Today we’ll examine the third area of sales genres, the enterprise. See Part 1 of this series for an explanation and disclaimer about profiles, as well as discussion of the SMB customer, and Part 2 for the midrange customer.
Let’s review the third level of B2B prospects:
- 500-1000+ employees, national, global, B2B customer base
- Multiple decision makers/committee/board
- 90 to 120+ day cycle
Everybody, and I mean every salesperson in the world, dreams about that one huge opportunity that brings in big revenue from a well-known, high-value account. It is referred to as a “whale.” There is big money, large teams with multiple resources dedicated to closing the deal and equally large implementation teams for delivery, installation, configuration, training and ongoing support.
Enterprise prospects generally travel two different paths: commodity or strategic.
In the commodity journey, a sales rep is more a logistics expert, providing pricing, technical comparative resources, availability, order processing, delivery, and managing the post-installation support, if any. The responsibility of the selling professional, indeed the entire process, ends at providing pricing, and delivery as the customer self-maintains the entire process from evaluation to end of life.
A more strategic relationship includes all the above plus a deeper degree of business acumen and the ability to recognize organization-level challenges, propose realistic approaches, and co-manage implementing a solution helping the prospect reach corporate goals.
Bigger deals, longer relationships, deeper understanding of BOTH organizations and integration between seller and customer infrastructure – order entry, delivery, support structure, etc.
In essence, enterprise opportunities mean larger investment in time, money, and resources from both the seller and consumer side of the equation. Dollar amounts can be large; into the thousands of devices, hundreds of hours and millions of dollars invested on both sides.
We’ll concentrate on the more detailed and involved relationship of the enterprise accounts.
Approach: Pursue and attract.
Of all the prospect types, content, articles, face-to-face, off-site, social engagements, cost-benefit, analysis including hard and soft costs.
Many decision influences, four types: budget approval, user, requirements, ally. Board, committee, or team, analyzed from many angles and agendas. A purchasing department, executive, administrative, and end-user influences are always present in a complex, enterprise-level engagement.
When working with an enterprise-level prospect, the selling professional orchestrates multiple resources and buying forces, aligning subject experts with prospects’ needs and challenges, all in an effort to illustrate the current situation and daily impact, proposing an answer to an agreed upon problem, and successfully building a mutually satisfying relationship – exchanging value for value given.
Many people, four types, dynamic. There will be more people directly involved with the process, in addition to anyone you speak with in the discovery or assessment process. Not only more numbers, but you will also run into four types of influences that may or may not be individuals or teams – the budget, the user, the admin, and your advocate. Books have been written on how to deal with each – we won’t go into detail here.
Tools: Media, email, webinar, personal relationships, expert content and referrals
This is a dance, and attracting, then keeping the attention of your prospect is paramount. In today’s world, your prospects seek out information before contacting a selling professional – they will know more about you than you think. Getting information in front of your prospect is the most important aspect of all.
Research all the time and on all platforms. The current number one source is LinkedIn, but don’t forget the standard email alerts, saved searches, and especially your local media and news outlets. Obviously look for articles about your prospect but finding an article written by a contact is gold. Read the article, twice, honestly comment on the article, and share the piece with colleagues online.
The best way to communicate and establish yourself as someone to align when it comes to solving business problems is to create content. Curating other experts’ content is beneficial, especially when couple with your express review and opinion.
Utilize ALL channels.
Expectations: Ceremony and time
Professional attitude ceremony.
Although the past few years have made business casual more casual, an enterprise account still expects, and deserves, a certain level of ceremony, and adherence to corporate and social norms. A professional appearance and decorum are required; one can never go wrong dressing above expectations.
Be ready to make presentations in front of more than one person in an executive board room or out back on the shipping dock.
Be on time, unless you’re working in L.A. Everybody is late in L.A. Don’t complain, professionals do not tolerate whinners and whatever you do, don’t talk down the competition, your only competition is the face in the mirror.
Longer time frame, more money
It is going to take more time to bring an enterprise-level opportunity to fruition. There are more people involved; the decision process needs to follow a more involved process. More than anything, people’s schedules are the most challenging aspect.
They know more about you than you think.
Because of a higher investment and many people involved, odds are they will be researching your solution, your dealership and you prior to inviting you in and before moving forward. You should assume they know everything that the internet knows – this could be a good or bad thing, not sure.
Expect a longer selling cycle – the bigger the deal, the more time it will take to decide and implement. It is the way of things in larger corporations.
In the end, reaching the degree of expertise it takes to bring home an enterprise account only comes with working your way through failed attempts.
There is no way around this; as a matter of fact, I believe it is a detriment to succeed on your first attempt at selling a large account. Now you think it is easy. Now your peers envy you and look for reasons other than you’re good at selling for your “luck.” You just set expectations with management. Congratulations, your quota is going up next year.
I love large accounts and the strategic approach each demands. But truth be told, I really enjoy talking about document management, IT security and increasing sales through color over beers on the company picnic table “out back.”
It is all good.
I wish you the best and hope you found a couple of nuggets of knowledge in this series.
Cheers, and sell on!
A few more tactical tidbits to remember:
- Be professional but approach everyone as a colleague, you are not a subordinate.
- Provide long-form articles from experts with your opinion.
- Use a two-to-three-page recommendation.
- Answer all questions, even those about pricing.
- Don’t sell, solve.
is an entrepreneur and founder of the notorious destination site TheDeathOfTheCopier, where he comments on all things imaging, the rise of managed services and the advance of business technology. A prolific writer and frequent speaker, Greg shares his passionate, unique – and often provocative – view of technology and people, addressing the impact of digital on 21st century business. His 2014 book, Death Of The Copier, offers a controversial summary of the early days of Managed Print Services and the not-so-distant future of the hard copy industry. Reach out to Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org.