Making the jump from dealing with small businesses to marketing to large corporate clients can be tough. From the increased budgets and larger projects to the difficulty of getting an ‘in’ with corporate decision makers, jumping from small business to big business isn’t always easy.
However, with the right strategy, you can start marketing your business to large and lucrative corporate clients with ease. The five tips in this industrial marketing guide should form the backbone of your corporate marketing strategy – the ‘blueprints,’ if you like, of your entire marketing process.
Whether you’re targeting nationwide retailers or international corporations, the five marketing and sales tips in this guide are sure to be of assistance.
1. Develop a great sales funnel before you start.
When you’re selling a product or service to a small business or local distributor, you often only need to make one person say ‘yes’ before the sale is made. This is usually a purchasing manager or, in the case of very small businesses, the company CEO.
With a corporate account, however, you may need to hear ‘yes’ from several people before the sale is made. Big contracts often run through a marketing department, a purchasing manager, a regional director, and the company’s CEO or president.
Because of this, your sales funnel needs to be highly optimized and built to reach all of the right people. Before you start marketing your business, spend some time on your sales funnel and optimize it for the long and slow corporate sales process.
2. Be overprepared – you’ll need to be.
Big corporations like to work with other big corporations. Why? Because the bigger a company is, the more likely it is to have prepared for the contract it’s about to take on.
Among corporate purchasing managers, small companies often have a reputation as being inflexible and difficult to work with. In some cases, looking ‘too small’ can hurt you and prevent you from getting the projects and contracts you’d like to work on.
Fight back against the stigma of being a small or medium-sized company by being as prepared as possible. Develop great proposals, brochures, informational documents and contracts – every piece of sales material can make a significant difference.
3. Focus on generating leads, not instant sales.
Large clients take significantly longer to sign on than small ones. After all, the scale of the contracts they’ll be signing on for is significantly larger and the sheer number of people involved can often slow down the process.
Because of this, you shouldn’t judge your success in corporate B2B sales by the total number of sales you close in a certain month or quarter. Instead, focus on getting as many leads as possible and track your sales on a much longer-term timeline.
Rarely will a large B2B account discover your business, negotiate, and purchase the product or service you offer in a week or less. Focus on the long sale and track your short-term progress in terms of leads generated, not necessarily sales closed.
4. Be prepared for a long, slow sales process.
B2B sales isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. Because key decisions often are often made by several people within a large corporation, moving forward with a project can be a slow and tiring process for industrial businesses accustomed to quick sales.
Completing the B2B sales process online isn’t always possible. While many clients will be responsive to emails and Skype conferences, some large corporations push for in-person meetings in order to assess your suitability for their business.
From beginning to end, the process of finding and closing a new account can take several months. Be prepared for a long and slow sales process, and don’t panic if some of your leads back out after months – it isn’t abnormal.
5. Build from one corporate client to the next
Making the leap from small businesses to large corporations is difficult, but going from small business to medium-sized business is much less challenging. Think of each corporate client as a stepping stone allowing you to access even bigger sales opportunities in the future.
After every corporate sale, get references and testimonials from your contacts at your new account, and use them in your future sales pitches. The social proof of a large client or customer account is immense, especially when you’re marketing to other companies within their industry.