Winning a huge account can be an important step in the success of your new startup business. The big accounts – whether you are looking for your product to be widely distributed or a big corporation using your services – are usually the largest and most profitable accounts.
However, selling to big companies is tough. Big corporate clients typically look for a strong brand and/or wide customer portfolio – neither of which your startup possesses.
Plus, there’s so much competition at that level as everyone, including other big companies or well-established brands, wants to get that business. In fact, it is highly likely that the account is already being serviced by a more established business, and your task is made even more difficult as get that account, in whole or in part, from their existing suppliers.
So how can your small business win the big corporate account? Just like in one-to-one selling, the key to landing that big customer and winning over more established competitors is to understand the customer and what they are looking for in a supplier.
Here are some factors that will allow your small business to become a partner or supplier of a big company, even winning over bigger competitors in the process:
Credibility of the founder/s or owner/s
With the absence of a strong portfolio of existing customers, you — the owner of the small business — will be the main selling point. The big company will want to see that you have the strong leadership and management skills needed to successfully handle their account. They will need to see your core competency. They will want to see that you have innovative ideas that can benefit them. Hence, you should expect the potential big customer to check on your credentials and references from business contacts and that of your start up team (if any).
Quality of your presentation
How you present your business will be a key factor in helping you land the big account. The decision makers of the big company will be looking for your demonstrable experience and enthusiasm in servicing the account. They will look for your professionalism in presenting the business.
Readiness for business and hard work
You need to convince the big business that you will be able to deliver what you are promising. Sound financials is key; after all, they don’t want to give their account to a new business on shaky financial standing that may go bust the following month. The big client will also look at how operationally efficient your new business is, and whether you follow standard practices required in your industry. They will also want to see a solid startup team, instead of a new business that relies on external consultants.
Strength of your offer
It is important to be explicit in what the customer can gain by accepting your offer. Are you less expensive? Are you likely to give them a better product or service? What is the big business likely to gain by giving your startup the contract? The big business will want to see whether you bring something new or better to the table. They will want to see whether you are really innovating a new product or just re engineering or modifying some existing product.
Cost is another important factor a big business considers in determining whether to give business to startups or not. As a new entrant trying to win their business (especially if you are trying to wrestle the business from an existing supplier), they expect you to offer the least costly alternative.
Flexibility of your offer
During negotiations, the big business may also consider the flexibility of your small business in your short term and long-term commitments to win the account. This can include, but not limited to, accepting longer terms of payment. This is where you need to be careful: in your desire to win the account, you might bend over backwards to the point that your cash-flow will be severely affected.
Relationship with existing suppliers
The client’s satisfaction level with the current suppliers will be an important determinant in whether you can get all or part of the big contract. Some big customers will look for other suppliers, and be willing to entertain startup like yours, if they think that the presence of a new competitor will perk up the existing supplier or provide them with a better deal. The existing supplier may be expensive or late in meeting their obligations or not giving their work the priority the customer needs. Or the big company may have new needs that can be serviced by an additional supplier, hopefully your startup.
Willingness to offer a free trial
Some big companies will ask for a free trial of the services that they need. They want to see whether your startup can produce the results they want before moving forward to forging a business relationship.
Be prepared to start with a small deal and once you have proved yourself to them, the big customer may be more inclined to build on the business relationship and give your small business bigger contracts.
A small business can get a huge account – but remember, that it is not an easy ride.
Read this article for more tips on How to Sell to a Big Company
Recommended Books on How to Sell to Big Companies:
- Playing Bigger Than You Are: How to Sell Big Accounts Even if You’re David in a World of Goliaths
- Selling to the C-Suite: What Every Executive Wants You to Know About Successfully Selling to the Top
- How to Say It: Business to Business Selling: Power Words and Strategies from the World’s Top Sales Experts
- Exceptional Selling: How the Best Connect and Win in High Stakes Sales
- The Fundamentals of Business-to-Business Sales & Marketing
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