Enterprises sales involve a lot of communication between the sales representative and the prospect, which may result in a large-scale corporate solution. The typical sales cycles for corporate or enterprise sales may last for months, unlike regular transaction sales in which you purchase a product in a short time.
Consider the sale of mobile phones. The customer decides to buy the product, researches about it, goes to the relevant store or website, make the payment, and buys the phone. This is how a typical transactional sales work.
Whereas, in the case of enterprise sales, understanding the needs of the customer and the requirements is the primary thing. The sales representative will visit the customer to understand what are the exact requirements and start presenting solutions one by one. Then the customer will mention his specifications or modifications in the product, and then the discussion will proceed to negotiation terms. There will be a lot of negotiations from both ends, and it could last for months at a stretch, after which the customer may make a decision.
Typically, enterprise sales are differentiated by high risk, the involvement of multiple stakeholders, having an extended long says cycle which would last more than six months. It involves very high investment, and the sales deals are usually complex.
Since enterprise sales have high complexity, they have high risk also, and the sales rep should balance both the organizational needs as well as the client requirements. The transaction may take months or even years to materialize because the client considers many solutions and competitors.
Consider the purchase of medical equipment in a hospital. They are high-value machines and have multiple stages and involve many people in the decision-making process. The purchase manager may not be technically sound, and the end-users – that is doctors – are not a part of purchasing decisions.
The sales representative has to contact and convince the doctors on the technical aspects and then proceed to satisfy the purchase manager to discuss pricing. This lengthens the sales cycle. Sometimes even the management of the hospital also has a say in the decision-making process which pushes the sales cycle even further. These enterprise deals can months or even years before a decision is reached.
Importance of Enterprise sales
Many companies believe that enterprise sales are where the real money is. The contracts from enterprise sales can be huge money for your company even though the customer acquisition cost is very high, and the revenue pay of terms would be longer.
The primary objective of the enterprise sales model is to nurture the customer relationship, which indirectly means that you have a super long sales cycle as well as high-risk models.
The most crucial element in enterprises is the sales representative because he is the only one who can close the deal and win a substantial revenue for the organization. The enterprise sales deals are very high pressure but very high-paying contracts.
The nurturing that your sales team will provide will be instrumental. It is worth the investment and the time that you employ on the deal because if you can crack the contract, then there is very high profitability and returns from an organizational point of view.
Enterprise sales deals help to form a long-term relationship with your customers. They can always act as a reference point for your future sales deals.
The sales rep can sell multiple products under one roof, which not only fulfills his sales quota but also gets a high revenue for the organization.
Enterprise sales strategy
Since enterprise sales involve complexity, the sales representatives use a different approach to close the deals. The sales method is not usually stagnant, and the enterprise’s best practices have changed over time.
Sometimes the sales representatives may have to customize the selling strategy according to the customer. However, none of the guidelines of the company that they represent is to be broken to close the deal.
Following are few of the steps which are used commonly in enterprise sales:
1. Sales Presentation
The sales presentation is one of the essential things in enterprise sales. Usually, the orders of enterprise sales are massive in number or of very high-value products. Carrying that many products or that high-value equipment around are not humanly possible, which is why having a Kick-Ass sales presentation is a vital thing for engaging the customer.
The presentation should be as interactive as possible, and the sales representative should present it engagingly. Rather than having one-sided bombardment, the sales presentation should involve the customer and should turn out to be a two-way discussion.
The presentation should cover all the products or services that you offer irrespective of the need of the client. Sometimes it so happens that after seeing the presentation, the client may increase his demand for the additional products that you may have shown him in the presentation.
Conversing with clients is very important rather than meaningless talking. Both of them, although sound similar, are very different things.
Consider the situation when you are sitting with the customer informing about your products and taking leave. Now consider another case in which you are telling about the product to the customer and asking him relevant questions after every step to keep the discussion engaging.
It is expected that you go the second way rather than the first. Listen to the client, ask relevant questions, and discuss with him about your products as well as his needs. Customize solutions after understanding the pain points of the customer.
