G2 is a unicorn startup that’s stayed in the game for over a decade. G2 CEO Godard Abel deep dives into his original vision for G2, going multi-product, selling with multiple sales teams, demand gen spend, and why AI is the most important thing right now.
Keep reading to learn how this $1B+ valuation SaaS company stuck it out through a long, slow slog in the beginning and has become the largest software marketplace today.
G2’s Original Vision
G2 started in 2012, so over a decade. It was a long, slow slog in the beginning, so much so that Abel built and sold SteelBrick to Salesforce during that time.
When he came back to G2, his co-founder, Tim Handorf, had scaled the platform and got it to critical mass.
The original vision for G2 was to be the Yelp of software.
Gartner was the status quo, and G2 wanted to handle things differently.
“The world needed a buffet of software, and G2 was that buffet,” Abel shares. User reviews were missing at the time, and just like restaurants, G2 intended to provide a space for them.
Now, there are at least 100k verified SaaS apps on G2, which is huge. And G2 continues to solve for the questions software buyers are asking.
- How do I discover the SaaS products I need?
- How do I trust them?
On sites like G2, it makes sense that the number one slot is a safe bet. They’ve been in the game for a while, so the product works. They have privacy, security, vendor transitions, and acquisition support.
So how does that second tier of SaaS apps, numbers 8-20, take advantage of a platform where they aren’t number one?
Many investment banker pitches say that everyone is number one at something.
They could be number one in Bay Area IPOs in SaaS in the spring.
You might not be DocuSign, but for SMBs in France in retail, you are number one.
If that matches who you are as a customer and you fit that slice or segment of the market, that’s very valuable.
Let’s look at an example.
There are 332 e-signature listing software on G2.
You can filter your search by industry, whether you’re SMB, mid-market, or Enterprise, etc.
Number 1 on the list may not be the best at hospital signatures, but number 10 or 15 might be.
This is where G2 differentiates itself from Gartner — with a data-driven platform vs. an analyst.
G2 is taking these search capabilities a step further with generative AI.
G2’s OpenAI-Powered Monty Changes The Game
G2’s Monty, powered by ChatGPT, will be the best way to discover longtail apps for software buyers.
Instead of trying to use a clunky, forms-based search box, you can now have a conversation with Monty to discover the best app, even if you don’t know the best category (there are over 2,000 on G2).
SaaS companies can close deals more efficiently with an agent like Monty, and it’s a promising and better way to guide software buyers.
Why ChatGPT and not some other language model?
For ten years, G2 tried to create guided buying experiences, but none of them worked great.
In G2 reviews, they ask structured and unstructured data questions, but AI is very good at unstructured data.
People can communicate as humans do, and AI uses those words and matches them to a business problem regardless of category.
AI is just a better interface than forms-based searching.
Monty’s advantage is that it can learn anything from G2’s big database plus all of the generalized knowledge of the internet.
Going Multi-Product and Selling With Multiple Teams
One of the biggest advantages of G2 is its database. All of their data is in Snowflake. This database has become its own product as a data solution for over 50 investors and customers.
Every top-tier VC has a data strategy, and for private software companies to get private data, G2 is probably the best.
Is that data a distraction from G2’s core product?
It’s synergistic now because they sell it as market intelligence to software vendors.
Those looking for data on how vendors are trending, how the market is trending, product experience, management success, how categories are trending, etc., can find it from G2.
It’s a more strategic product to sell than the core product, which is more demand gen driven.
Two years ago, that was amazing, but the last year has been challenging.
Because marketers are cutting back.
One CMO guesstimates the average peer is cutting back spend 50% — a tough environment if you’re selling marketing solutions.
But G2’s data solutions are a strategic buy, especially as Monty gets trained to navigate that data.
Investors and consultants can query the data directly to say:
- How does Echosign compare to Docusign?
- Are they winning or losing?
And Monty will give them the answers.
That’s a powerful product.
Do you need a second sales team to sell multiple products?
If you have multiple products with different languages and markets, you need another sales team.
Selling market intelligence to a software marketer is a lot different than selling to a demand-gen marketer.
But having multiple products definitely strengthens the sales pitch.
Reviews don’t influence just customers but also all of these investors and consultants. People check out GlassDoor before joining a company, and now they go look at G2 reviews.
Every product plays into the overall brand platform because the quality and satisfaction of your product are important to everyone — investors, partners, employees, customers, etc.
Ten years in, G2 is living its original vision, plus so much more.
Is There A Recovery In Marketing Spend Yet?
Two years ago, everything was booming. Now, we’re at the bottom of the parabola, where efficiency has been the top priority.
Is there a recovery happening in marketing spend yet?
There seems to be a fatigue of cuts, and companies aren’t seeing pipeline for Q1 of next year, which means there may be a hint of recovery on the horizon.
Startups have to have a plan. It’s not necessarily what it was before, but everyone still has to grow.
Abel shares that he’s cautiously optimistic because that’s what the data is saying. We need more time, and no one knows how long the bottom of the parabola will be, but at some point, you have to grow.
Efficiency is good, but you must spend and deploy it as a marketer to grow.
Oddly, this need to grow is still tied to showing a very short-term ROI.
Everyone wants something they can show the next day because sales cycles and conversions have lengthened, and there’s pressure for things to convert now.
The job of the CMO is harder than ever, with less budget and the push for higher quality pipeline that converts now.
The Future Of G2
Monty is the highest priority for G2 right now, as it is for many startups.
It’s exciting not only for software buyers but for sellers, too. To be able to convert a listing into a deal by training Monty to answer all of your FAQs is powerful.
If Monty can automatically handle software transactions, that’s a breakthrough. Monty becomes the SDR and the AE.
The best platforms are automating 40% of consumer interactions in eCommerce. So imagine a world where 40% of B2B sales don’t require a broken process, and the best AI can do it for you.
No churn. No burn. Zero cost of sale.
It’s no wonder generative AI is a breakout category right now.