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Article 8 min read

A quick guide to enterprise sales (+ 4 tips to supercharge your strategy)

Get ready to take your enterprise sales to the next level.

By Emily Miels, Contributing Writer

Last updated November 2, 2021

Enterprise sales is like running a marathon. Your focus isn’t on short-term wins – you’re playing the long game. And just as a marathon results in big physical and mental gains, enterprise sales results in significant revenue and increased opportunities for your business. That being said, you wouldn’t run a marathon without training first. You shouldn’t jump into enterprise sales unprepared, either. To be successful, you need to understand what enterprise sales is, why it’s important and how to close these deals.

What is enterprise sales?

Enterprise sales is the process of procuring high-value deals with large companies. Also called complex sales, enterprise sales is just that – complex. It typically has a big business impact, includes a long sales cycle, involves multiple stakeholders or comes with more technical aspects. “Enterprise sales is the process of navigating the [prospective company]’s people and processes in order to figure out where your product fits in and how to make it successful” says Coordinate CEO Rick Morrison. Reps go beyond specific features and work with enterprise leads on long-term outcomes, customising the product to meet their needs. “Most large companies and deals are never won straightforwardly on the basis of your product’s features and functionalities” says Krati Seth, Associate Director of Sales Enablement at Whatfix. Generally, enterprise sales follows four key stages:

  1. Discovery. Begin by gathering information about the prospect, their pain points and existing gaps, via meetings and research.
  2. Diagnosis. Once you understand the prospect’s problems and pain points, you can work with your team to determine the best possible solution.
  3. Development. Work with the customer to tailor your proposed solution to their large-scale business needs. You might include additional enterprise-level security measures or specialised coding in your offer.
  4. Delivery. This is the stage where you implement the solution and close the deal.

Enterprise sales is the opposite of small- and medium-sized businesses (or SMB) sales or mid-market sales. These deals are usually more straightforward because they don’t involve as many decision-makers and aren’t as customised. As a result, implementation is easier.

Why you should pursue enterprise selling

Enterprise sales is essential as you look to grow and expand into different markets. Building these relationships with large companies can result in significant ongoing revenue and business opportunities that help you thrive.

  • Increase revenue

    While SMB sales do generate revenue, enterprise sales allows businesses to reach their revenue goals with fewer deals. Just one enterprise sale could result in more revenue than multiple SMB sales. Once the deal is in the works, there’s even more sales potential. Enterprise companies are often focused on long-term relationships, so you’re already laying the groundwork for future sales. Perhaps you worked on a multi-million dollar deal that took more than a year to implement. During that time, you built a rapport with the company, so they continue working with your brand and refer you to other enterprise-level businesses.
  • Build credibility

    Say you’re deciding between purchasing from two relatively new tech companies. One boasts a really interesting case study with a reputable company and features logos from a few major brands on their website. The other has a list of previous clients but none that you’ve heard of. Which company are you more likely to purchase from? Chances are, name recognition will pique your interest and win you over in the end. Zendesk works with large enterprise brands across industries and features them on its website. Large-scale customers can immediately provide some recognition and clout for your company. People like to emulate successful mega-companies by working with their vendors and partners. So if you can secure a testimonial or referral from an enterprise business, you’re likely to attract more large-scale accounts. This reputation-building is helpful, especially if your business is still in its early stages. Even something as simple as a recognisable logo on your website can open a lot of doors.

4 tips to supercharge your enterprise sales strategy

Enterprise sales isn’t easy. It involves a lengthy sales process that puts a lot of time, resources and money on the line. Planning and communication are key to success.

  1. Identify your target enterprise customer

    Having a clear picture of your ideal buyer is essential with enterprise selling. These deals require a significant amount of time and effort from both your team and your prospective clients, so you want a clear customer persona to gauge whether prospects are the right fit. Start by making a list of your offerings and identifying their benefits for enterprise-level companies. Once you have a deep understanding of what you’re selling, you can match that to exactly who you’re selling to. Create buyer personas and develop an ideal customer profile based on those previously described benefits and scenarios. These profiles should be detailed and backed by data and research. Use tools like Google Analytics to hone in on factors like business size, revenue, geographic location and more. From there, focus on prioritising leads and companies that align with your target customer details. As leads come in, you can conduct preliminary research and then ask questions during the initial sales conversations that help you figure out whether they’re a good fit according to your personas.
  2. Create a structured process for your sales team

    Based on your ideal customer profile, you should have a list of enterprise-level businesses you want to target. Distribute these prospects evenly among the team, so each sales rep knows who they should prioritise. Delegating keeps workloads consistent and helps create a sense of accountability among the team. You should also set clear guidelines and responsibilities at each stage of the sales process. You may have a template for sales reps to use when they’re initially reaching out or submitting proposals. Or, you may have instructions on how often your team should follow up with prospects or when to discuss pricing. You may also want to dictate which internal stakeholders should be involved in meetings or looped in on communication throughout the process. When everyone knows what to expect at every touchpoint and what they’re responsible for, there’s less chance of confusion and misunderstandings.
  3. Know the key players

    Identifying key stakeholders at enterprise companies should take place near the start of the sales process. Do your research during the discovery phase, using tools like LinkedIn and company employee pages to pinpoint which people are critical to a smooth sale. Once the sales process begins, you can also ask your main point of contact to identify the decision-makers for this purchase. Take notes on who’s who in the company and what their primary responsibilities are. A sales CRM is a great way to document this type of information (but more on that later). You should also try and find your “champions” – the stakeholders who are consistently engaged with you and seem excited about adopting your product or service. These people can advocate for your brand when other stakeholders may be on the fence and keep the deal moving forward.
  4. Communicate clearly and consistently

    Enterprise sales can take months to finalise, sometimes even more than a year. Keeping your company top of mind during the lengthy process is essential. As you wrap up each interaction, establish the next steps and set clear expectations as to when and how you’ll follow up. If the prospect needs to meet with their team internally to discuss, you might say something like “I’ll check back in two weeks after you’ve had that meeting”. And then, of course, actually follow up when you say you will. To simplify ongoing communication, one thing you should do early on in the sales process is ask prospects for their preferred communication method. Some may prefer email, while others may prefer a joint Slack channel or text messages. Your communication with potential customers should always steer away from being overly sales-focused. Remember, it’s about long-term solutions and relationship building. Do your best to treat buyers like friends or colleagues rather than sales prospects. One of the best ways to build a rapport is to get to know your potential customers on a more personal level. Talk about kids, hobbies, holidays — topics that are fun and aren’t work-related. Maybe a prospect mentioned they were taking a family trip to Alton Towers for the first time. You could share your best tips or ask them about the holiday on the next call. Those friendly interactions help to establish trust.

Use a CRM to keep enterprise sales moving forward

If you’re diving into the world of enterprise sales, the right tools are crucial to success – there’s typically a lengthy sales cycle, multiple decision-makers and a lot of moving pieces. Platforms like customer relationship management (CRM) software can help you keep everything on track. With a sales CRM such as Zendesk Sell, you can keep all customer information organised and accessible to everyone on your team. By tracking and analysing the data effectively, you’ll be able to identify more valuable leads and continue nurturing enterprise deals throughout the longer sales cycle.

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