As a startup, it can be really difficult to sell into large companies. But these bigger partnerships can be your bread and butter, and help you scale your startup. From the enterprise company’s perspective, partnering with startups often allow them to stay nimble and innovate on a level that would otherwise be nearly impossible. On the reverse side, enterprises have to consider how hard it will be to implement any product or solution into their systems and deal with internal adversity to change.
One of the first things to think about is whether or not your startup is prepared to partner with an enterprise. We recently wrote an article on how to know if you are “cable scale”, so be sure to check that out first. But if you are ready to start working with the big guys, here are a few tips to help you along.
Get Past the Gatekeeper
One of the hardest things to do as a startup (or anyone, really) is getting past the gatekeeper who is blocking your way to the decision makers. But there are ways to make this person an ally. As Cheryl Conner wrote in a Forbes article a couple years back, treating gatekeepers like gold can not only get you to the right person, but also make them a valuable resource for information. Treat the gatekeeper with respect and understand their position. They may eventually let you through!
Another way to get past the gatekeeper is taking a different route altogether. UpRamp can offer many ways for startups to gain access directly to the decision makers in the global cable and broadband industry. With our Fiterator, Innovation Showcase, and Technology Tours, we put startups in touch with the right people to begin with. And if you think your product isn’t a good fit for the cable industry, think again, because is probably is.
Know Your Value
A good partnership should be win/win for both parties. But it may be hard as a startup to understand the “big company lens” that enterprises have. All companies have challenges but the challenges for an enterprise is likely going to be much different than that of a small company.
Help the enterprise understand what you have to offer over another company with a similar solution. What can you do better than a bigger company that has more clout? Can you save them time? Add more value for their customers? Save them money?
Enterprises care about solutions, not products. So you have to be able to prove your product solves a challenge for them. Talk about the bottom line, and be specific about what you can do. Does your solution help reduce supply chain costs, or help them get into a new market (that through research you already know they are targeting)? Great – lead with that!
Let Them See Under the Hood
But not before you show the value of your solution. One thing many of our successful startups do at our events like the Innovations Showcase is show value, then geek out. Many of the decision-makers attending an event like the Innovation Showcase or Technology Tour are also interested in how the technology works, because they want to make sure it is a fit into their systems before they approach a potential partnership.
Enterprise executives don’t have a lot of time. Don’t give them an hour long presentation that doesn’t address their challenges and doesn’t show them how your system works. They want to know quickly what you can do for them, how it works, and how hard (or easy!) it will be to implement.
It can be a bit intimidating to try to sell into enterprise companies. But remember – enterprise executives are people too – they might just use a different lens than you. Want more tips like this? Sign up for the UpRamp newsletter below.