3. Process Analysis
Rather than being a salesman, in case of enterprise sales, the salesperson acts as a solution provider and a business adviser to his customer. You have to make the customer realize that you are here not just to sell your product but give him a solution for his needs and possibly help him.
It is expected that the enterprise salesperson acts as a business analyst who understands the client’s business and the processes and then provides relevant solutions to his needs. This will make the customer realize that you are not merely interested in inbox selling but very much concerned about the client and his needs.
As mentioned already, enterprise sales are the deals that take a long time to materialize. Meanwhile, it is expected of the sales representative to keep in touch with the client with regular follow-ups. The follow-ups should be in person or via digital media like email or phone calls or even a text message. The best of them would be a personal follow-up and a face-to-face interaction.
You have to give space to the client to think about your suggestions and his finances. Since there are multiple stakeholders involved in decision making, the decision will take time even if what you are providing is the best. Following up every day would seem annoyance to the client, but following up once in three months would be a massive gap during which the customer may change his mind or go for a competitive product.
The optimum time between follow-ups is essential to keep the client engagement as well as to check his buying cycle and if he has reached the decision-making stage.
While following up, you must follow up with all the stakeholders who are involved in decision making. It is also equally important that you have a consistent message for all of them throughout the transaction.
5. Closing the deal
Most of the enterprise sales deals lengthen because of the negotiation phase. It is essential to involve all the decision-makers instead of focusing only on the person who is in charge of the negotiation. There could be people who are relevant for discussing technical information about the product, and there could be people whom you have to convince regarding the finances. Once you satisfy the technical aspects of the product, then move on with the financial part where you convince and justify the price of the product.
Give relevant references of satisfied customers to help you close the deal faster. Do not commit something extraordinary, which you cannot give but rather give whatever you commit. Closed-ended questions like ‘what seems to be the problem to close the deal is it related to technical aspect or financial aspect?’ will help your client and bring him to a yes or no stage. Once you get the answer, you can work on that relevant part and try to close the deal.
The price negotiation would be dependent on the industry, the nature of the product, and the guidance of the company. If you have a relevant margin in your hand, you can give the discount and close the deal, but if there is something that you can offer in-kind rather than providing a discount, it would add value to the customer and help you to close the Enterprise sales deal faster.
Typical stages of Enterprise Sales
1. Discovery stage
This is the first stage in which the sales representative finds out about the business prospects and talks to them about their needs and requirements. He will validate the case by discussing it with the client and understanding his needs.
The representative asks relevant questions to the clients about his organization and the pain points along with his reasonable expectations. This will give the sales representative a clear picture of how he can approach to solve this problem by providing his offering. The best way to get this information is by asking the client directly.
Questions such as
What are the steps that we have to take so that we can close this deal?
Who are the decision-makers involved in this process?
Asking relevant questions will provide a virtual roadmap to the sales representative so that we can proceed to solve the problem. It is expected that the sales representatives invest a lot of time in the discovery stage so that he can set up the further sales process and strategize accordingly.
2. Diagnosis Stage
Although longer sales cycles are very challenging, they also provide an opportunity for the sales representative to conduct his thorough research so that he understands his client correctly. It will also help him to manage the buying cycle of the client. The better he understands the needs of the customer, the faster he can provide a solution to the client.
Once the discovery process is complete, then you proceed with a good idea to put in the minds of the client. Make sure that you understand the needs of the client correctly and first convince yourself that how your solution can help your client to fix his problem. Self-convincing initially is more important than assuring the client.
3. Design stage
This is the crucial stage in which you combine your knowledge with the needs of the customer and provide possible solutions to your client. This has to be done regularly, and a consultative approach is used rather than a selling approach. Sometimes the demands of the customer may be complicated for which you have to have customized solutions.
Designing a customized solution for the client will determine the effectiveness of the sales representative. There may be multiple options with your organization, but if the sales representative is not aware or could not present them to the client, then it’s of no use.
4. Delivery Stage
Once the client has accepted your proposal, then you can implement your suggestion. You have to ensure that all the things you committed during the discussion stage are delivered to the client.