For small businesses starting out, getting orders or contracts can be the most difficult and stressful part of the enterprise. Sitting, waiting for the phone to ring, constantly hitting Send / Receive to see if you’ve received an email order or making yet another unsuccessful cold call can be soul destroying for anyone, but when you need the money to keep your fledgling enterprise afloat it can also mean the difference between being in business or not!
As a small business, getting a contract or an order from a large, recognised Company can sometimes be seen as the ‘Pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow’. Big Businesses normally mean big orders and big orders normally equates to a healthy profit and if it’s a contract with an ongoing need or demand then you could be forgiven for thinking you can sit back and watch the money roll in.
But is it really as simple as that?
Have a look at our 3 Quick Tips for dealing with Large Companies:
Who are You?
Getting noticed in the first place is always going to be the most challenging aspect for any small business and often requires a concerted, planned and methodical approach. Large Companies will have smaller businesses contacting them daily to try and sell their wares or services and standing out can mean the difference between having success or not.
Having a standing or reputation within your own Industry can make a huge difference. Writing good blog posts for your own or other websites or Authorative Journals in your industry will help you build a following and help you establish a reputation as a trusted informative ‘Voice’ that others trust and more importantly want to hear what you have to say. Attending Industry Events, hopefully as an invited speaker but as an attendee if not will enable you to network and chat to other companies and businesses and find out what is going on and what’s of interest currently.
Getting noticed and successfully dealing with big businesses is a long term strategy and should be treated as such with a long term, patient and planned approach. Don’t expect to pick up the phone, make an appointment, get an order and live happily ever after – it’s not going to happen!
Getting yourself or your products in front of big companies is the biggest and first challenge you’re going to face. Conventional wisdom is to identify the ‘Decision Maker’ in the business and target them but there are other approaches that may be more fruitful.
Identifying individuals who understand your idea or your USP (Unique Selling Point) and are supportive of it is key. Try & focus attention on an aspect of your product or service that may resonate with others, it might be an environmental angle, employing unemployed individuals or anything that may stir the passion or enthusiasm in others that drove you to start in the first place. An ‘Internal Champion’ can help you identify the processes you need to go through and should be able to assist you along the way with help, assistance and advice.
Big Business, Slow Decision Making!
The inflexible nature of big business can make for a challenging environment even if they are interested in you or your products. Decisions can take time and because of the potential for different needs, wants and desires when so many individuals or departments are involved, it requires a degree of flexibility on your side also.
It’s important to stress that a plan is simply the start of the journey and may need to be tweaked or adjusted along the way so that obstacles or difficulties can be overcome. It can be impossible to predict what these may be, they could be unique to a particular company or individual or could be the result of a set of circumstances totally unforeseen.
Too often big business will have a ‘all or nothing’ type approach, if you are lucky enough to work with them and it doesn’t work out initially for whatever reason it can be a tough job convincing them to do it again differently. It’s vital to address the fact before you start and not after the initial test, you may even want to refer to the initial launch as a ‘Pilot Scheme’ or ‘Test Period’ to avoid any hint of a permanent, ‘set in stone’ type of approach.
We hope this helps you plan and organise your own approach if you are considering working with or alongside bigger businesses than your own. It requires diligence, skill and above all patience but the rewards can be huge if you are successful and manage it correctly.