You’re established in your marketplace, you have succeeded in winning some Big-Name-Brand business in your target market, and your reputation for quality is well known. Why then is it so difficult to get more Big Brands to come aboard?
A major factor in your success or otherwise is the nature of the beast. Big businesses, like big ships, take time to turn and many factors may take them off-course. Some of the following ideas may help you steer them your way.
1. Follow through
It takes significant effort on the part of the most motivated sponsor to generate momentum within their organisation. The bigger the organisation, the longer it takes to get buy in from all those who count, and the harder to create forwards motion. And your sponsor will have a myriad of other priorities demanding their time and attention. So it’s essential you keep trying, match their efforts and don’t give up – any time you waste will be offset by the upside gain. Too many sales professionals will read a lack of prospect delivery as a sign that the deal is dead. Make the most of this and stick with it until you learn, from the horse’s mouth, why it’s time to stop and move on.
2. Dedicate specific resources to the task
Whatever your structure for selling, by vertical, geography or size of business, dedicate specific resources to acquiring major accounts. And recognise that this activity is a long game and requires measures of success and a rewards scheme to suit. Can you, for instance, measure prospect advancement through each step in your sales process, such as visits to your showcase suite, or participation in joint workshops? Your sales team will be tempted to dump the long shot in favour of the quick win, especially if your incentive scheme rewards doing so. Find ways to recognise forwards motion and the nurturing of your longer-term prospects, and you will reap the rewards.
3. Tailor your sales process
Build a thorough picture of each target account before presenting your proposition. This is old wisdom; pitching in your offer too soon or to the wrong players puts the whole process at risk. Once you know who holds power, what matters to them, and how their purchasing process works, you can tailor your sales process to add value to it at every step.
4. Cast the net wider
Corporate decision makers may not be receptive to your cold call or email, but they will pay attention if you’ve been recommended by their trusted network of contacts. Consider supplementing your sales capacity by involving your board and other colleagues in the contest to open a deal with your top targets, leveraging their connections as well as your own.
5. Bring in fresh blood
The current approach could be failing because there’s a new influencer standing between you and a win. Ironically a fresh face – within your team – may be more comfortable exploring what’s impeding progress. Even the best salesperson has limiting beliefs which can make them oblivious to other possibilities. So when we believe someone’s a “decision maker”, we often fail to explore what that means, even when we know they won’t be acting solo in long-sales-cycle high-value sales.
Assign a fresh resource to check you really understand how the target organisation is structured for buying what you do. Fresh blood will rejuvenate a sales relationship.
6. Review with care
When carefully thought-through strategy lacks results, you’ll end up asking what went wrong. Why did the promising prospect buy elsewhere? Getting the full picture from a lost prospect may be impossible, and your team will all have views. Listen with care. Capture every reason offered, and when all bets are placed, revisit each in turn and ask where the evidence is to support the claim. Chances are you’ll expose an assumption which is getting in the way of learning how to do better next time.
What strategies have worked for you when targeting corporate or blue chip clients? Share your experiences below in the comments.