B Product Manager studies Business Users. The market research methodology, approaches, scope are quite different. Sample size is quite high in case of B2C as compared to B2B as audience is typically bigger. In case of Flight Booking App, the research would be around end consumers and their problems faced by them in flight booking. However, in case of CRM, the user personas would be say Account Manager, Sales Manager and research would be around the problems being faced by them in their role as a individual, as a team, Organisation, Industry and Market. As a PM if you are inclined to solve end user problems then choose for B2C and in case Business problems attract you more, then go for B2B. You also go niche into the kind of space you want to target in any of business or end consumer segment based on experience, knowledge, interest and opportunity.

Release Cycles are shorter in B2C as compared to B2B

The Release Management is more frequent in case of B2C. However, in case of B2B the release management is less frequent as release cycle is bit longer. Though it all depends on the product and roadmap itself. The opportunities to experiment are higher in case of B2C product manager with quicker results and realisations as compared to B2B PM. As B2B environment involves people, process and technology, the PM need to go very carefully in bringing the changes and rapid changes are big No No from the users.

I am myself working in B2B Sales software space and practice all of above from B2B Product Management perspective. Here is my reasoning why I chose this space. I would say when it comes to business, sales drive is my core capability. I am a professional who has evolved as a Software Product Manager by practicing and learning sales. Well, there are 2 aspects to this. Firstly, product manager needs to be a sales guy first so that he could go in market, talk to people, learn about their problems and see how he can solve their problems. Secondly, product manager needs to be a sales guy in marketing and selling the product he builds.

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