You’ve been trying to reach the decision-makers of a big business for the longest time. Finally, now’s your shot. But, what’s the best way to approach them? 

The first thing to remember is that SMB (small and medium-sized businesses) and enterprise sales are not the same. The scale and the angles are different; the variables a top-level company takes into account are unique to their size.

You’re going to face a new kind of challenge. So, you’ll need a strategy to go with it. Only make contact once you’re sure that your prospects will be interested in what you have to say. There’s no room for wasted time or half-ready pitches.

If you tank the enterprise sale, that’s it. There’s no redos. However, don’t worry. You can simply let us manage your sales process. We’ve already generated over $100,000,000 for our B2B clients.

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How To Land an Enterprise Client in 3 Steps

Sales 07:15: min

What is an Enterprise Sales Cycle?

Enterprise sales (also known as complex sales) refers to the process of obtaining large contracts. Enterprise sales are typically defined by a long sales cycle with a multitude of decision-makers involved. 

The level of risk tends to be higher than in typical B2B (business-to-business) sales to SMBs. The stakes are higher, so your potential gain (as a seller), and an enterprise’s potential loss are both bigger by default.

Unlike traditional B2B sales, corporations have more stakeholders, each having something to gain or lose depending on how well business goes. Moreover, stakeholders aren’t always on an equal footing. Some could be on the board of directors, while others could be investors.

Enterprises are a very delicate ecosystem to navigate as a salesman. However, a great salesperson will know how to highlight positives which resonate with all important decision-makers.

What you must keep in mind is that there’s only one thing that truly matters when you make your pitch: profit. Will your product or service increase the profit margin of your enterprise lead? If your honest answer is “no”, or “not yet”, then don’t bother. Enterprise-level decision-makers are experienced people.

They’ve been doing business for years and years, and they know when something doesn’t add up.

Enterprise Sales vs. SMB Sales

Unsurprisingly, the main differentiating factor is size. Because of the proportions of a big company, enterprise sales become characterized by:

  • Long sale cycles (6+ months on average).
  • Significant risks for all parties.
  • Many stakeholders, which have to be convinced.
  • Lengthy negotiations with a lot of back-and-forth.
  • Very financially valuable contracts.

On the flipside, we have SMB sales, which have:

  • Only a few key decision-makers (or even just 1).
  • Little to no stakeholders.
  • Lower risks, because of the scale and budget.
  • Simpler negotiations, since there are fewer factors to account for.

Basically, you can’t sell to a corporation or another similarly large enterprise with an SMB strategy. If you predict sales quotas without changing your tactics, you’ll hit a wall fast.

Even if you’re selling the same product or service to both SMBs and an enterprise, it’s not the same thing. One is buying for 10, 20, 50 employees. The other is buying for 500 – 1000+. 

Upfront costs are automatically higher, and there could even be an overhead cost depending on what you’re selling. Additionally, you won’t find success if you bring SMBs arguments into an enterprise’s conference room. They’ve surpassed that level a long time ago, and are looking towards other horizons.

Build your script and structure your approach accordingly. Always focus on what your current lead could really benefit from. See if your organization can provide that with what you’re selling. If the answer is “yes”, then your selling strategy around that.

The 6 Usual Traits of an Enterprise Sale

There are a few common practices for any enterprise sales process. We advise you to integrate them into your strategy.

1. Many Decision-Makers

On average, 6 to 10 people need to sign off on an enterprise sale. With the organization being larger, the number of decision-makers you have to convince automatically goes up. 

If you can’t deal with juggling a lot of stakeholders, that’s a problem. There’s a considerably high chance that each of them will want to speak to you, get to know you, and understand why they should buy from you.

To avoid getting burned out, structure your message, USP (unique selling proposition) and pitch ahead of time. Adjust their delivery depending on the particularities of the stakeholder you’re discussing with. 

It’ll save you a few headaches.

2. A Focus on Connections

If you’ve been selling to SMBs a lot, you’ve surely gotten used to jumping from one prospect to another. To keep presenting demos and pitch to different businesses even on the same day. You have to stop thinking like that. 

You have to be all-in for an enterprise sales cycle. Building a rapport with stakeholders is a must, no way around it. No matter the type of business you’re trying to sell to, this remains just as true.

Interpersonal relationships are valued extremely more in this case. Deals can quickly turn sour and fall apart if trust and mutual profit isn’t guaranteed.

In both the east and the west, expect to have multiple conversations that will significantly impact the outcome of your sales efforts. You need to get in front of all the right people that have a say in accepting or rejecting your offer.

One great way of gaining a prospect’s trust is “branding” yourself as the provider of a helpful service that they need for improved profitability. You need to understand their pain points and what’s important to them.

Realistically, in a sales process, what you want is virtually irrelevant. You can only achieve your goal by helping them achieve theirs with what you’re selling. 

So, focus on what issues they have, and why your solution is perfect to erase them.

3. Substantial Profit…

There’s significant ROI at the end of the road. All the time you’ve invested into your enterprise leads can result in your solution being applied on a very large scale. In other words: revenue!

4…But a Long Sales Cycle

You’re most likely not going to close a deal in 30 or 60 days. Avoiding the red tape is not possible, and it could be a detrimental idea to try. 

Jumping through hoops and going over the head of other stakeholders can actually be to your disadvantage.

One dissatisfied decision-maker can quickly convince others that your organization is not someone they should be doing business with. In the end, it’s mostly about trust, not facts and logic.

