Your first enterprise customer is a big deal.
Not only will you learn about the complexity involved in selling to a large enterprise, but it could create momentum that puts your company on a new trajectory.
That’s no reason to shy away from the task ahead. Everybody is trying to sell into the large sizzly brands within the Fortune 500, so the question is: Where do you start?
Our company has had a lot of success here, securing customers like Comcast, Symantec, HP Enterprise and Staples to name a few. Enterprise companies use our sales activity management system to further leverage their investments in Salesforce sales CRM, and more importantly, their sales team.
Here are some lessons we’ve learned from selling to enterprise companies.
4 tips for sales leaders on closing enterprise deals
1. Prepare for multiple decision-makers.
When you sell to a small company, it’s easy to find the internal champion. But a big company comes with politics and influential relationships that you’ll need to navigate. There could be 10-12 people you have to sell to, and they’ve all got to be on board with the purchase.
We recently spent a day coaching employees at a Fortune 500 company on how to explain the value of LevelEleven to their superiors. By the time the meeting came around, they were selling our product for us. You need to be savvy like that. Use the multiple roles to your advantage.
2. Identify a function- or industry-specific use case.
A generic sales pitch won’t cover it. Think carefully about how your product could be used and why this customer is a good match. Really do your homework here. You need to be concise and specific about how exactly you’ll help their business grow faster. Study your top-performing use cases from top to bottom, and practice explaining why it’s applicable to their company.
3. Be patient.
Big companies like to plan. Anyone who’s worked at a large corporation knows there are thousands of processes in place. It’s not in their nature to rush, or at least their definition of “fast” will be wildly different than your own.
Sometimes you’ll get a yes, but the prospect can’t come up with budget for you until 2019. Be a strategic seller. Build a joint timeline with the customer so you both understand the steps that need to happen from right now through rollout. When 2019 comes around, you’ll actually get the deal.
4. Leverage partnerships and connections.
These are powerful credibility builders when selling to large companies. Partners, advisors and investors can act as compelling advocates. As an example, we’ve partnered closely with Salesforce, which is beneficial in multiple ways.
- Credibility: Customers see our 4.9/5 star rating on the AppExchange, as well as our two investments from Salesforce Ventures, as a sign of value. Salesforce trusts us and knows that our product solves real-world problems for sales leaders.
- Community: Whether it’s publishing on Salesforce’s blog or networking at a local meetup, it’s always an honor to join the Salesforce community’s group of thought leaders. We hosted a couple of robust panels at Dreamforce this year, and our product was featured during the sales keynote.
- Compliance: Because LevelEleven is built on the Salesforce platform, big companies don’t have to worry about our quality or security. Our product has instant technical credibility.
Many types of relationships will help you get into the doors of enterprise companies. Get creative. Make a list of colleagues who have the connections to get you in the door. Start out with a few companies based on those connections.
5. Only be a little intimidated.
It’s healthy to be intimidated by the robust process of security reviews, legal reviews, procurement, etc. But don’t be intimidated by your area of expertise. Do be prepared. Big companies can have a lot of demands on your business that you may not be equipped to handle yet.
Most importantly, be mindful of your posture and approach. Own some of your swagger. You are an expert in your domain who is going to bring massive value to this company.
Remember these steps as you develop your enterprise strategy, and you’ll have a solid foundation for growth.