How to sell to large companies: 16 tips. Part 1

Original author: Tim Nguyen
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When selling their services or software products to large enterprises and corporations need to develop a completely different approach than the one used with small and medium-sized businesses. We at Alconost translated the advice of Tim Nguyen, who built his career selling various products to companies in the medium, large and corporate sectors, including credit unions and banks across America. On average, the deal amounted to $ 500 thousand annually, with the worst result being 25 thousand, and the best - $ 7 million per year. We think that Nguyen’s advice applies not only to the US market - but especially to it.

Small, medium, large firms: what's the difference?

According to the US Bureau of Statistics, approximately 6.064 million enterprises with full-time employees are currently registered in the country, and only 0.32% of them relate to large business or corporations in size. Below are the detailed numbers:
Small companiesMedium-sized companiesLarge companiesCorporations
Total companies6,000,000 44,000 9,000 11,000
Total employees<250250 - 500500 - 1,000> 1000
Sales on average per year1.6 million dollars41 million dollars159 million dollars2.7 billion dollars

Communication is everything

Strive to acquire them at all costs.
Let's talk directly. You never sell anything to a firm . You sell to people who work for a company. It is your relationship with a potential buyer that ultimately produces a result, positive or negative.

Suppose you are selling a product with a certain value. People buy from those they like and whom they trust. There is no shortcut to success, it just takes some time. That is why the average sales cycle is from 6 to 24 months, and that is why there are deals that you will never close.

Selling various projects to companies provides a very rewarding experience. Over time, you will build wonderful personal relationships with your customers, and many of them can be called good friends.

Understand how decisions are made

To successfully complete the transaction, you need to have an idea of ​​how certain decisions are made. If you do not understand the essence of the process, successful sales will come late, and it may happen that they do not come at all.

Each company is unique, but remember that there are three types of decision makers you should be aware of:
  1. A person who independently makes the final decision. Usually it is the general director or president, it can also be the head of a certain unit or the person leading a special project - it all depends on the organizational management scheme in the company.
  2. An employee of the company who makes the decision himself, but his choice must be confirmed by the board of directors. In this case, even if the decision has already been made, you need to wait for the next meeting of shareholders or even a new business cycle (and there may be several, depending on the current priorities of the enterprise). This is especially noticeable in relatively complex business sectors, such as banking and insurance.
  3. A group of decision makers. Even if one person has the final word, he relies heavily on decisions made jointly by the team, and in some cases it all ends with a compromise that suits the whole group.

As you can see, often far from everything depends on the CEO or president. In a large company, several employees can work at once, which directly affect the final decision and the signing of the contract. You just need to identify the “key” person or group of people.

As a result, a logical question arises: “ How to immediately reach the very person who makes decisions?
And this, my friends, is precisely the“ one million dollar ”question, to which we will try to find the answer using the 16 tips below.

1. Start with people you know.

When selling something to companies, start with people you already know personally.

If you are new to corporate sales and have never sold anything before, your main goal is to provide yourself with good recommendations for the company with which you want to make a deal. A friend from the university who now works as a client manager and who works closely with the company we need can help you with this. Another option is another seller who does not directly compete with you.

Get the most out of your connections.

Your goal is to meet the right people, share your business ideas with them and get good recommendations that they can provide to other companies. In fact, you need to meet successful professionals in your industry - people who will believe in your product and help you penetrate the target companies.

Of course, if you already have any sales experience and established contacts with which you sold something or tried to sell, start with them. Use all your connections in the right industry - as many people as possible should know about your new project.

2. Get your first customer

Your first buyer will most likely be a small or medium-sized company, but it is this first deal that will help you “reach” representatives of the large and corporate sectors in the future. As soon as you get your first customer - we believe a satisfied customer - you will have a supporter of your business who will serve as a kind of “living recommendation” for the second, and maybe hundredth customer.

The first sale is especially important for startups. It will prove that you are developing a real business for real buyers, help reduce initial costs and attract investors.

The good news is: your first customer probably understands his “uniqueness”. Anyone who trusts a completely new company wants to help you grow.

3. Be the link

“You will have everything in life that you only want if you, as far as you can, help other people get what they want.” - Hilary "Zig" Ziglar (Hilary Hinton "Zig" Ziglar).

In the business world, people work with other people. Your goal is to help your friends build a serious, mutually beneficial relationship. Do not be lazy to acquaint people with each other, help them develop the connection just established.

