In today’s market, many B2B companies start with a “land and expand” sales approach. This means that they either sell their technology at a low price, or even give it away.
Companies do this to build their customer base, and hope for a future relationship between businesses.
A small company can quickly gain thousands of users. They can also list those big companies as their customers, as a testimonial for future marketing.
Land and Expand can be a great foundation. It helps small companies raise money and gain experience.
However, the difficulty comes when trying to transition away from the “land and expand” approach. The next step is an enterprise sales strategy. This is difficult to achieve when companies are used to “something for nothing”.
Enterprise sales can be a lengthy process. Small companies typically cannot afford to adopt the wrong strategy. With this sales approach, it could be over a year before they realise something isn’t working.
Also, large companies generally like to buy from other large companies. Therefore, a small software company is starting the process at a disadvantage. You need to find the right strategy to sell to big companies, and maintain resources.
How to Sell to Big Companies: Know your Target
Before you even try to sell, it’s key to know who you are selling to. This refers to the person within the company that is making purchase decisions.
This process does require some research, combined with some educated guesswork. Once you have formed a hypothesis, or an estimated target buyer, run tests based on that hypothesis.
For example, you might have some existing customers that you think suit your estimated target. Consider asking them to complete a survey, or conduct interviews and focus groups. Ask them what they think about your technology, and what problems you solve for them. It is important to understand why they are using your tech, over alternatives.
Identify who they are, and what their motivations are. There are literally 100 questions you can ask yourself here but ultimately the point is to understand who your message is intended to target.
How to Sell to Big Companies: Speak their Industry Language
Now you know who your target buyer is. It is important to ensure that your sales and marketing teams have the skills to sell to those buyers. They need to be familiar with the market, and the businesses within the market.
This is a common problem for start-ups. Many promising technologies fail at this hurdle. Often this is due to lack of research. Many startups choose to market and demo their tech, rather than getting to know their market. Your tech may be extremely innovative, but you cannot make sales if your buyers cannot see the use. It’s key to focus on your messaging.
Don’t let the buyer decide how to use it. Your company may be seen as “cool”, but that doesn’t inspire purchases. Demonstrate the use of your solution, and what problems you intend to solve. This should be the primary messaging for your content and your sales pitches.
For example, you could have an amazing technology that you think would be useful for the finance industry. However, your team doesn’t know the finance industry, or how to market there. In this case, no matter how good your tech is, you will struggle to make sales.
At this point, you need to get to know people who know your target industry. Or, consider a different industry, where you have experience. Selling to big companies requires trust and credibility. The decision-makers need to feel comfortable that you know their industry as well as they do, if not better. Without these, sales will likely be slow.
How to Sell to Big Companies: Help Them don’t Sell to Them
The stereotype of a used car salesman often comes to mind when people think of sales. These salesmen even exist in the B2B technology space, too.
Too many business owners get weekly calls from salespeople looking to talk about their technology. They typically start by framing their tech as “the best on the market”. This is typically untrue, or at best unrealistic.
Usually, the potential buyer will completely lose attention at this point. Buyers don’t want to feel “sold to”. Begin by focusing on having a conversation. Good enterprise salespeople know their customer and the problems they are facing. They use this information to position themselves accordingly during phone calls or meetings.
Here’s an example of using your target buyer to make a pitch:
“I know with MiFID II the equity team is slammed with extra analysis work. INSERT NAME had the same problem and we found a way to address it. Can we take a quick call to talk about how we can free up your team’s workload by 40%?”
How to Sell to Big Companies: Get Ready for Purchasing
Big companies have complex purchasing processes that you need to be aware of before making your pitches. You need to research and understand your market, before approaching decision-makers and making any sales attempts. Ensure that you meet necessary requirements.
For example, an EU company wanting to sell in the US will need a US subsidiary. Without this, the sales process will come to a standstill. The purchasing company will lose faith in the sale if these details are missed. Or, in certain sectors, you will need to have certain security certifications.
Early in your sales process, you need to ask about purchasing. You need to know if you can start the process to be a registered vendor.
It isn’t impossible to sell to big companies. Many other small companies have made the transition. You just need to work smart. The key is not to reinvent the wheel. Take advantage of what others have learned, and avoid those same mistakes.
At Nituno, we understand the world of marketing and sales to big companies. We know the tech sector, and take the time to learn and understand your buyers. Get in touch with us today for your next marketing and sales push.