Selling to large companies is a difficult proposition for most small businesses because of the complexity of most corporate structures.
The first thing you need to realise as a business is you cannot use the same approach of selling to small company to sell to large organisations. There are more obstacles to overcome because of vested interest in their status quo.
In a small to medium size business, when there is a problem, it quickly becomes obvious to everyone that the business is in trouble.
However, in large organisations, as a result of the layers of complexity and sometimes the numbers of staff, there are times when departments are totally oblivious to the problems of other departments until it becomes a full blown crisis.
Therefore, as a sales person trying to sell to such an organisation, you will need to take into account the individual dynamic of each and every department or division. Consequently, your solution has to either be global to cater for the entire organisation or specific local department or division.
This means that you need to be able to demonstrate that the problem your solution is designed to solve is either local or global for the entire company.
There are six layers of resistance you need to overcome when selling to a large organisation. Overcoming these layers of resistance will make the sales process easy. Ignore anyone at your own peril.
First layer of resistance
The first layer of resistance is an agreement on the definition of their core problem.
As a sales person selling for an organisation or for your own business, there is the tendency for you to enter a selling situation and start to talk about your solution. In most instances, businesses are convinced that their solution is the best thing that happened since the invention of slice bread.
This method of thinking is very common with innovators and technical businesses. A software developer might develop a software that he is convince is the solution to all the world’s problems.
In his mind, the moment he launches the software the entire world is going to be beating down his door to buy it. However, it is when the software is released that he discovers to his horror that no one wants it.
Instead of blaming the fact that he has this beautiful solution to no problem, he blames the market for being resistance to change. The reality is not that the market is resistance to change, but his software is not solving the core problem of the market.
In a way you will face similar situation when you try to sell to a large company. Because the organisation is so large, the problems they face might differ from one department or division to the next.
Secondly each department might perceive their problem to be the worst therefore requires urgent attention. Furthermore, each department might feel that it is the other department that has the problem that is contaminating their department.
Trying to reconcile the different position can be a difficult task. This is why the first step in your sales process to a large corporation is reaching a consensus on the core problem of the organisation.
The Second Layer of resistance
The second layer of resistance is the underlying assumptions that currently exist in the organisation. No individual approach any situation with a blank slate. We are all pre-framed as a result of knowledge and experience.
Therefore you need to address the assumptions in the organisation in order to agree with them on the direction of the solution.
The third layer of resistance
Once you have agreed on the direction of the solution it is now time for you to present your solution. I must caution you here. When I say present your solution I am not suggesting you tell them about your product or service.
Telling them how great your product or service is does not mean a thing to them. What you need to do at this stage is show them how your solution…product or service will solve their core problem.
There is a very important distinction I will like you to pay attention to. I will repeat this point again. Demonstrating the features and benefits of your solution is not the same as showing them how your solution will help them solve their core problem.
The forth layer of resistance
The forth layer of resistance of selling to a large organisation is: the negative side effect of your solution. Every medication has some type of side effect. Some are more pronounced than others and the impact of the side effect differ from person to person, however, the fact remains that there are side effects.
Consequently, do not expect the management team in the organisation to just agree with your solution and run away with it. Good managers will begin to think of the ramification of the installation of your solution on each department and the organisation as a whole.
Let’s say for example you are selling marketing to a dental practice. You are a sales and marketing organisation and you’ll like to increase patient flow for the dental practice.
Increasing patient flow also requires an increase in the amount of dentist, dental nurse or administrative staff they might require.
So even though a dental practice might require additional patients to remain profitable, the additional cost of hiring staff might appear at least to the organisation as eliminating their profit margin.
Firth layer of resistance
This transitions us to the fifth layer of resistance: the positive obstacle to implementing your solution. The positive obstacles are factors within the control of the client…Policies and procedures for example.
Negative obstacles are circumstances beyond the control of the customer or additional resources they might have to draw upon to implement your solutions. While positive obstacles are factors that are within their control.
The main objective of selling is to overcome resistance to change. The introduction of any new solution into an organisation will result in change. The predisposition of your customer to your sales message is largely dependent upon the magnitude of change that will occur as a result of the implementation of your solution.
The sixth layer of resistance
The sixth and final layer of resistance of selling to a large corporation is fear on the part of the particular individual you might be negotiating with. Years ago IBM slogan was no one ever got fired for buying from IBM.
Therefore, as a purchasing manager, you knew at the time that if you bought a device from IBM and the purchase went wrong, you are covered by virtue of the fact that you bought from what was considered the best organisations to buy from.
If you bought from a small unknown company and things went horribly wrong, you are most likely to lose your job.
So as you sit on the negotiation table with individuals in organisations, what each individual is thinking is: what will happen to my job if I support this purchase and it went wrong?
This is something that you also need to address.
To summarise: there are six layers of resistance for selling to a large organisation:
- The core problem of the organisation as a whole might be difficult to identify
- The consensus on the direction of the solutions might also be difficult to identify
- Doubt that your solution is the solution to their particular problem
- Negative obstacle to buying
- Positive obstacle to buying
- Fear that the purchase might go wrong
As a small business if you want to sell to a large organisation, you need to acknowledge these buying resistance and device strategies for overcoming them.
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