Connecting with and gaining support from even one big-name client or brand can speed up your company's growth dramatically, letting you lean on a little of the trust they've already built with customers. So how do you get those big names to give you the time of day and potentially change your life forever?
First things first--align
Eric Roudi, CEO and Founder of OpenWorks, has gotten the attention of major companies such as BNSF Railroad, UPS and SpaceX. He says that the biggest element holding entrepreneurs back is that they aren't always on the same page with their sales and operations teams. Everybody has to know exactly what the prospect's pain points are and be working with clear objectives to solve them and seal the deal. Otherwise, your organization is going to look disjointed, and nothing reeks of risk to an established brand like a lack of unity.
Mine for hidden connections
Once you've got everybody working with the same goals and mindset, it's time to do some serious networking. Your first option here is to have employees dig into their friend, family and business relationships. Don't assume that just because someone on your team doesn't have a lot of experience or a title that they don't link to someone else who can help.
"If none of your existing employees have a relationship with the client you are trying to target, get your highest-level leaders involved with the hunt," Roudi advises. "Connect on LinkedIn, send a cold email, make a phone call."
But in the same vein, turn to your existing client base to see if they can open doors, too.
"You never know who does business together," Roudi says, "so there is always a good chance one of your current clients can make an introduction."
No matter which route you go here, Roudi says to be relentless and try to contact multiple people within the target organization at all levels. You still need to be tactful and polite, of course, but a "one and done" mindset just won't cut it.
Timing is everything
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when you're trying to start a relationship with a bigger company is to prioritize your own timeline, rather than what the prospect actually needs. You need to strike because they have and recognize a problem, not because you need a power-up. Watch their operations for the moment when you can step in to fill a real gap.
"The important thing to remember--be brief, be bright, be gone. The preparation it takes to hunt a big-name customer is more important than the actual cold call or email. Your initial contact with the prospect will set the tone of the relationship. Either you win them over or you make them shy away, all because of a 30-second interaction, so make it a good one."
Don't stop proving you're trustworthy
When your prospect is connecting back with you but still hasn't signed on the dotted line, your biggest job is to keep your ears open. At this point, keeping the connection healthy and moving forward depends on continuing to prove to the organization that you're someone they can lean on. You do that by showing how you can address current issues at every step of the process.
"For example," explains Roudi, "if the prospect is frustrated because the incumbent is slow to return calls or emails and is frustrated by a lack of support, a solution would be for you and your team to promptly respond to questions, even if you don't have answers. A simple acknowledgement goes a long way. Also, design your sales pitch to highlight your account management process. Doing this will help quell the prospect's fears, showing that you can provide solutions to their pain points."
Now, yes, reaching out can be intimidating. But if you really have faith in your product or service, if you know for a fact that the big brand needs you and that you can deliver, then grab onto that mentally. Let all the personal stuff go, represent your company with truth and integrity and just remember that everybody in the bigger brand is human, too.