At the start, a young company working with large clients can spend between six months and three years on one sale. To build a sales process and reach dozens of sales per year, it is inevitable to make a lot of mistakes.
Error #1 Going from small customers to large
Many startups start (and continue for a long time) selling their solutions to small businesses – usually to themselves. Such startup clients have not yet set up a business, due to lack of experience they cannot assess the quality of the product professionally – and buy not because the product is valuable, but because the seller has good skills. Owners of newly opened companies will buy a “raw” product from you – and you will mislead yourself about its readiness for a full-scale scaling.
Go to an experienced, “heavy” client. First of all, it will help you to bring your product to mind more quickly – if it fails, it will most likely explain how to improve its functionality. Secondly, a case with a top client increases sales multiple times.
To get an experienced client, let him understand that your task is to make a successful case and bring real benefit, and in the presence of feedback you are ready to try with minimal benefit for yourself.
Error #2 Afraid to sell to corporations
For two years I have lived with confidence that for large sales I need an ideal product and impressive analytics. I was afraid that there would be no second attempt to make an impression, and I wanted to immediately hit a large client with a specific case for his company.
This is a hallucination. Large companies easily agree to experiments – they have a safety margin. Corporations are ready to use raw products if they solve real problems – for example, an increase in conversion or an average check when the price of success is higher than the price of failure. And it is often impossible to make a case for a corporation: if it is a conventional Russian Railways, there is no second such company in the country, and therefore there is no possibility to prepare a relevant case.
We need to go to the corporation and say openly that there are no cases, but there is an idea of a custom solution, as well as competence in this area. Especially if the task of the product is not to save from serious problems, but to improve the processes.
Error #3 Focus on a specific official
My product is often bought by marketers, but it can be sold to a large company not only through them. When we started working with restaurant holdings, we came to partners, management companies and restaurant directors. When selling to one chain store they could not close the deal through the marketing department – as a result, the decision to purchase was made by the director of the technical department (he needed the equipment that we provided in a package with software).
Try to reach a large client through different “doors” and “windows”. Corporations have a complex internal structure, and the motives for buying your product may be such that you do not even guess – unlike small businesses, where often all decisions are made by the owner.
Error #4 Believe in the phrase “We will buy your product, but a little later”
Either your product is ready to buy here and now, or not ready to implement such a solution in principle. If you are promised to return to negotiations “in the next quarter” or “in a month”, it means only one thing: your product does not solve the priority tasks for the client. You can try to find an employee in the company who is more interested in you – or go and refine the product.
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Error #5 Underestimate the internal lobbyist
This is an employee who is interested in our product now (not after 3 months, six months or a year). It’s easy to recognize – it’s someone you’re helping to solve a problem or perform a KPI. As soon as you find it, start helping to make a presentation and protect your project inside the corporation, share your competences (often faith in them means more than the product itself), and be as open as possible.
Error #6 Sell alone
We learned how to sell our solution quickly and efficiently to corporations only after we have distributed the roles at different stages of the sale:
Collect business cards. The task of the seller at this stage is to get acquainted a lot and accumulate the maximum number of contacts. Various conferences or events (for example, FRII shows its portfolio to large customers) help. At such pitch-sessions, we get acquainted with the corporations we need.
1. To hold the first meeting. At this stage, it is important for another seller to find an internal lobbyist and sell him a solution.
2.Meeting with the working group. Often at this stage, it is not the businessmen who are important for profit who meet anymore, but those who are responsible for launching the project on both sides.
3.Signing the contract. This stage can take up to 80% of the time from the whole deal, so it is better to have an individual responsible for it.
Only when we launched such a “conveyor” did we have a working sales funnel.
Error #7: Let the sales process run smoothly
The entire process is your sole responsibility, and you need to coordinate it entirely. Don’t think you’re pushing or pushing hard, as the employee has a lot to do within the corporation, and will be grateful if you remind them of the general arrangements. The chances of closing a deal will increase if you follow the principles:
1. If you are promised an answer in two days and have not been answered, do not wait another couple of days to be reminded of yourself.
2. The tempo at which you have started will always accompany you. If you answer letters in 24 hours, you will be answered in the same way.
3. Make an agreement right away that every two weeks – and at least every two weeks – you will write a letter fixing the traction. If you’ve been forgotten for more than two weeks, it’s a reason to remind you that your common cause hasn’t moved from the old mark.
Error #8 Predict the difficulties you have not yet encountered
Our brains often come up with problems that haven’t happened yet, and we go to solve them – instead of going to the goal. In the end, instead of moving towards closing the deal, we circle the far-fetched difficulties.
What to do with it? Meditate.