How to Sell to Big Companies
If you are new to sales at some stage you will want to learn how to sell to big companies. It’s common for most ambitious sales people and businesses, yet this can be a challenging or even, a near impossible experience. For example finding the right people to talk with (yes there will also be more than one decision maker) can be like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack, and then trying to coordinate all these decision makers can be like herding cats. The longer sales cycles that inevitable arise from having multiple decision makers in a complex sale, then frustrate most sales people as time inevitably drags on. The large revenues that Corporate sales can deliver, more often than not prove so elusive that the sales people give up and focus on the smaller opportunities, they know they can convert. In some circumstances however it can take the same amount of sales resources to convert a small opportunity as it does when selling the same product or service to a big company, so don’t give up just yet.
How to Sell to Big Companies
The fact is, it is possible to sell to big companies and large organisations, although it does need a slightly different approach and we would suggest you try the following:
1. Research the big company in question and find out what their 3 -5 year business strategy is, and then understand how what you do, can help them achieve their strategy; this is critical before you make any approach. Please note large corporations publish and make available their strategy to shareholders, you just have to find it.
2. Learn and understand their management system, for example if they use the Balanced Scorecard learn which individuals have the problem you solve on their Personal Scorecard. If you are talking to the wrong person even the best solution might not get an audience.
3. Once you know the person or persons you need to target, create and plan a sales campaign to target them. Most sales people make the mistake of trying to sell their product or service once, being ignored or rejected, and then giving up. This should be a long term play.
When you sell to big companies may also need some additional sales resources that are not as commonly used when selling to smaller organisations, such as a Business Case, a Cost Benefit Analysis, Board Presentations and Proposals. If this sounds like lots of work, then Yes it is, and because of this many companies will not rely on any one individual, and instead they will work as a team to win large accounts. Part of that team should include Marketing in order that you can target the right people in the buying organisation, with the right messaging, at the right time. Run the sales campaign as a mini project with scope, roles and responsibilities, costings, objectives and milestones. Needless to say that it usually makes sense to be targeting more than one big company if you are going to do this professionally, but don’t make the mistake of having too many, as the campaign can then turn into a marketing initiative which by their very nature are more generic. The key to success is that all the messaging must be bespoke and relevant to every target which takes time, which is time that you won’t have if you have too many targets.
Before you start selling to big companies there are however two important considerations you should address as follows:
1) Does your company have the capability to successfully deliver a project on the scale that a big company will require?
In most cases you will only get one chance to sell to a big company and delivering success for your first big company will also give you a reference point that will help you sell to other big companies.
2) Does your company have the financial resources required to sell to a big company?
If you buy materials in January to create stock for February and have agreed 90 day payment terms this means you have to run 150 days without being paid. Most small businesses are not sufficiently funded to do this, so be careful what you wish for.
Selling to big companies can transform your business, but like most things in life it’s usually not easy and doesn’t happen overnight, but it certainly can be worth it.
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