Enterprise sales can be incredibly lucrative. Even a single closed deal can often exceed six or even seven figures, making it a field many B2B companies aspire to break into.
However, while the rewards are certainly enticing, enterprise sales can be tough to succeed in. Without the right experience, connections, and a bold willingness to take risks, breaking through to the key decision-makers in a company and getting even a single sale can be an uphill battle.
But how can you flip the odds in your favor and start closing more enterprise deals? And how is enterprise sales different from selling to smaller companies?
How Are Enterprise Sales Different?
Someone with less experience in sales might not be exactly sure why sales have to be separated into different categories. After all, whether you’re selling to an SMB or a large enterprise, you are essentially offering a solution to a critical problem the company is facing.
Well, as those with experience in working with enterprise clients will attest, these sales types can be worlds apart.
Here are just a few of the key characteristics that distinguish enterprise sales from all others.
Working in SaaS sales is a fast-paced and fun process. Because of the short sales cycle, you get to go through many clients in a short timeframe, quickly guiding them through the main talking points of your product and moving on to the next lead you can work with.
And in many ways, that reduces the risk of failure. Even if something goes wrong, you will always have dozens of new leads lined up and ready to listen to your pitch.
Meanwhile, in enterprise sales, you can often spend a lot of time and a considerable amount of effort working with a single prospective client. You may need to talk to multiple people, perform painstaking research, and really dig deep into how you can customize a solution that fits the client’s needs. And then, they may decide that you’re not a good fit and walk away, making all that effort you put in go to waste.
In enterprise sales, these are the risks you have to accept. Sometimes a deal will fall through because of reasons that are beyond your control. And that’s a risk you have to accept when dealing with high-end clients.
Another key difference between regular and enterprise sales is the number of people you have to talk to. When working in enterprise sales, you will often have to deal with more than a handful of people throughout the sales process, each having their own opinion and their agenda, which can influence whether you will win or lose their deal..
As a salesperson, you need to be capable of using enterprise sales techniques that allow you to navigate multiple stakeholders, build relationships quickly, and get the most important people on your side so that they can shift the perspective within the company you are targeting.
And even though there are techniques you can use to sell to multiple stakeholders at once, it mostly comes down to experience and…luck. As you get closer to the sale, there’s always the risk of everything falling through since new decision-makers can come into play and can erase all the progress you’ve made up to that point.
There’s a reason why another name for enterprise sales is complex sales. The complexity of the process is built into the very core of how sales are made to large clients, which you have to be prepared for if you are going to have any chance of making sales consistently.
Enterprise sales involve a lengthy and complicated process that is very labor-intensive. You will have to perform research, learn how to read and influence people at different points of the sales process, quickly identify the pain points that generate a response and find ways to make your proposition appealing with different (and sometimes conflicting) agendas.
Even though the fundamental purpose of the sale is to solve a problem for the company, stakeholders will have their own smaller goals and agendas as well, and only by making them aligned can you expect success. And that’s not easy, even for the most experienced salespeople in the field.
A Long Sales Cycle
Finally, when dealing with enterprise sales, you have to be prepared to commit for the long haul. Short sales cycles are an exception rather than the rule, so if you want to thrive in enterprise sales, you must have a process for handling sales over a period as long as six months or even a year.
The good news is that when you do close enterprise clients, they will likely stay with you for a long time as well. At least, if you deliver on your promises and they end up fully implementing your solution into your workflows.
So, while there are certainly challenges, the lucrative financial opportunities make the time commitment that enterprise sales require worth it.
Essential Enterprise Sales Techniques
Even though enterprise sales can be complicated, the good news is that you can take steps to maximize your chances of success.
By spending an adequate amount of time preparing for the sales process and implementing a few essential enterprise sales techniques, you can get ahead of most challenges you will face and present yourself as a professional services provider that enterprise-level clients will take seriously.
Let’s look at five powerful enterprise sales techniques you could implement below.
Know Your Product
During the sales process, you will have to answer countless questions to dozens of people. And that will only be possible if you truly know the product you’re selling by heart and can quickly and simply describe it to almost anyone.
What’s more, you need to highlight different aspects of your solution based on the client’s needs and priorities. Sometimes, it might even seem like you’re selling two completely different solutions, even if the actual product you’re delivering is the same.
You also need to be confident that your product can deliver on its promises and adapt to the clients’ unique needs. It needs to be easy to scale, customize, and implement, at least as much as that can be possible at the scale that enterprise clients operate in.
Finally, you must make sure that your product actually solves a core problem that enterprise companies are facing. You can talk about your product all day long, but in the end, the core features are what will close the sale above all else.
Identify the Right Prospects
The only way to meet customer expectations is to solve a problem they are facing. If you fail to deliver on your promises, no company, no matter how big or small, will stay with you for long.
But in enterprise sales, it’s equally important to identify the right prospects to begin with. Because of the long sales cycles, you can potentially waste many months with a prospective client that ends up being a poor fit.
That’s why you should allocate plenty of time to researching each prospective client you are considering. You need to understand their situation better than they do themselves, identifying the key attributes that might make them a good or a bad fit.
You should have a detailed understanding of who your best clients are right now, what makes them unique, and the attributes you can use to identify them in future prospects.
There are enough things that can go wrong in enterprise sales as it is; the least you can do is reduce the number of deals that fall through because you didn’t do your homework.
Thoroughly Research Their Unique Situation
Even when you believe that a client is a good fit, that by no means guarantees that you will close the sale. Each client is different, and a big part of their decision will come down to whether you can address their unique needs in a way that satisfies the stakeholders.
Therefore, as you’re going through the sales cycle, you should perform continuous research of the client, collecting and analyzing each new bit of information and using it to develop a more personalized solution that’s tailor-made to each prospective client’s needs.
An additional benefit of thorough research is that the prospective client will see that you’re not just going to offer them a cookie-cutter solution. Knowing that you have taken the time to address their primary needs will make it much easier to say yes to your proposal, as they can then trust that you’ll be able to figure out and solve any issues that might arise in the future.
Identify the Key Stakeholders
The number of stakeholders has been a common theme throughout this article. And the main reason why is that dealing with multiple people is an unavoidable reality of enterprise sales.
But at the same time, you need to consider which stakeholders are more critical to the sale. As you work with a company, you need to figure out which stakeholders actually have the most influence over the company’s decisions and focus on getting them on your side as soon as possible.
There are actually types of stakeholders that you are likely to work with, each of them having their own goals and reasons why they care about whether your product ends up being chosen.
Often, even though one stakeholder has the ultimate power to say yes to your proposal, they will have to take into account the people they trust and the people who will use the solution daily. And that means you must have a strategy for convincing stakeholders from each group if you want to have a good chance of making the sale.
Ask for Feedback
The best way to improve your enterprise sales techniques is to gain experience and go through the sales process multiple times. But you can enhance the learning process by seeking out feedback that can help you learn things you didn’t notice yourself.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to establish a process for collecting feedback about your sales approach after the sale is made (or falls through). Then, even if you don’t land the client, you might at least gain valuable insights that will contribute to success in the future.
By asking for feedback, you’ll also develop stronger relationships with the company, which will help you stay on its radar in the future, when it might be looking into solutions like yours again.
Enterprise sales are both one of the hardest and one of the most lucrative fields you could enter. But while you can’t control every part of the sales process, using the right techniques can at least increase your chances of success.
If you get to know your product, figure out who to target, perform research, and ask for feedback, you can make gradual improvements that will slowly build a reliable sales process you can trust.