Big deal: 5 ways to make it in enterprise sales

by Molly Each
May 8, 2017

For B2B startups, the appeal of enterprise selling is clear: You're getting your product into a blue-chip company with global reach — reaping significant financial rewards. But if you’re used to selling to small and mid-sized organizations, you’re in for a surprise.

“Enterprise selling is a different kind of sales,” said Jim Mattei, Sales and Sales Management Consultant at Sandler Training. “You're calling on big organizations, dealing with multiple people across divisions, and the selling cycle can be a year or more. Your approach has to be strategic. You need a quality process.”

To get in on the enterprise action, read these five tips for successful enterprise selling:

Walk away wisely. Enterprise selling requires a hefty investment in human, managerial and logistical resources — not to mention a significant financial commitment. It's essential to determine quickly whether an opportunity is worth pursuing. If the risk of failure is high (maybe your sales team lacks experience in a given industry or your staff doesn't have a personal connection with the buyer), try to solve for that.

"If you can't, you will likely have quantifiable evidence of why you shouldn't pursue the opportunity,” said Brian Sullivan, Sandler's resident enterprise selling expert.

Walking away means you can invest those valuable resources in more promising prospects.

Grow Your Enterprise Sales with Sandler Sales Training  

Sandler offers sales training to help you maximize your prospecting and avoid missing opportunities to generate new referrals and sales, including with regard to enterprise sales. Learn more.

Know your buyer network. In selling to small or medium-sized businesses, you work with one or two buyers. To succeed in enterprise sales, you'll have to win over a vast network of people.

“They all represent different functions,” said Sullivan. “It's important to understand how they all interrelate.”

Visit an organization's LinkedIn page for a deeper dive into a company's structure. You'll find information on what Sullivan calls the “buyer network,” including key decision makers, how they relate to each other and how you're connected to them. This gives you a foundation on which to build relationships.

Emphasize value. Smaller companies tend to buy the best-priced products or services. But in the enterprise world, value wins. So instead of selling your features, benefits or price, provide unassailable business value to a prospective client. Sullivan recommends a simple value proposition.

“Know your product or service, what it does, how it benefits your prospect and how the prospect will measure the benefit,” he said.  

Research the competition. In the enterprise sales world, your competitors are likely to be armed with sophisticated processes and solid experience. To build your strategy, understand your competition and their value proposition.

“In the dark, every cat is a leopard,” Sullivan said. “Researching a competitor turns the lights on and gives you the knowledge needed to make quality decisions.”

Stay involved. Still more opportunity lies in what happens after you win the business. Securing the sale means you're on the inside and privy to new insights that can help you win additional business. Specifically, the delivery team can identify additional areas in which your company can offer solutions, creating new opportunities for sales reps to leverage.

“Ask a prospect, ‘What's important to you?’ and they might give you a generic answer,” Sullivan said. “But when you're on the same side of the desk, the client wants you to know what’s really important. You've earned the right to information that will help you be more successful.”


Photo via Shutterstock

Sandler offers sales training to help you maximize your prospecting and avoid missing opportunities to generate new referrals and sales, including with regard to enterprise sales. Learn more.


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