Don’t laugh at the suits

Posted by on Feb 1, 2013

So it would seem that enterprise startups are the new black. There’s been a lot of interweb discussion on this of late and I have to say I’m glad of the trend as much of my career has been spent getting medium and large companies to buy/partner with/promote technology products.

I count myself lucky that I am of an age and era where I have had the opportunity to work in enterprise sales for major corporations, but also had the chance to work in more than one startup. I do think that this blend of large company sales experience and startup creation gives some interesting perspective. I’m also lucky enough to have a few enterprise oriented startups coming across my path recently and I have had the chance to make some observations:
1. You know those suited big tech company sales people the hip young startups snigger at? They have forgotten more about how to sell software and services than you have ever known. These people are highly trained and operate in a competitive world. If you ever get the chance to talk to one then do it.

2. Enterprise sales takes time. It’s number 1 on your list of things to do, but its number 15 on theirs. Getting up the priority list takes time and effort. Make sure your product is in the priority camp.

3. Your competition is not just your feature equivalent. Its competition for time, attention, resources and budget from every other tech project your customer is considering

4. It is always a multi-person sale, even when someone tells you it isn’t. There are always multiple people involved in making decisions. Some you will know about and some you will not. Ask the right questions at the right stage of the relationship with your customer to find this out – it’s essential.

Ask questions and listen, listen, listen. Telling is not selling……