Selling to large corporations and enterprises means entering an extended buyer journey. The process is long, resource-intensive, and you’ll have to convince a handful of stakeholders before even getting close to a sale.
The good news: one enterprise sale could be worth a year or two of what you might be profiting from smaller businesses or individual consumers.
In this guide, we will be going through the basics of enterprise sales, how to prepare for such sales, and what steps you need to follow to score an enterprise deal.
Read along to learn about:
- What Is Enterprise Sales?
- Key Elements of Enterprise Sales
- Preparing for Enterprise Sales
- Four D’s of the Enterprise Sales Cycle
- 9+ Tips for a Successful Enterprise Sale
- Enterprise Sales FAQ
What Is Enterprise Sales?
Enterprise sales, or complex sales, are large-scale deals that typically involve corporate businesses. These deals take months or even years of ongoing communication until they’re finally closed, as they have a high revenue value and affect many stakeholders.
The sale of costly enterprise technology such as CRM solutions, security systems, building management software, are all forms of enterprise sales. That’s why complex sales are most common in Business-to-Business (B2B) environments. They could also be consumer-focused, such as deals made to purchase a house, but this is less common.
Transactional vs Enterprise Sales
There are two main types of sales models: transactional and enterprise sales.
Transactional sales refer to the everyday, straightforward selling of goods and services to individuals or small groups of people. These deals boil down to “you build, they buy.”
So, with transactional sales, your goal is to develop a solution for the greater market and work out ways to distribute that product or service, to the best-suited leads.
Examples of transactional sales include clothes, groceries, pharmaceuticals, and other low-value purchases.
Transactional sales usually have a short sales cycle of 60 days or less. They’re low-risk, low-cost, and involve few stakeholders.
Enterprise sales, on the other hand, are the complete opposite. They require great investments, months of negotiations, affect many stakeholders, and come at a higher risk. Instead of building a product and putting in marketing efforts to reach as many buyers as possible, you’re investing in custom solutions for individual, high-stake customers.
Key Elements of Enterprise Sales
An enterprise sale is marked by these four key factors:
1. Many Stakeholders
Closing an enterprise sale means convincing multiple stakeholders.
Say you’re selling a thousand-dollar wireless sensor for large corporations. In B2B sales, the authority responsible for such purchases is usually the chief technology officer.
However, to reach the chief technology officer, you’ll probably have to convince a series of other people below the C-Suite level first. So, in enterprise sales, you’ll have to go through 5 to 10 other people to finalize the sale, as opposed to one single interested buyer. Sometimes, you may not even get the chance to meet and give your sales pitch to these stakeholders.
In consumer sales situations, such as real-estate sales, stakeholders and decision-makers may include friends, family members, or roommates.
2. A request for proposal (RFP)
In enterprise sales, it’s typical for the customer to send out a request for a proposal (RFP). An RFP is a document that corporations send when they’re looking for a vendor or supplier to work with.
More specifically, an RFP will include their required project, the scope of services they expect to be accomplished, timeline, criteria, and other needs. Receiving an RFP means that you will be competing against other businesses in the industry, and the client will decide based on the most suitable RFP response.
3. A long sales cycle
Stakeholders risk losing thousands, even millions if they make a rushed decision. That’s why an enterprise sales process can last anywhere between six months to two years. This lengthy period gives the invested parties adequate time to understand the risks and advantages of what they’re buying. At the same time, when making an enterprise sale you’ll likely have to provide a customized solution tailored to your client’s needs, which takes up additional time.
4. High investment
Although there’s no exact definition of how much cash an enterprise sale costs, it will usually involve a high-priced purchase between $50,000 and an eight-figure amount.
So, an enterprise sale means more money = higher risk = a more complex buyer journey.
Preparing for Enterprise Sales
Enterprise sales aren’t right for every startup, and you should consider a few factors before getting into the enterprise market.
Make sure you have enough resources to support your enterprise team.
Enterprise clients are difficult to score, so it’s unlikely that you’ll be generating a major stream of revenue within the first 12-18+ months in the market. If you don’t have enough time, money, and other necessary resources to support your sales team for at least one year, reconsider entering the market.
2. Revenue Opportunity
Secondly, you have to make sure that there’s evidence of returns from what you’re marketing.
One way you can measure this growth potential is through a metric known as Total Addressable Market (TAM). TAM calculates the revenue opportunity available, or the market demand for your specific product or service.
There are three approaches to calculate your TAM:
- The top-down approach uses existing industry research and reports to identify opportunities.
- The bottom-up approach is based on previous sales and growth within your business. As a formula, it’s calculated as TAM = (Annual Contract Value) x (# of Possible Accounts).
- The value theory relies on how much your customers value your product or service and are willing to pay for it.
3. Enterprise Sales Team
It’s important that you hire leaders and sales representatives with an enterprise mindset. Look for sellers who have industry experience, previous success in sales, and are relationship-oriented, organized, confident, and optimistic.
