• The Internet of Things is revolutionizing how we understand our buyers and how we create demand
  • Companies that provide software-as- a-service offerings, apps or appliances can now generate leads without human intervention
  • Bidirectional communication capabilities built directly into products provide a new channel for insight and demand

In 1996, famed computer Deep Blue beat the world’s greatest chess player. Now we hear about IBM’s Watson helping researchers find a cure for cancer. It makes you wonder: What’s coming next? Well, there’s no need to wait. All of this new computing power – combined with massive amounts of data stored in data lakes – has led to a shift in the way B2B sellers understand and communicate with buyers. Today, thanks in part to the Internet of Things (IoT), the very products we use can now interact directly with us. From mobile apps and software-as-a-service solutions that provide in-app messaging to Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky smart bottles that sense being opened, triggering suggestions on the consumer’s smartphone for how best to enjoy the drink, buyer interaction has reached a new level.

Internet of ThingsProduct heartbeats, also known as “call home” capability, also allow a product to send information back to the seller. Even though this one-way communication (end-user product to seller) has existed for years, few sellers have taken full advantage of it to drive demand or leverage buyer insights to inform marketing and sales strategies. Now, with the advent of more sophisticated bidirectional communications capabilities built into the actual applications (e.g. software, app, hardware), marketers can communicate with buyers directly through an additional channel – the product.

Enter the product generated lead. Now the creation of leads directly from products is possible – and it can be fully automated so that the software or hardware user and the seller can receive a message from the product itself. By tracking users’ interactions with the product, be it through software or an appliance, sellers are discovering new opportunities to build customer loyalty to improve retention and facilitate upsell (premium versions) and cross-sell (related products or services) opportunities. The process begins when a user interacts with the product, triggering communications to the seller (e.g. utilization, location, product type, model, release) and, in turn, targeted communications to the user (e.g. tips, access to additional resources, promotions, offers). For example, if the user of a freemium offering attempts to access premium functionality, the product can directly offer the ability to upgrade from a free version to a paid version using in-app messages with links to a purchase or upgrade site, removing the need for human interaction.

Thanks to the IoT, an offering’s ability to communicate with the buyer and back to the seller has been extended from software and apps to hardware, devices and even common appliances such as dishwashers. This new method of communication provides companies with an additional source of buyer insight, demand creation opportunities and a means of monetizing data (e.g. the sale of usage data to improve targeting and capacity planning and to identify ideal segments).

For low-cost offerings, the product lead generation process can be transacted without human interaction, while for higher-cost or more complex offerings, product generated leads should be treated like other automation qualified leads according to the company’s service-level agreement.

To learn more about how software providers can leverage product generated leads, SiriusDecisions clients can access the briefs “Enterprise Software Trials: Optimizing the Initial Experience” and “Freemium to Premium: Engaging and Converting Users.”