Some startups revel in serving a community of their peers, but for many the real growth opportunity lies in working with far larger organisations. For fledgling companies, this can be a daunting prospect. When we founded our event discovery platform, Line-Up, we recognised that corporate clients and tech startups speak different languages. Here’s our advice for startups trying to cosy up to giants:
Be clear about what you offer
Your product or service ultimately needs to either make or save money for a company. Your first job is to work out where you have the most impact and make this the focus of your pitch.
Speak to the right people
It is crucial to develop a relationship with the right individual at the organisation you’re trying to work with, both in terms of their function within the organisation and their position in the hierarchy. Trying to persuade the HR intern to buy a new accounting platform may not be in your best interests.
Cut the preamble and the backstory – your client does not need to know how you and your friends took the brave decision to quit your jobs to pursue your business. Quickly tell them that if they use you they will make a specific amount of money or save a specific number of hours. Speaking in their language, with empathy about their business challenges – not yours – is the best way to make an impression.
Don’t under-price yourself
Just because you are small doesn’t mean you should be cheap. Work out what you can save or make your target client, and price accordingly.
Empathise with the juggernauts
As a startup, you are used to things moving quickly. Bigger companies move slower and it can take far longer for a larger organisation to change direction. Any discussions you have are best done as early as possible. However, when big companies do decide that they want to move forward, they want to do so quickly, so be ready.
Beware of incumbents
For large companies, switching out suppliers isn’t a decision they’ll take lightly. The decision will go through numerous departments, will involve a lot of people and more often than not, you’re up against personal relationships that have been built up over years. Hone your message around improving on entrenched suppliers’ offerings.
Use your size in your favour
When dealing with big companies, there’s a tendency among startup folk to want to change who they are. Many forget that dealing with startups can be a breath of fresh air compared with more established businesses, especially if they deliver on time and on budget. Don’t try to project your company as larger than it really is – this won’t help in the long run.
Find a good lawyer
If you don’t have experience in negotiating commercial contracts, you can easily get pushed into a corner. If you have a lawyer you can trust, they will tell you what is normal and when potential customers are trying to push their luck.
Seek introductions and recommendations
If your product or service is well received, encourage your client to refer you to their equally large peers. If you are providing them with competitive advantage, a referral to a rival is unlikely, but in many cases clients are content to produce general testimonial statements – vital fodder for winning future business.
Source : theguardian.com
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