How to Pivot Your B2B Company the Right Way

Adam Smartschan

Partner & Chief Strategy Officer

Did you build something by using marketplace acceptance testing, talking to people, or by solving a problem? If so, that’s awesome. But is that necessarily the thing that’ll make you a million dollars?


You might have created the equivalent of the next iPhone. If so, congratulations. 

But maybe you have the wrong thing. Maybe it’s in the wrong market. Maybe the features you think are your killer features … aren’t. 

And that’s okay. What matters is knowing you need to make a change.

Knowing you need to pivot your B2B company.

Pivoting is not something to be taken lightly. It’s easy to say “fail fast” or “move fast, break stuff.” But the fact of the matter is pivoting costs a lot of time and a lot of dough

And we know you probably won’t be able to pencil in a major business change in your calendar between lunch and your fifth client call of the day.

Another huge factor to consider is that pivoting your B2B company can be emotional. The founder, the CEO, the employees – everyone has invested a lot into building and marketing your company. And now it’s time to change it! 

And look, we know it’s hard to do this. You’re taking something you poured your heart and soul into and going and doing something else. You can say you don’t care all you want, but we know it can take a toll at some level. 

So it’s not something to be taken lightly.

How to Pivot Your B2B Company

How Do I Know It’s Time to Pivot a B2B Company?

There’s no magic bullet for knowing when it’s time to pivot your B2B company. Ultimately, it comes down to both qualitative and quantitive information.

How do your sales calls go? Do folks understand what you’re selling? Do they value it? Or is it a slog every time?

Are your competitors racking up users and dollars while you founder?

Even if you’re looking for investors who are okay with you being revenue-negative, they’re going to look for those users. For that potential. But if it’s clear that you can’t get those users, you need to do something else. Reinvent. Re-strategize. 

Now on the qualitative side of things, it’s hard to say you’ll know, but honestly – you’ll know when it’s time to pivot your B2B company. 

Conversations will tell you. They can be negative conversations of people saying “I’m just not interested” or they could be positive conversations with someone from another walk of life or another industry who looks at what you have and says “there’s something cool there for me.”

That’s how you know when.

But the key to all of this is the how. And the how comes down to these types of conversations. 

When you create something for the industry or try to solve a specific problem, you tend to put yourself in a bubble. You try to talk to the industry about what they like and what they want.

Get Out of the Founder Bubble

Whether it’s through surveys (formal or informal), focus groups (again, formal or informal), or by just having good ol’ conversations, get out of the bubble. Go and have that conversation with that person you weren’t expecting to cross paths with. 

You don’t have to go into the details, but be sure to ask them at a base level: What do you think about this idea? 

Some of the best B2B pivots come from the oddest places. Other people with other life experiences will look at your product differently than you do.

There’s truly no better lesson in pivoting a business than going and acquiring these varying perspectives. Having someone look at your offerings with a fresh pair of eyes.

Because hey, you might have built something accidentally that’s really cool and specifically targets someone else’s problems or addresses their challenges.

So get out of that bubble.

What Does It Take to Pivot Successfully?

It honestly comes down to hard work. This is part of why it’s incredibly important to keep track of what you have and what you’ve done

Here’s what we mean: if you don’t have a single source of truth for marketing or product materials, it’s going to be incredibly hard for you to tell a new story about your company. 

Keeping a source of truth from the get-go is so, so important. Because when you have to go and change everything, you’ll know how to get started.

To pivot your product successfully is no easy feat. It’s probably as hard as climbing the warped wall in American Ninja Warrior

Maybe you need to make some new hires because you’re re-messaging and re-positioning. It really comes down to your commitment to the pivot. If you make this frightening (and sometimes very pricey) decision, you gotta go all in. 

If you dip a toe, it’s just not going to be there. You have to cannonball right in. We have so many options for every possible need as business people and as consumers, which is why specificity is differentiation. Commitment is differentiation. 

And these are both absolutely essential.

Imagine you’re selling to us, at a B2B marketing agency.

If you show us a product for every agency in the world, it’s probably not going to tickle our fancy. But if you show us something for a mid-size agency with a strategic integrated focus that matches our business needs and fits with our systems, we’re more apt to nod our heads in approval and interest. 

Moral of the story is, specificity and commitment to the lane that you’re in are so, so key.

tl;dr: Pivot Your B2B Company

Pivoting your B2B company is not something to be taken lightly. You don’t want to be the company that flies off in a new direction every three weeks.

You’ll never gain traction that way because you’re always changing course and are unable to commit. That specificity will never be there, ergo that differentiation will never be there. 

And that’s not good.

Don’t depend on luck to get there. It’s all about using that qualitative and quantitative data to pivot your product. By escaping that giant bubble, getting your hands a little dirty and staying committed to the pivot, you’ll be well on your way to making a successful change for your company …

… and possibly a million dollars. 

Adam Smartschan

Adam Smartschan heads Altitude's strategic marketing and branding efforts. An award-winning writer and editor by trade in a former life, he now specializes in data analytics, search engine optimization, digital advertising strategy, conversion rate optimization and technical integrations. He holds numerous industry certifications and is a frequent speaker on topics around B2B marketing strategy and SEO.
Adam graduated from Northeastern University in Boston in 2007. He grew up in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, just miles down the road from Altitude's headquarters in Emmaus, Pennsylvania.