Selling your services to big corporations is an attractive proposition. The contracts are larger than with small businesses and individuals, and often longer-term. There's the possibility of repeat business worth many billable hours at respectable rates. Many refer to this now as Account-Based Marketing (ABM).
But the best clients are not always the easiest to get. If you don't grasp the realities of the corporate environment, you may sabotage even a hot lead.
Here are five selling strategies for working with the corporate buyer.
Managers are busy
Busy managers often ignore an unsolicited email and don't return calls. Even when you are in the final stages of closing a deal, your contact may not return your calls for weeks. If you accept this as normal behavior instead of obsessing about how you may have caused it, you will sleep better at night and use your daylight hours more productively.
Hot Buttons Open Doors
If you want to capture the interest of a busy person, you need to tell them exactly how you can help them.
What do the people in your target market perceive to be the most urgent problems they face or the immediate goals they need to achieve? Ask these questions of the people you serve and the other business people who serve them. Read trade literature or special interest publications and educate yourself on the key issues in your marketplace. Then tell your prospects in every communication how you can help address these needs better than anyone else.
No One Makes a Decision Alone
Large organizations make decisions by committee. Many executives participate in this "buying center," and each has a unique responsibility. Purchasing may be responsible for the "deal," while engineering may be responsible for testing.
Find out who is on the team. Traditional thinking says there will be at least three: the economic buyer, the technical buyer, the end-user. If you want your sale to go through, you need to provide each of these contacts with evidence, from their point of view, why you and your solution are the best choices.
The Bottom Line Rules
When you provide your evidence, it better includes dollars and cents. If you are more expensive than your competition, what added value will you provide? What tangible benefits will they receive that make the added expense worthwhile?
A good selling strategy is to provide real-life examples of results at other companies. Illustrations with charts and graphs are more convincing than any brochure.
No Budget; No Project
No deal will go through if there's no money in the budget.
Always ask if the client has a budget at the first meeting. Don't necessarily expect them to tell you how much it is—price negotiations will come later. But if your contact can't answer budget questions, it's a strong clue you are not talking to the decision-maker.
C.J. Hayden, the author of Get Clients NOW! has been teaching business owners to make money with less effort since 1992. She is a Master Certified Coach and workshop leader.