When you’re a startup, it may seem impossible to bag an enterprise client. It’s not surprising why. Selling to big companies involves working through long sales cycles which can cost a lot of time and resources, something startups are short on.
On the other hand, a big company can help open many doors for your startup. It’s a great opportunity to validate your product or service in a large scale environment. They’re also a great place to get repeat business. Even one enterprise client can ensure steady revenue for month, good enough to keep your startup afloat and hire the first few employees. They can also provide testimonials, which carry a lot of weight, and can help build trust & credibility for your fledgling business. They can even refer you to other prospective clients in the industry, and your business will take off!
Here are 7 ways startups can sell to big companies.
1. Identify their pain points
Find out the pain points of your target customer so you can pitch your product or service as the solution. For example, if you’re selling an accounting software then find out their accounting-related problems. You can do this by reading their company blog articles about accounting topics, connecting with their accounting employees on LinkedIn and following them on Twitter to see what they post about.
Remember, big companies receive many business proposals every day. So you need to quickly prove that you can add value to their business. You need to have an in-depth knowledge of the industry and a good understanding of their pain points. Position yourself as an expert, instead of yet another vendor.
2. Understand their buying process
Every big organization has a set buying process that you must follow in order to get their business. For example, you may have to give a live demo to their senior executives, followed by 2-3 rounds of meetings before they request a quote. It doesn’t matter how you sell your product (via online marketing, social media, content marketing). You need to play by their rules.
Find out who all are involved in the buying process, identify the key decision makers and the main person of contact. Typically, Enterprise purchases are made by IT & Finance Departments although the users may be from other teams like HR, Marketing.
Also, understand their buying timeline. How long does it take to close a deal? Are they more likely to buy in summer, or in winter? This will help you approach them at the right time.
3. Ask for face-to-face meetings
Enterprise sales are built up on long-term professional relationships and trust. Always seek face-to-face meetings instead of relying on cold calls, emails and social media. This is true not only till you close the deal, but even after. If you want their business, they need to know that they can trust you, and that you will be available whenever they need you.
4. Have a few customer testimonials ready
Big companies are skeptical to do business with small companies they haven’t heard of. An effective way to overcome this is to provide social proof of your credibility. For example, you can display customer testimonials from reputed brands on your website, as well as offline materials like brochures, pamphlets. While meetings prospects, you can also present a case study of how your business helped another brand in their industry. Leverage the brand power of your customers to build your own credibility.
5. Pitch to multiple stakeholders
As mentioned earlier, B2B sales involves multiple decision makers. For example, if you’re selling an accounting software, you may need to pitch to the accountants and analysts who’ll use it daily, their project managers, as well as the IT department to assure them about data security and technology. The more people you pitch your business to, the easier it is to build consensus and close the deal.
6. Go for a pilot project
One of the easiest ways to get a foot in the door is to start with a pilot project. It allows you to test your product or service on a much smaller scale and iron out any kinks before deploying it to a much larger audience. It also gives an opportunity to build favorable relationships with decision makers.
Once they use your solution for 3-4 months, they’ll become familiar with it, and buy from you instead of your competitors. Even if your product falls short in some areas, you can always extend the pilot project by 1-2 months, while you build those features and get back to them.
7. Don’t underprice your product
Many startups offer their products & services at a low price hoping to win more customers. It can seriously reduce the perceived value of your product and hurt your brand. Big companies may not buy your product or service, assuming that it’s only meant for startups, or that it’s not advanced enough to meet their requirements. Find out what your competitors are quoting, and offer a slightly lower price.
Wrapping it up
If you want to sell to big companies, start by identifying all their key decision makers and understanding their buying process. Showcase your expertise by providing valuable information that helps solve their problems. This will help you add value to their business and build a long-term relationship, opening the doors to sell your products & services.
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