Here's how even a small firm can stand out in a crowded marketplace and sell into large corporations.
Selling anything to a big company, especially if you are working for a small company, is brutally hard.
You have fewer resources, fewer staffers working for you, and a smaller reputation than your more established competitors. Still, to land a big deal, you have to stand out even more clearly in the minds of your buyers.
Here are three things you need to stand out when you sell to large, corporate clients:
1. A Company Specialty
There's competition in every meaningful business space, but your company is truly unique--you just have to figure out how. For salespeople, answering this question is a matter of life or death. It's not sufficient to have a pat response for how you compete vs. Company X. You need to have a deep understanding of your company's culture, and you need to have a story that illustrates what makes your company different. Showing your prospects the characteristics that set your company apart is key to moving the conversation beyond a checklist comparison.
Before I started Yesware, I was vice president of sales at a very cool voice over Internet protocol company, but we had lots of competition. A big part of our sales culture was to use our prospects' products as part of our pre-meeting preparation. Whenever competitive providers came up, I then emphasized our focus on the prospects’ specific product. Knowing it in detail and having some genuine passion for it was a big part of how we communicated--and stood out.
2. Useful Communications
When a question comes up about your product, proposal, payment terms, or absolutely anything else, you need to have the best answer. "Best," in this case, is a combination of fast and complete. Your response must address all the outstanding issues in clear, tight, direct prose, and it must be delivered within 24 hours of the question being asked. Organizing yourself and your team to deliver on this schedule will definitely make you stand out from your competition. Immediately replying back to questions with "I'm on it" is great, so long as you deliver the real answer within 24 hours of the original question.
When you reach out to your prospect, be useful. Every single time you communicate with your prospect, you make an impression. Don't just "check in" on the proposal; make the interaction relevant. Send a related link, a congratulations about a recent accomplishment, even a cartoon that made you think of your contact. Continually conveying that you help busy lives will set you apart from other salespeople they have to deal with.
3. Well-Rounded Personality
At the risk of sounding like a song from "Free to Be…You and Me," you are different from every other salesperson who has ever sold to this particular company. Strive to discover--and portray--what makes you unique. There's no need to lead the conversation with your personal information, but don't be afraid to let it be known either. Stereotypical diversions like golf, tennis, and boating (all of which I love) don't count. What makes your personality relatable to your prospects? Thousands of other more specific things, like reading Vladimir Nabokov, bee keeping, coding on the side, fixing harpsichords, caring for a family member, or volunteering as a coach or local aide.
Think about and spend time doing those things you genuinely love. If being a better salesperson gives you an excuse to cultivate those passions, that’s great. Seriously, being an original person instead of a sales clone is a powerful thing, both for your prospects and for you.