So, You Want To Sell the Enterprise?

Every Start-up reaches that point where the “Enterprise” segment becomes the next Step… I mean, just look at all that money. They are big, their logos would look so sexy on your web-site and again, look at all that money.

For some, it is not the appropriate next step. More often, businesses get sunk because of the amount of resources it takes to swim in this pond.

It is OK to dip your toe in and determine what it will take for you to sell to the Enterprise.

Before we start, just because you have soled to a couple of larger organizations have bought from you, does not lean you already to proactively sell to the Enterprise. Listen to the early adopters but most in the Enterprise space are not.

You won’t be perfect at it so move forward and keep getting better. Have an answer for what is below. Even if it not perfect, just don’t be surprised. You need to look like you have been there, even if you haven’t

First, Define what Enterprise means to you. … Global 2000. Fortune 1000, Companies over $1B, Companies over 5000 employees, Large Law Firms, etc. If you can’t define it, please don’t try and sell to it. Remember, Aim small, miss small as you get started. Test everything on your way to big.

Next, Is your product/service Ready?   Time to take a long look in the mirror and ask a couple hard questions:

  • Do we provide value to this segment? What changes need to be made?
  • Does the product of service work the way a large organization will use it?
  • Can we actually roll it out? Even SAAS has to scale.

Now, Can you sell it?

Sales Cycles tend to be much longer as the deals get bigger. Weeks will become months and it will be weeks even after you hear, “yes.”  Here are some of the top things you will have to prepare for:

  1. Security – Whether it is specific regulations like HIPPA, GLBA, or ISO27001, every Enterprise customer has a least one Security Expert whose job it seems like it just to say, “Will this work with our security?”
  2. Liability – You may not have had to deal with this before but get ready and make sure your contracts are tight and your contract team has experience.
  3. Professional Procurement – Welcome to working with people where buying things is their full-time job. They are judged by their ability to get a good deal for their company. .. Not yours. They get things done but also make sure it follows a process. This will not speed up your deal.
  4. Pricing – Don’t, Don’t, Don’t fall into the trap of giving pricing early. You will feel this pricing pressure throughout the sales process. This is a negotiation… from Beginning to End. Too often the eager beaver is stuck eating a toothpick because he gave away the tree.
  5. RFP – These three letters (or the just as nefarious RIP and RFQ) have been written on more tombstones of start-ups who had an innovative solution. You job at this level is to get to the next step. Don’t provide more resources than are necessary but make sure you nail it.
  6. Contracts – The negotiation, the process and the contracts will all of a sudden get longer and
  7. Size – People have to believe your company will be around. People will not risk their job for even a better technology if they think there is a chance. Your bigger competition will drop landmines all over this one.
  8. Cost of Sales – Sales people become more expensive, Cost of sales go up with travel. Make sure you test your way into this as well. Make sure there is substance in your sales team and leaders, not just flash.
  9. Cost of Support – Welcome to Quarterly Business Review, metrics, etc. These customers are going to want a dedicated person or team. They will stand in line for resolution.

Many SAAS and Platform Start-Up companies today are making a killing in the SMB and Mid-Market. Fewer of them have made a significant impact in enterprise. Eventually, you will need to navigate this jump into the ocean of Enterprise Selling like Salesforce, LinkedIn, etc.

We did not touch on using a Reseller Network, VAR and Partners to sell. We will touch on that one later.

You may decide to not play, yet. Continue to let the early adopters teach you as you go. Enterprise Selling will change how your organization Goes-to-Market, so go in with Eyes Wide Open.

What Did I Miss? Would love your thoughts.

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