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Jan 13, 2019

The rise of tools and services for the "SaaS marketplaces era"

The trend

I recently wrote an article covering the rise of SaaS app stores similar to Salesforce's Appexchange. When you look at the current B2B software landscape, you’ll notice that SaaS marketplaces are emerging in every category: from marketing (Hubspot, Marketo), to sales (Appexchange), and more recently design (Invision in 2018) or customer communication (Intercom in 2018).

This “app store dominated” era creates new opportunities after which startups are going:

  • Infrastructure: products that help SaaS companies build and maintain connectors/integrations to the increasing number of marketplaces.

  • Sales & Marketing: products that help SaaS companies generate leads and close sales through marketplaces directories which are becoming important distribution / acquisition channels.

  • Analytics: tools that extract data and offer insightsto optimize marketplace presence.

To illustrate this trend, the memo of the week covers Crossbeam, a cross-sharing lead qualification SaaS.


If theoretically bringing new leads seems like a killer value proposition (which company wouldn't be ready to pay for more leads?), practically I find it very hard to execute and scale B2B lead generation businesses because your success depends too much on the capacity of your users to close a deal. You can provide the best lead to a company, if its sales process or its product are not good, they won’t convert the lead and will blame you for that (“your lead was crap”).

I believe this is why in the sales or marketing category, the biggest winners are tool providers and not leads providers. Like Salesforce which provides a tool to manage your leads/sales processes. if you are a Salesforce user and dont manage to close a deal, you probably won't blame Salesforce, but your salespeople. If you are a lead provider, you’ll take the blame.

This is my personal take, but I would be happy to be proven wrong and to hear your opinion.


Crossbeam is a kind of “peer-to-peer” lead sharing network: when you are part of it, everytime you and another SaaS company have a new prospect/customer in common, Crossbeam will notify you and give you the possibility to each share the unique data you possess about this prospect to the other. The aim is to get unique data in order to help you close deals and to create partnerships between SaaS companies.

The “platform play” comes from the fact that Crossbeam pulls its data from the platforms you are integrated with (Salesforce, Hubspot…).