SELLING DESIGN TO BIGGER COMPANIES
When you run a small firm, working with big or bigger companies appears very attractive. But selling design to bigger companies is NOT the same as selling to small owner managed ones.
We often think of big businesses as being organized, cash rich, having great systems, a strong design aesthetic and stuffed with the best and brightest decision makers. Pockets are deeper and they aren’t, most importantly, having to decide on paying you or taking a vacation this year.
We make assumptions that they wouldn’t want to work with a small firm or agency because they have their pick of the larger firms who are “full service“. As We Know full service more often than not means average at most things and exceptional at none.
The reality is the most big businesses are just like the rest of us; slightly dysfunctional with a veneer of respectability and sophistication. When you look at how big organizations grow, it is usually a combination of organic growth and by buying good ideas, products or services in the form of smaller companies. Take Nike for example, they have bought Hurley, Converse, Umbro and Virgin MEGA. Google’s list of acquisitions is so large, that in 2016 alone they bought 17 companies and 7 in 2017 so far!
What Does This Tell Us?
There is a lot of white space within big companies, they don’t have every base covered. Meaning that we can identify and sell to them in specific, niche areas: running digital campaigns on newer platforms like Snapchat or Anchor, creating kick-ass trade show booths or beautiful upscale catalogues, to name but a few.
Big Clients don’t have to be huge, in fact it’s best if they aren’t. Look around in your own backyard, there are always bigger businesses (or organisations) that need your help and expertise. Look for subsidiaries or divisions of corporations that are based locally, home grown big(ger) companies and companies looking to expand into your area. In the small city where I live we have a number of businesses with 200+ employees, willing to invest in their growth with good branding, design and an active online presence.
Find your Sweet Spot
What are you best at? Where you have done the best work for past clients; what were the results and how can you demonstrate it? This is what you need to know and more importantly demonstrate, to get your foot in the door. Case studies and specific testimonials make excellent selling tools!
The Down Side
A change in Marketing VP or CEO can mean an instant “Goodbye”. I have seen clients lose close to 7 figure corporate accounts almost overnight. A dropped product line or a division sold can terminate a flourishing account overnight through no fault of your own. So don’t have all your eggs in one basket. Never have a single client that is more that 25% of your business, ideally less. Have a cunning plan (risk mitigation) in place for what happens should you lose a big client. The best option is to have a thriving business development program that enables you to find new business quickly. It may take 3 or 4 new clients to replace a lost ‘biggie’, but, it keeps the firm stable, staff engaged and you paid.
Top Tips For Selling To Bigger Clients
- Know your corporate decision makers; they’re not the same as in a small business;
- Know and quantify how YOU can make a difference to their organization;
- Demonstrate your value proposition as tangible, measurable, relevant results;
- Research and target specific organizations;
- Look for trigger events that turn organisations into active and open buyers;
- Create a communication sequence specific to each opportunity;
- Develop relationships within target organizations;
- Go for the ‘small sale’ to get a foot in the door.
If you’d like to learn more about selling to bigger organisations join me for a free webinar on Tuesday 1st August at 11AM PST. You can find out more and register here