There are a LOT of resources about how to sell big, gnarly, long, difficult, enterprise deals. Just search B2B sales or enterprise sales on Amazon to see for yourself. But you have to read a lot of rubbish to get to the essential truths. I just came across this post by Jason Lemkin of EchoSign fame (and a smart guy who know a thing or two about sales), that cuts through the nonsense and gets to the guts of enterprise sales. Like he says, anyone can do enterprise sales, but it takes a massive heaping of hustle. This is definitely a great read.
If you haven’t done corporate/enterprise sales before, the biggest thing to understand: you can do it. But, you’re going to have to hustle. Really, really hustle.
Many web-focused professionals want the customers and leads and users to come to them. They want to focus then on the funnel, A/B testing, optimization, SEO, SEM, etc. etc.
That’s all great, and for self-service business, that’s most of it. But for enterprise sales, you’re going to have to get your arse out of your Aeron and go close some real live human beings:
- Listen, often in person. That may including flying somewhere. It may include flying a lot of places, in fact, that you don’t really want to go.
- Learn your prospects’ business processes in detail, and how your product enhances them. If this is boring to you, you will fail.
- Learn how your potential customers will excel in their companies through your product. How can you help the person buying your product’s career? It’s not just about your fabulous UI/UX.
- Make, or don’t make, commitments to future development and features to meet their needs. Your product will always be deficient in some fashion in the enterprise. Always and forever.
- You’re going to have to learn how to not take no for an answer, how to beg for a meeting, and how to ask for money and a check. This is really, really hard if you haven’t done this before.
- And internally, you are going to have to manage and hire sales people. Some will be great, some though won’t and will just take your money and will prove extremely expensive. You’re going to have to invest A LOT of time here. You can’t just hire some magic “VP of Sales” with 4 years of experience and have him/her scale the business. Instead, if you do that, you’ll actually end up with less sales than before.
Image credit: CC by Dave Gray