Remember, when you recommend someone, you kind of fix your recommendation with a seal with your own name. Make sure that the new acquaintance will be interesting and useful to both participants, do not “build bridges” just for the sake of quantity. Acting as a mediator of a bad acquaintance is much worse than just being silent.

Do not stop helping customers alone. Look for the opportunity to introduce other sellers, partners, and even competitors among themselves.

4. Solve the problems of others

It is not necessary to act only in the role of a "selling" manager, help people understand the problem.

You will never sell a product by itself; you are selling the solution to a problem. This means that your product is not at all the main goal for the buyer. Its main goal is those qualities and tools that the application carries. Will it fix the actual problem of the client?

As an example, you are not selling a CRM system, you are selling a solution that provides new potential opportunities .

If you focus on the problems of your customers, you will help solve them. But for this you need to be an expert in your field. Your goal is to become a valuable specialist, complementing the company, and not just a sales manager. It is very important to be the very person whom customers call immediately as soon as they discover a problem in your profile - they know that you can solve it. If you really want to become a valuable specialist, help your customers identify and solve even those problems that they don’t even know exist.

You cannot just pretend to be a qualified specialist. You need to completely immerse yourself in the world of your customers. Understand industry cycles, current needs, existing opportunities, and ever-changing environments.

At the same time, proposing solutions involves more than just talking. Listen and try to understand the client in order to offer the best solution to the problem. Your questions should be more than answers.

5. Participate in events

If you conduct your business in a certain industry, participation in industry non-profit organizations (such as associations and trade unions) will give you an excellent opportunity to gain new knowledge and meet other people working in this field. The most important thing is consistency. Your goal is to become an active member of the organization, then regularly make a feasible contribution to its activities and, in the end, gain a foothold there as an “old-timer”, without which it is impossible to imagine an association.

There are many registered in the USAvarious organizations. Some of them operate within a certain region, while others are focused on issues of a national scale. You do not need to join all associations. To get started, select some of the most interesting for you and plan to visit them in the future.

The first meetings you will need to attend may seem a little boring to you, because many people will be strangers to you. One way or another, you can always find places that will help correct this unpleasant situation - a hall, separate booths for community members, as well as small parties and training seminars.

6. Join the association headquarters

Having mastered in any union and taking part in several activities conducted by the organization, take a step forward and try to get into the committee. Business associations always need help attracting new members and / or sponsors, organizing various events and other issues.

This will also serve as good evidence that you are not just chasing a long ruble, but, on the contrary, supporting the industry as a whole and interested in its development.

7. Collaborate with sellers who are not your direct competitors.

The best way to introduce yourself and your products to a company as a potential customer is to take the help of those who have already been able to make a deal with it! Find these contacts and share your product with them.

Those sellers who already have access to your potential customer are aware of his current problems and company needs - this is especially true if they additionally act as consultants (see tip 4). If your partners can identify a problem that you can solve, they will recommend you, and many of them will do it for free.

Imagine that you are selling an application to control employees. Team up with a company that provides services for managing internal payments (salaries, social security contributions and more) and tell us why your product is unique. Surely, one of the company's customers will complain about the lack of organization of time tracking, and then the partner will immediately be able to recommend your services.

You can also go further by combining calls to potential customers and conducting marketing campaigns.

When I worked for a company that sold a platform for organizing a business network, I had the opportunity to send out my business proposal using an affiliate database of email addresses. Of course, we repaid this company with the same coin, telling our customers about their services.

8. Write for your industry and use the press

Narrowly focused publications on the problems of a particular industry are one of the best ways to “reach out” to your potential buyers. Given the fact that specialized media is trusted, you will have good chances to increase your brand awareness and get new opportunities for development.

Constantly remind editors of specialized resources about your existence and always be ready to answer questions from online publications when they need a personal opinion of a specialist or any help in preparing a publication. If you do not have time for all this, but there is enough financial means, use PR agencies that work in the sector you need. We will publish the

continuation of the advice of Tim Nguyen in just a couple of days. Do you think these recommendations are applicable in your work?

About the translator

Translation of the article was done in Alconost.

Alconost localizes applications, games and sites in 60 languages. Native translators, linguistic testing, cloud platform with API, continuous localization, project managers 24/7, any format of string resources.

We also make advertising and training videos - for sites that sell, image, advertising, training, teasers, expliner, trailers for Google Play and the App Store.

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