B2B organizations are experimenting (some are going all-in) with an Enterprise sales model – where a salesperson represents all of the firm’s solutions to solve more substantial and more strategic customer challenges.
Why the shift to Enterprise selling? They are doing it for the money.
Traditional product selling in many industries has transformed into hand-to-hand combat with competitors, with margins, market share, and wallet share shrinking.
Selling to the Enterprise is a different game that requires a different way of thinking and working, which demands a different approach.
After 15 years of helping clients focus on selling to large companies, here are three insights we’ve learned to help navigate the world of Enterprise sales.
You Must Build A Stakeholder Parthenon
If you aren’t multi-threaded into the organization chart, you won’t understand how decisions are made (which is different than the buying process) and you’ll miss the opportunity to fully assess the culture and potential challenges to your company’s competitive position.
Enterprise salespersons sell solutions, so there’ll be many more stakeholders than a traditional product sales approach. You will need to embrace a multitude of stakeholders and find what makes them “tick.” And it’s not just a one-time meeting. Maintaining an open dialogue with multiple stakeholders is crucial, as it will help cultivate awareness and confidence in your company as time goes by.
You also must become adept at using and leveraging LinkedIn (LinkedIn Navigator preferred) to establish and strengthen meaningful connections with stakeholders. You’ll need a content strategy to support the effort, as reaching out to “touch base” and “stay connected” is so 1990s.
Let the assigned sales or operations teams focus on the day-to-day contacts – where your traditional competitors are. You’ll be in other parts of the organization where they are not.
Recalibrate Your Time Horizon
The Enterprise solution selling cycle is longer than product selling, so 12 months to two or more years is not uncommon. If you are genuinely vested in the Enterprise customer or prospect, you’ll need discipline not to become distracted with the near term, tactical opportunities. I’m not suggesting that you walk away from opportunities, but if you are spending a material portion of your time on tactical opportunities, you’ll remain at the tactical level in the customer’s eyes.
Larger, more strategic, and profitable deals don’t come from the traditional buying process. Sure, procurement will be involved, but your ultimate goal is to shape business cases for change that drive significant gains the customer’s business performance; those won’t be coming from procurement. If you do that, you’ll be in the driver’s seat to win. Ultimately, the trust you’ve built with the customer will be the deciding factor in swinging things your way.
Build a relevant and pragmatic Account Plan – without one; you’ll be lost. Remember, only dead fish go with the flow.
Get Your License To Be Creative
Many organizations embark on an Enterprise selling initiative, but they limit themselves by filtering strategic conversations and opportunities through their traditional internal selling and decision-making approach. Large multi business-unit or multi-geography opportunities often get bogged down over revenue sharing, pricing thresholds, operational constraints, and risk-reward levers that become distorted outside the internal silos.
The license to be Creative should not be limited to the Enterprise salesperson. Operations, engineering, finance, and other functional areas must also be brought on board to work outside of the traditional internal selling model. Otherwise, you’ll be providing back to the customer traditional solutions in an attempt to solve strategic customer problems.
Being creative sounds straight forward, but it can be one of the most challenging things for a mature organization to pull-off.
Enterprise selling can drive significant gains in revenue and profit growth when well-executed. The ROI can be off the charts if you stay disciplined and are patient.