Want to learn ways you can motivate and influence your sales team to perform at its possible best? Then, head over to our sales motivation guide.
Four D’s of the Enterprise Sales Cycle
The enterprise sales cycle can be broken down in many ways, but the basic enterprise sales funnel is composed of these four key steps:
In this first step, you gather the necessary information to develop a relationship with your client. Discovery means you have to research your prospect’s organization, discuss their needs and requirements, and get an overall picture of their issue and how you can address it.
Most of these insights are gained through dialogue. Here are some questions you should always ask:
- What steps do we need to take to close this deal?
- Who are the stakeholders involved in our sale?
- What actions do we need to take to get buy-in from each stakeholder?
Tip: Record the call or meeting, instead of taking detailed notes, so that you can focus more on the client and on building a genuine report.
After you’ve extensively researched and collected sufficient information about your prospect, you can proceed to diagnose their needs and problems.
What are your client’s core issues, and how can your product or service fix them? How exactly will you customize your services to their personalized solutions?
This is where you put together your experience and understanding of the client's problems and discuss alternative solutions. Because enterprise sales are complex, the design will likely be complicated and specifically tailored to their requests.
After months of hard work and contract building, you’ve come to the last stage of the sale - implementation.
After the client has accepted your offer, your team will deliver the promised solution and measure and track its effectiveness.
9+ Tips for a Successful Enterprise Sale
- Define your objectives clearly. Before jumping on a call with a big client, you need to have clearly defined objectives. Outline the end goals that you want to achieve and think about how you will measure progress. This will help you keep the conversation on track and anticipate the client's response.
- Create case studies to prove your value. Case studies help your prospect learn more about your product or service and better understand the value that you provide. If you already have experience under your belt, write about an enterprise customer you’ve already had. In case you don’t, choose an enterprise with a similar goal to the one you’re targeting.
- Follow up regularly. When it comes to enterprise sales, patience is a virtue. The sales cycle will likely last more than 6 months, many stakeholders will be involved, and you’ll have to convince a number of people. It’s important not to get discouraged, and follow up through phone calls, emails and set up meetings regularly to win over every decision-maker.
- Build a sales network. It’s important you communicate with customers through social media, partake in industry conferences, and join a committee to generate new prospects and raise your credibility.
- Research your ICP. A big part of lead management is researching for your ideal customer profile (ICP). Enterprise sales are already long and resource-intensive, so you don’t want to waste too much time investing in leads that won’t make it through the sales qualification process.
- Show that you’re a risk-averse business. Every corporation wants to minimize failure, so they’ll likely want to see what you’ve achieved with other enterprises. Keep a list of other enterprises in hand, and be prepared to talk about your previously achieved.
- Always be prepared. Before a presentation, workshop, pricing call, or meeting, request a full list of participants that will be present, as well as their job responsibilities and positions within the company. This will help you better navigate the room and make new connections.
- Be clear about your pricing. Communicate your pricing, and send out a sales quote detailing all of your pricing levels. Get insights on what they think about your pricing, and help them find the best deal for their needs.
- Map out your organization. Organize your sales staff into teams, divide their roles, and track their performance regularly.
- Automate your enterprise sales cycle with CRM software. We at Deskera offer an all-in-one Accounting, Payroll, and CRM software with enterprise-level features, for small business pricing. Get full visibility of your sales pipeline, set up email marketing strategies, schedule tasks, and fully configure your CRM through one intuitive software.
Enterprise Sales FAQ
#1. What’s the Difference Between SMB, SME, and Enterprises?
Small and medium-sized businesses will usually have less than 100 employees, and generate between $5 to $10 million in annual revenue. Small and medium-sized enterprises, or the mid-market, employ from 101 to 500 employees and generate anywhere between $10 million to $1 billion in revenue.
Lastly, large enterprises have over 1000 employees and earn over a billion worth in annual revenue.
#2. What Are Enterprise Customers?
An enterprise customer typically refers to the larger, more complex business customers, with high levels of annual revenue. Although there isn’t a standard, enterprises generally employ from $1,000 to $10,000 workers and generate around $25 to $100 million in annual revenue.
#3. What Does an Enterprise Salesperson Do?
Generally speaking, an enterprise sales representative is responsible for identifying sale opportunities and increasing profitability. Other responsibilities related to making these sales include: preparing proposals, presentations, sales tactics, communicating and meeting up with customers, issuing pricing and contracts, and more.
And that’s a wrap!
Here’s a recap of the main points we’ve covered:
- Enterprise sales are complex sales that involve many stakeholders, a high-revenue deal, and an extended sales cycle. When making an enterprise sale you’ll likely have to tailor your product to the client’s needs and preferences.
- Other sales, with lower value and risk, are known as transactional sales.
- Before switching to the enterprise market, make sure you have enough resources, a qualified enterprise sales team, and that there’s growth potential within the market.
- The basic enterprise sales funnel involves four key steps: discovery, diagnosis, design, and delivery.