Buying and selling is the key to business. Buying is easy, if you hold the purse strings – selling, on the other hand, is more difficult. Selling is a broad term that is often used in business dealings. In this instance, however, I am couching my definition within the rubric of effectively pitching your business to larger companies. I have written before about effectively selling yourself, but to take the notion of sales a step further I want to outline tools for selling to large companies.
In order to effectively sell, you have to know your buyer or more than likely, your collection of buyers when working with a large, global company. Intuitively this may make sense, however you must be keen to focus on who the buyer is before you can effectively sell to them. Who is the company? What are their core strengths and weakness? How does the company perceive themselves? How do competitors view them? How do customers view them? These are not easy questions to answer. But, as an effective salesperson it is your responsibility to get to the crux of these questions as the answers will guide you in effectively pitching to them.
First, it is important to understand the company and how it operates? Are they silo’ed or are there strong cross functional practices? Are some business units more respected than others? This information may not be in the public domain but it is your responsibility to do your due diligence to find out. Do you have contacts in the company who can guide you? Do you have relationships with former employees? Are their individuals on sites like LinkedIn that can be useful in your search?
The internet is a very useful tool in helping paint a picture of the company you are targeting. In my business we do extensive online research in advance of a pitch. Google is a limitless source of information and past market data is always a helpful guide. Although in 2010 no one needs a tutorial on Google 101, your queries should be initially be broad but once you’ve honed in on an issue you want to discuss in your sales pitch – don’t hesitate to do very specific searches with specific key words – you’ll be surprised at how much relevant information you’ll find! View multiple pages back on stories about the company. In order to do an exhaustive search, the first 3 listed articles sites will just not do.
In your search, it is important to ascertain the internal and external perceptions of the company. Most companies are aware of what the outside world is saying about them and those perceptions are often your client’s most obvious hot buttons. Also, try to find out the company’s lingo and buzz words, incorporating them selectively into your presentation to demonstrate your understanding of their environment. The key is to let them know that you can effectively apply and leverage your added value “in their context”.
While you may never get to all the answers you seek, you want to arm yourself with as much information about the company as possible. Be assured, your inner detective work will pay dividends when you are actually in the room.