Rob Rosenblatt was recently appointed CEO at Behalf, Inc. after having led the company’s US business as President since early 2020. In this recent chat with GlobalFinTechSeries, Rob discusses his thoughts on the how the payments ecosystem has evolved more rapidly in B2C than B2B while sharing a few quick thoughts about the future of this market.
Welcome to GlobalFintechSeries, Rob! Can you tell us a little about yourself? Over the recent years, given the number of fintech innovations in the marketplace, we’d love your thoughts on a few global providers that you think are creating game-changing technologies/products!
Good to be here! Prior to Behalf, I served as the General Manager for Kabbage’s Lending Business, and am currently a member of the Board of Directors of PEX Card. I joined Behalf right before the pandemic hit — so it was an incredibly unique orientation for me. My first week, I made it to Israel, the home of Behalf’s Engineering, Risk, Analytics and Internal Product areas and the guts of the company. Staying alive, and coping with the pandemic quickly became the focus for the entire company. I am really proud of the fact that we were able to continue to support our merchant clients and their business customers with flexible terms and affordable financing over the past eight months. Cash flow was and remains a priority for all small businesses and we were able to continue serving our customers at a critical time.
I’m also proud of the fact that we’ve continued to build our partnerships with merchants and what I call ‘merchant hubs’ — companies that serve merchants in a big way and have trusted relationships with these merchants. A few weeks ago, we announced our partnership with Priority Payment Systems, a fast-growing merchant processor who provides great service to their merchants. We’re now one of their core financing options for those merchants. We’ll be announcing some exciting partnerships with new enterprise merchants in the coming months.
Fintech has evolved at a rapid pace over the last decade, there has also been significant evolution and growth in the payments ecosystem. What are some of your predictions for the future of digital payments in the B2B space?
B2C payments have evolved much more rapidly than B2B payments but now we are seeing the B2B space catch up. Over the last several years we have seen an explosion of fintechs entering the AP/AR space. Coupa, c2fo, and Taulia are just a few examples. I think we’ll see more as fintechs look to help streamline and accelerate payments, reconciliation and cash flow processes for B2B buyers and sellers. There is a lot of demand and the market potential is tremendous. Needless to say, providing affordable terms and financing can play a key role in helping both merchants and their buyers manage their cash flow.
With the onset of the pandemic, we saw tremendous growth in purchasing made online by buyers big and small. At the same time, merchants quickly moved to work-at-home arrangements for their national account salespeople. This enabled merchants to continue to provide a high level of service to medium and large-sized accounts with the need for consultative assistance. I read an article that said that the pandemic has advanced the cause for e-commerce by 10 years; for the business side of commerce, I think the number is closer to 20! Another trend: the expansive growth in purchasing by SMEs in online marketplaces.
Can you share your thoughts on the impact of Covid-19 on businesses in the US B2B marketplace?
As we know, the rate of online purchasing in the B2C space has skyrocketed since the onset of COVID-19. What’s not surprising is that online business purchases have also increased. It’s time for B2B companies to strengthen their eCommerce presence since 43% of businesses find making online purchases more complicated than making a transaction offline. It’s a great opportunity for merchants to offer a seamless checkout that improves the customer experience, increases AOV, and allows for more money-saving automation for the merchant.
How do you think emerging tech like AI and access to real-time data create an impact in fintech and more specifically the financing space?
Businesses have a unique set of needs that go far beyond those of consumers. The scarcest asset for businesses is time. There are simply not enough hours in the day for most businesses, particularly those that are in high-growth mode. AI and real-time data can power real-time approval of online financing. This is essential to helping businesses make their purchases “in the moment,” saving them time and allowing them to spend more (virtual) time with family and friends.
Before we wrap up, would you like to share specific finance management or business tips for Marketing and Sales or Finance teams struggling through this uncertain time due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
I think we’ve all learned a tremendous amount about how to manage a business in times of great stress, illness and financial hardship. My advice is provided with the caveat that you need to adapt to your specific situation. In my experience, good sales, marketing and finance people do that instinctively. (Ok, finance people don’t want to admit this!!)
Marketing -> Step up organic content creation and optimize your current website content. If your paid marketing budget has decreased or is non-existent, improving your SEO can help you get higher placements in search results without spending ad money. Free tools like Yoast SEO can easily plug in to your website, analyze your content, and provide simple suggestions on how to improve your content performance. Make sure your content provides plenty of educational value so your audience remembers you when they’re ready to sign up for a product or service in your space. The other advice is to focus your resources on fewer programs/vehicles and do them really well vs. doing a lot of things average.
Sales -> Now more than ever, Sales teams need to stay on top of changes in their industry. Ensure your team has an updated outreach strategy so your current customer base is taken care of — there are still plenty of companies running at full capacity, or even beyond, who will need quick access to your sales team. Using automation tools like Outreach can help lean sales teams check in with a large customer base focusing manual responses on the customers who reach out for sales support.
Finance -> It’s a great time to re-evaluate where your company’s money and energy are going. Are there subscriptions you can modify or cancel? Are there new alternatives to some of the more expensive tools you’ve been using for a while? A quick search for more affordable options can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars you can put to good use in another part of your business. And if your finance team is getting bogged down running your company’s B2B financing program, consider outsourcing it to Behalf! We offer affordable “terms-as-a-service” with 100% US-based customer support. Behalf can help your company get paid right away while giving your B2B customers the flexibility to pay for purchases over time.
Behalf is a fintech company that offers affordable “terms-as-a-service” and financing for businesses that enables them to take control of their cash flow. With Behalf, B2B sellers outsource their net terms & extended financing programs and receive payment upfront, without the need to assume credit risk. Buyers benefit from access to net terms (with no financing fee if paid within the grace period) and financing, providing them with added purchasing power.
Rob Rosenblatt is the CEO at Behalf, Inc.