Keep your cool, present a large smile and patiently offer answers and clarifications whenever they’re requested.

5. High Risk

It’s a big time investment for you, and a lot of money for the enterprise. Each side will tread its ground carefully. However, this can also mean that the deal won’t be accepted in the end because negotiations come to a halt.

That’s not only potential revenue lost, but also months and months in which you would have focused on smaller, but more numerous, SMB sales.

6. Quality-Driven

While SMBs will always try to save money, enterprises have the means of acquiring top-shelf solutions. It’s a mistake to lead with “we’re a cheap and effective alternative”.

The moment you focus on price or “cheapness” yourself, you’re willingly associating your brand with the idea of “well, this will do too”. If the enterprise is concerned about the price, let them bring it up.

You must focus on the quality of what you’re offering. On your expertise, your experience, proven results you’ve already had. Accept comparisons to your competitors; in fact, use them to showcase you are better!

Make the price a part of your pitch, but only as a last mention. Don’t emphasize it being “less” or “more” than might be expected because of this or that.

That’s your asking price because of the X, Y, Z arguments you’ve given so far, and that’s it. No need to explain it.

Picking Your Enterprise Sales Strategy

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There are a few sales methods which are more popular than others. Just drop us a quick message and we’ll teach you the ropes and trade secrets.

For example, you could become better at:

  • Solution selling: focusing on your lead’s problems and emphasizing that you’re selling the solution.
  • Value selling: outlining the quality of the product or service. It means leveraging the lead’s anticipation of benefitting from what you’re selling. 
  • SPIN selling: all about asking the lead the right questions, progressing in a SPIN order (Situation -> Problem -> Implication -> Need). You open with a situation question, then continue to one about a problem with that situation, etc.
  • Challenger selling: taking control of the conversation. Teaching the lead about an unknown opportunity, tailoring a solution and then controlling their sales experience.

Before you ask, no; there’s no single “best” selling method. You are the one doing the sale. You’re the greatest selling asset that you have. We each have our own styles of doing sales; our own methods of applying techniques that are proven to work.

Therefore, you have to pick a strategy which you can work with. A strategy that “speaks” to you and helps your efforts. Just because one type of selling works for a colleague or a successful salesman, it doesn’t mean it’s going to fit you too.

Calculating Your Revenue Opportunities

Depending on what you’re selling, you have a “total addressable market” (TAM). In other words, all the revenue opportunities that you can exploit. 

TAM gives you an idea of how well you’ll be able to sell on a given market, and how much you’ll earn.

In this case, you’d calculate the likelihood of an enterprise sale. You can choose any approach out of these 3:

1. Top-down TAM

This approach means using industry research. See how well others have done selling a similar product or service. Of course, the data could not be very recent, or perfectly reflect exactly what you’re selling.

Top-down should reflect your chance of selling.

2. Bottom-up TAM

This takes into account how well you’ve sold so far, and at what price. In this case:

TAM = number of customers * annual contract value

Annual contract value = Current customers * average sales

Bottom-up should reflect at what price you could sell.

3. Value theory TAM

While the first 2 methods are mathematical and statistical, this is a human approach. Value theory reflects how much leads are willing to pay for your services/products. 

In other words, it doesn’t matter what the market price is. What matters is only how much you can safely ask for.

For example, if a lead can’t wait to get their hands on your solution, you can push a higher price than you normally would.

Be careful though, as asking for too much can quickly make leads lose interest. Value theory is an enterprise sales process all about finding the right people to whom you can sell above the real market value.

3 Rules For an Enterprise Sales Cycle

1. Understand the Industry

It’s pointless to try and sell to an industry which you don’t understand. Do your research before reaching out to prospects. 

Search informational content from established players in the market. Subscribe to newsletters about trends and emerging technologies.

You have to be on top of what’s happening, so that you can better present why your solution is a good fit for the industry.

Another point of interest can be your prospect’s competitors. What are they doing better? Show that your prospect can also reach that level by using your solutions.

2. Respect the Sales Funnel

Prospects have to go through a whole journey to become a customer. You can’t just skip steps. At every turn, they have specific needs and expectations. Meet them accordingly; don’t push what’s not requested. 

Move organically and as needed from email, to video conferencing, to face-to-face meetings. In many ways, you’re also the consultant of your enterprise leads. 

You must show them how their business would be better if they just sign the contract. You must be their guide on the path towards conversion.

3. Know Your Team

Each sales agent has their own personality. If you don’t think you’re the best fit to sell to an enterprise because of interpersonal or expertise reasons, just leave it to someone else.

Each salesperson should play to their strengths. The more a sales representative aligns with the values and culture of an enterprise, the easier the sales process will be.

Additionally, a sales representative that’s liked by stakeholders will also be able to establish your business as an industry and thought leader! Remember, sales are intrinsically tied to relationships.

Key Points to Remember

  • Enterprise sales are a practice governed by lengthy timeframes and interpersonal relationships with stakeholders.
  • Process and procedures are important, but the flair and social skills of the salesperson is the ultimate factor.
  • You won’t always sell the same. As you gain more experience, you’ll iterate on your strategy and improve it.

However, why spend all that time and effort on getting better at selling? Jumpstart your enterprise sales with our help. At X27, we’re expert B2B salespeople and marketers. 

About The Author

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Alex Berman is the founder and chief content creator of X27 Marketing. He is passionate about promoting efficient B2B lead generation channels and executing on data-driven strategies for his clients.