Nabbing enterprise clients could mean fewer deals to reach revenue goals. Just one enterprise client could lead to more thanks to the power of word-of-mouth and familiarity — “If this enterprise company likes their solution, then I’ll probably like it too.” 

In this week’s Workshop Wednesday, Simone Bartlett, the CEO & Co-founder of Hugo, talks about tactical tips for landing enterprise clients as an early-stage company. What does it take to get your foot in the door with these massive companies? 

Operate With A Sense Of Urgency, But Be Patient. 

A contradictory statement at first glance. While Hugo is still early on, with three enterprise clients in five years of business, Bartlett has discovered five tactical tips for landing enterprise clients when you don’t have any to boast about. 

Tip number one is to operate with a sense of urgency but be patient! “There’s no value rushing into a no,” Bartlett says. Before you rush in for the sale, you need to assess everything.

  • What’s going on in the market?
  • What’s going on in the company you’re after?
  • What’s going on in society? 

Most companies are trying to minimize the number of vendors, so why should they make room for you? You can operate with a sense of urgency while also doing your due diligence to ensure you’re ready. 

It’s okay not to be ready. It requires swallowing your pride and saying, “I’m not ready for that introduction yet.” And then you get ready so that you can make the deal. 

Become An Insider

Many of you already know the power of having champions for your business. What’s even more potent is having a champion for your business inside the enterprise you’re trying to bag. 

When you approach a new company, learn about them. 

How do the people inside talk about the company, their pain points, solutions they’re after, issues they have with current vendors, etc.? 

Bartlett shares how she met with their first potential enterprise client. She felt certain they’d want a specific solution. If she had rushed in for the deal, it likely would have fallen apart because, after a few conversations, it was clear that the enterprise didn’t want the solution as it was being presented but instead wanted something else. 

When you dig for the information and your patient in your exploration to get it, you can use what you learn to speak to a company in a way they want to hear. 

To become an insider, you should:

  • Talk to as many people within the company as possible to learn the lingo. 
  • Tailor your solution and sales material to meet their specific need in the same language they use when they talk about their problems and desired solutions. 
  • Remember, not every conversation is a sale. Not everyone has a pocketbook, so build relationships with the people who could eventually introduce you to the person with the pocketbook. 
  • Be someone people are excited to talk about because you’re energetic and inquisitive. 
  • Recruit advocates (actual insiders) early. Those people who are excited about you or your solution are gold. Find and nurture them because it’ll pay off big time in the end. 

Bartlett shared one such experience with an insider. They told her how to communicate — and not communicate — about a specific solution. Thanks to this tip on what would scare the client away, she was able to shift the language into something sellable. 

Process, Process, Process

Believe it or not, things are a lot easier once you’ve sold your product or service. The hard part is getting to the point of someone buying your product or service. That’s why there are 50 zillion books written about sales and marketing. 

Process is often the biggest challenge for companies, not capabilities. Processes for getting an enterprise client can be cumbersome and contradictory, often on purpose. They want to keep out vendors as much as possible, only allowing space for the best to get through. 

As an early-stage company, you’ll find it invaluable to invest in understanding the rigorous processes enterprise companies employ and the gatekeepers you’ll likely encounter every step of the way. 

Invest in talent, time, or technology — whatever it takes to jump through enterprise hoops. 

Enterprise People Are People Too

When you’re talking to enterprise people, remember that they’re people too. It can feel like you’re facing some machine when approaching something of massive scale, but at the end of the day, it’s a person sitting at the other end of the table. 

What do people like — even enterprise people? 

  • Familiarity.

    If you look and/or sound like an insider, you’re in. The Black Eyed Peas gave an interview once and said the city they were playing in would determine who they opened their shows with. This built trust through familiarity with their fans.

  • Checking boxes.

    Enterprise people have rigorous processes, which means they love checking boxes. Determine what boxes those are, the basic criteria, and make sure you meet them.

  • Not having to do the heavy lifting.

    If you’re bringing something to the table, even something as simple as an email, do the heavy lifting for them. Is your ask clear enough in an email that they could forward it on without thinking about it? Provide your insiders with clear talking points so your advocates can speak on your behalf. 

Don’t Let The Conversation Die Before It’s Began

It’s hard to be popular when you’re at an early stage. So how do you build rapport with enterprise clients who want to know who else you’ve worked with? It’s not very impressive to tell them you haven’t worked with other enterprise clients. 

So many conversations die at: “Sooo…. Who else are you working with?” Don’t let this be you. 

Getting in with enterprise clients is possible when you’ve never had one. People do it all the time. You just have to do it strategically because no one wants to be your first. 

You’ll have to get creative here to determine your best course of action. You can always compare your solutions with similar clients they’re already familiar with or offer trial periods for them to experience your solutions without risk. 

Key Takeaways

It’s possible to gain enterprise clients as an early-stage company. With these five tactical tips, you’ll have even better chances.

  1. Operate with a sense of urgency, but be patient. 
  2. Become an insider. 
  3. Invest in discovering your target client’s processes. 
  4. Remember that enterprise people are people too. 
  5. Don’t let the conversation die before it begins.

Every Wednesday at 10 a.m. PST, SaaStr will hold live, interactive workshops on Zoom where experts in the community share their insights. Sign up HERE!

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