Don’t panic. We will return to normalish, at some point.
We will start selling at some reasonable rate again, soonish.
Budgets will be back in place and buyers will need things, in a little whileish.
When all this happens, you may easily forget the lessons of this panic/pandemic.
One of these lessons I believe is that big customers are good.
Big fish have big wallets
One reason you may forget this lesson is because big customers are not easy to win. You may go back to what is easy. Selling to enterprise accounts needs to be a habit, like eating well or working out, you need to make it part of your DNA. If you don’t make this a habit you may just keep snapping up the small fry that come to you more easily.
I showed in my last blog post that the big guys have the money. When you don’t have them as your clients, you are swimming in a pool of little money. How well can you do when there is a hard ceiling on what your clients can pay?
Do you care enough?
You are going to have to put in a lot of effort to land an enterprise account. It will not be like falling off a log. You will have to try a bunch of approaches and repeat some of them many times. This is hours of work, not minutes. Many of your efforts will seem to fail. It can be frustrating. Are you willing?
You may easily say “yes” but if I look at real sales people’s actions over the course of a couple of decades, I see that their actions say “no”.
They “touch” an enterprise account in the same way as a 100-person company. They email contacts a couple of times, maybe even call a few people and leave voice mails, then they move on to the next account. Enough effort to land this barracuda? Nope.
If you are going to put in hours of effort to break into this account, it better have a chance of becoming a “dream client”. Some items to consider on the dream client checklist:
- Does this account look like current clients you have that spend well with you and are easy to work with?
- Has your product or service worked well for this type of client in the past, giving them good ROI and you a good case study?
- Do you have any tips, maybe from a coach, that something is up in that account that may make them a good fit for you? Or some info on their industry that makes that industry a good fit?
- Do you have good “social proximity” to this account that may make it easier to land?
Developing your ESP
There are many ways to get into a big account. Combining a few ways is most likely what it will take to succeed. Getting in is not easy, but the payoff can career and company-changing.
Here are some approaches you can try to land that all-so-important initial meeting at an enterprise account.
- Referrals from your clients and network: In all my years of selling the one thing that I have found makes the biggest difference is having a relationship. From a relationship you can get a referral. Referrals get you in multiple times more easily than when you are an “outsider”. You can get these referrals from people who are not your clients. They can be your aunt or plumber. It still works.
- Social proximity connections: A variant on getting referrals is approaching someone that shares a common background with you. For me, this is people that went to my business school. For you it could be you went to the same college, are both on the Parent-Teacher Association, or play golf together. Using this common background can get you in way more easily than being a “stranger”.
- Creative mailings, cartoons, swords: There’s plenty of evidence out there to say “multidimensional” mailings can work. They can get expensive but if you know this could be a dream account that cost will be tiny in comparison to the payoff. Take a look at Stu Heinecke’s books on this. He is cartoonist and sends cartoons to his prospects but our mutual friend Dan Waldschmidt sends swords!
- Old-fashioned letters and handwritten notes: I have never sent anyone a sword but I have had a lot of luck with the mighty pen. Going retro and sending people old-fashioned “boring” letters without any marketing glitz has worked well. Handwritten notes on personal stationary have been even better. Who gets these anymore? People notice them and they are so human.
- Social media connecting: This one works best with people who hang out a lot on social media, like sales and marketing consultants. A little flattery can go pretty far. If you want to get to someone that loves to post on social media, commenting consistently over time on their content can get you a real meeting.
- Volunteering: Volunteering can make you an insider with a group of people that could become your dream clients. Tim Ferriss tells the story of how he arrived in Silicon Valley with no contacts at all and volunteered to help at the Silicon Valley Association. He ended up forming many relationships from his work there and those insiders referred him to other insiders until he was super-connected.
- Conference commandoing: Keith Ferrazzi has a great chapter in his book “Never Eat Alone” about how to make conferences uber-effective. If you need to get into a big account, you may well be able to bump into some key execs at a conference (when they exist again.)