Pulling up the information of the headquarters of a Fortune 500 company to make a pitch can be an unnerving task- you may feel a twinge of panic. This is completely normal! Landing a sale from a customer this big could be a massive boon for your organization. After all, the budget for one of their small projects could cover your payroll for the whole year.
But in reality, there isn’t anything to fear. Sales never really changes- you’re not selling to a corporation; you’re selling to a person. Here’s some truths about big companies:
1) They Move Incredibly Slowly
Large companies have processes, procedures, a million meetings and policies. Make sure you don’t depend on a deal until the contract is signed and the ink is dry. Treat these big deals as the feather in your cap– even if finalizing this deal would easily double your sales numbers. Once the leadership in these large companies know that you depend on them, you’ve given them all of the power.
2) Big Companies Absolutely Loathe Risk
The biggest priority for an employee at any big company is to not get fired. Don’t expect your contact at a large corporation to stick their neck out for you. Once decision makers smell risk, they’ll drop off the face of the planet or will begin to give you excuses about delays. Make sure your proposal is on point and make an effort to not project weakness.
3) CEOs Don’t Value Discounts, They Value Solutions
Big companies don’t care about discounts or low-cost solutions. They’re completely happy paying a premium for services to avoid a few glitches in the process. Stop thinking about cheap solutions when building, don’t cut corners, and you’ll be in the clear.
You should dedicate resources to making life easier for large corporate stakeholders and executing as flawlessly as possible. It can take forever to get corporate approval at these huge companies- you may get unreasonable deadlines as well. Be prepared to cope if you want the deal to close.
4) Win Big Contracts By Doing This…
Large corporations don’t have to play by the same rules that early-on startups do. In order to win these big deals and put your best foot forward by keeping the following in mind:
Become The Expert. When large companies seek out an expert, they are looking for the person who wrote the book on the niche they need filled. It doesn’t matter that your company is small– expertise should be huge. Take the time to speak at conferences, write articles in known publications and seek out opportunities that exist in niche markets as well.
Give Amazing Gifts. An obvious observation: small businesses don’t have the same resources as big ones. Don’t try and match them at their own game, you’ll most certainly lose. It’s imperative that you don’t compete in traditional ways. Get creative with your gift-giving. Focus on leaving an impression and you’ll close that deal in no time.
Make Working With You Easy. By the time they’ve talked to you, the employees at major companies have gone through enough meetings, reports, and phone calls to last a lifetime. Work extra hard to anticipate their needs. Write the drafts of the emails they need to send to their bosses. Anticipate the obstacles they’ll be facing and provide solutions before your stakeholders ask for them. Learn who the top decision-maker is and customize your services/packages to appease that person. This doesn’t only make you look good, it makes your contract stand out as well.
Ultimately, you want the big company to view you as their secret weapon. Being small and agile allows you to get things done that the bigger companies just can’t even touch. Big companies view small budgets as something that needs full attention. Capitalize on this and convince the people at the bigger company that you are able to do what other firms can’t.
How to Sell To Large Companies
Many small businesses make basic mistakes when they pitch to large companies. You can avoid these basic mistakes by following these steps:
- Do Your Homework
You want to them to know that you’ve researched their business. Prepared entrepreneurs already know the prospect’s needs and what they’re using currently. They’ve done their due diligence, checked the competition and are ready with an explanation of how their services are better.
- Be Ready With A Short Pitch
Those who think the elevator pitch is a dead tactic are dead wrong. Short pitches are alive and well in the hallowed halls of large company vendor departments- especially when these companies hold supplier day events. Be ready to explain what you do and why you’re better in 60 second increments. Instead of asking them what they need, explain what your organization does really well and why you’re a better option than their current solution.
- Get Financials Organized
Big company buyers will most certainly investigate your credit at any time during their relationship with you. These companies see doing business with you as a risk and as we mentioned above, big organizations hate risk. If your credit review shows you’re in the red, you could lose the account.
- Be Ready To Deliver
Big corporations will not be amused if you don’t have the manufacturing capacity to sell your products to a national chain. If your production levels are an inhibitor, make it clear before you sign a deal with any company. Big companies are most interested in forging ongoing relationships- they would rather not make spot buys, so it’s up to you to evaluate if you can provide the volume you need.
- Master The Follow-Up
Corporate buyers are busy people. It’s an art to find the balance of persistence and annoyance, but you have to learn in order to show buyers that you’re serious. End every meeting you have with buyers in big companies with asking “What is the best way for me to follow up with you?”
First Impressions Count
You’ll only get a single opportunity to make a first impression. If your offering isn’t ready for production, don’t make the appointment just yet. If you’ve yet to define the benefits that you can offer the company you’re proposing solutions to, don’t book the appointment.
Your initial pitch should be overwhelmingly memorable- it’s ideal if you are able to offer an immediate action plan for the company you’re pitching services to. If you’re not even pushing your SaaS product live for another 3 quarters, the pitch will be lost in time. Wait until you can hit the ground running to book appointments.
Acquiring a large account can be company changing, but not without some groundwork laid out at first. Wait until you have the stats, the data to back it up and the product that impresses people at your pitch meeting. Don’t put the cart before the horse and lose an opportunity that could be a huge revenue source for your company because you got excited and pitched too early. You can sell dreams to venture capitalists and private investors, but this isn’t the space to do so- Corporate America will not be impressed.
[About the author: Kristen Bowie is a marketing leader, forging the path with data-driven decisions. When she’s not writing for thought leadership and creating sponsorship proposals at Qwilr, she’s hanging out with her two urban dwarf goats, painting, or is out watching a local band.]