August 21, 2009 in ATDC News

Selling to Big Companies

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One of the question I am often asked is how a small startup can sell to a big company. Atlanta is filled with great corporations including Turner, Coca Cola, Home Depot, Delta, Rubbermaid, UPS and on and on. Surely they would be a great customer base for my startup.

The reality is that is very difficult indeed. Here are some of the bigger problems you will need to overcome: Large companies like to buy from other large companies. Large companies have a long sales cycle. Large companies will expect you to jump through all kinds of hoops to qualify as a vendor. One reason this is true is that purchasing decisions are no longer made by buyers. They are made by committees of people, most of whom you will never get to see. And any one of them can veto the decision to buy from your company.

Sounds a bit impossible, doesn’t it? It can be daunting, but it can be done if you’re patient enough. Here are some tips. (1) Don’t try to make your first sale at a big company. You want to have some validation and references before you approach the big guys. (2) Don’t sell anything mission critical. This is usually a non-starter for a small company to win at a big company. Just don’t go there. (3) Spend the time to really get to know the company. Find a neighbor or somene at your Church or softball league who works there and use them to start networking. BTW, do you know who all your neighbors work for? (4) Find a severe pain point that you can solve quickly. Make it easy to buy a solution from you. And (5) stay focused and make sure you follow though on any promises you make.

Want to talk more, book office hours with me and we can go into more details.

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