While working with a client recently we got into a discussion about selling to really big accounts – like a Fortune 500 type of account. The focus of the discussion was about the differences in the mindsets of the large corporate type accounts versus the smaller regional or local business account (more likely to be an Entrepreneurial Type of Account).
Basically their are two types of mindsets – the Corporate Mindset and the Entrepreneur Mindset. These two mindsets are polar opposites when it comes to most priorities.
Yet, there is one significant factor regarding the Corporate Mindsets that will impact you – particularly if you are selling for a smaller business. The large Corporate Culture’s primary driving influence is safety and security.
Now don’t get ahead of me here, I’m not talking about the Safety Department or the Guards around the building. No, I’m talking about the mental mindset or agendas of the Corporate Decision Makers. These decision makers will only make a decision when they feel they are making a “Safe Choice” and this includes their vendors or suppliers.
The key to your success when meeting with a Corporate Decision Maker is to position yourself as “The Safe Choice Provider” of what you are selling. Now here is the rub – if you only get to a position of being seen as “A Safe Choice Provider,” then you are still at risk of losing the sale or account to a larger or better positioned competitor.
Your goal is to always be seen by the Corporate Buyer as “The Safe Choice Provider.” At that moment you basically have the sale or account ready to close. The reason is the buyer sees no one else as a competitor. You will have sealed the deal due to your positioning as “The” safe choice provider therefore there is little risk for the buyer.
Yes, it is all about personal agendas and being safe in “their” choices. These corporate types are very concerned about their careers and their job security. So they purposely look for the safe choice providers of the world to protect their security and job.
There are several things you can do to solidify your position with these buyers. First, position yourself with the language you use – state “as a safe choice provider for our corporate partners, we …(fill in the blank with what you do.).” Use a can-do attitude which implies you are solution oriented to any issues that could occur.
This is a good time for a case study or testimonial from a similarly large account. Make sure it is talking about how good you are, the types of issues you resolved or the personal attention you provide to this account. These are much more powerful than anything you can say – so use them.
One additional tip here for you. Really big accounts will “test you” before they do any business with you. It comes in the form of some type of “off the wall” or “out of left field” request – which usually involves some complexity or cost on your part to meet their request.
Usually this is a test to see how you handle the pressure or stress of their request. They usually know they don’t need it or in some cases they don’t even want it. The reason is they want to know – up front – if you will fight for them in dealing with unusual circumstances.
They are looking for the can-do people with the confidence to get things done without any excuses like “it’s not our policy to…” “I’ll have to check with my manager” or “I can’t do that!” They are looking for “The Safe Choice Provider” who will take up their requests and get it done – before making any money from a sale.
When I have had these requests, it is important to show you are willing to do it – even if it costs them more money to get it. When I come back with the solution AND THE OPTIONAL higher price tag, they usually buy without the add on request. The statement from the buyer is “I guess we don’t need that as much as I thought.”
The difference between being “The” or “A” Safe Choice Provider is being an absolute number one winner or coming in second on the contract. “The” means you are the only one left standing for their safety and security – so you win. “A” means you still in competition so something has to give – usually the contract goes to the larger company, the known brand company, or the known experience (certainty) of working with a competitor. Position yourself every opportunity you get and win.
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