Meetings · Business Development

How to Get Meetings?

Anonymous

August 26th, 2015

A bunch of startups ask me how they can meet with companies (e.g. Cisco, Microsoft, United Airlines, etc.) to get them to use the product, for partnerships, buy the startup (acquisition), and so on. How would they do it?  Personal connections? LinkedIn?


John Seiffer Business Advisor to growing companies

August 26th, 2015

There's a program called Supplier Connection run by IBM designed to help small firms sell to large ones (not just IBM) https://www.supplier-connection.net/SupplierConnection/index.html

Lee Stein Owner, Stein Writes, Inc.

August 26th, 2015

The biggest mistake non-creative sales persons make is to assume that if they don't get the big kahuna, the Sr. VP or Line-of-business manager, or whomever is their ideal target, that the phone or email is a waste. First, you have to have your ducks lined up in terms of marketing message. It's not about how fast you can do something, you have to frame it in terms of solving their problem. Also, the doorkeepers, meaning admins or chief assistants to the assistant chiefs are potentially your friends. Make friends with them and they will tell you little things that will help you. Good times to call (or not), for instance. Second, it's important to understand that sometimes, selling to a giant company like Cisco is a big mistake because you, as a startup or small business, don't have the infrastructure and experience to support their supply chain requirements which can be rigorous and for a small company, deadly. You also need to have a good CFO to make sure you have the operating cash to handle a large deal. More companies go broke from "over-success" than failing to find revenue (at least according to some). Third, it's highly unlikely that the sale to a large company will be based

Glenn Donovan Vice President of Sales (fractional)

August 26th, 2015

Your question is quite broad. Seeking an acquisition is quite different from selling a product. For strategic deals, go to their strategy/corp dev group or partnership group.

For selling product, there is no cookie cutter approach. In general, if you are going in completely cold your penetration is going to be slow. I recently saw a SaaS startup which claimed they had to send out 2000 emails to get one deal (I think this is awful, btw, but in fact that's what you will get if you are just spamming).

Here are a few thoughts:
1. Who are the stakeholders likely to care about your offering?
2. What will they perceive as valuable? Too often eager startup beavers talk endlessly about their products instead of the value to a the client. Put yourself in their world and communicate in terms of value to them instead of how awesome your product is.
3. Depending on who you are calling on, you may want to call the ring of people around them to try and generate a referral. If you are selling to CEOs this is a very good way to get to them. Also, don't hesitate to talk to anyone who's even tangentially related to what you are doing in the beginning. You'll be amazed at how some conversations go and who can help sometimes.
4. Use the magic phrase, "Can you help me?" Especially with gatekeepers, but often times I'll start off any cold call this way. "I'm wondering if you could help me figure out how to start a dialog with your company about XXXX?" First off, it assumes that such conversations are normal - which they are. Second, people love to help. They will tell you who to talk to or what's going on etc.

Last. There is nothing like perspiration and effort. Make the calls. Do the emails. Reach out on LinkedIn and Twitter. Work your network for referrals. Do research on the companies that you are calling on so you know what's going on with them.

A little hint for you: This is why sales people exist - it isn't just something you can figure out how to do by reading a blog post. It takes real skill and practice to do this well. Consider using a professional to do this for you and you will get better results.

Steve De Long Learning Faster Than Anyone Else.

August 26th, 2015

Once you figure out an angle to get a opportunity to pitch your target - warm introduction, networking event, conference, cold email, cold call - this formula  or a variation of it may be useful:

 1) Provide Context (saw that write up about you in TechCrunch and...)

2) Show Gratefulness (best if you've received a benefit from them for example via a blog post they wrote that taught you something)

3) Recognize the value of their time

4) Have a specific ask!

5) Limit their time commitment 

6) Make it convenient

7) Provide Value (example if they have active job postings indicate you have AND actually refer this posting to appropriate people in your network or look at their product/app, etc. and report bugs)  

8) Indicate how you will provide additional value (for example our product has done X for Y and we think you will get the same benefit).

Keep it short...  :-)

Robert DiLoreto

August 27th, 2015

See: How to Sell Disruptive Products to C-Level Executives

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQKxs4-PQdY

Glenn Donovan Vice President of Sales (fractional)

September 1st, 2015

Re: David's comment - It's so interesting to participate here, there are many different experiences and points of view. I have to say that David's characterization is not by any means always true. 

In fact, what determines if you go after enterprise accounts is the nature of your product and solution. I have personally won first through 10 large scale enterprise accounts for startup companies and none of what happened to David ever happened to me or the companies I worked for. Of course it could, but by no means is that certain.

I'm speaking from an enterprise sales background where I was tasked with penetrating Fortune 500 accounts for a living, year in, year out. I not only could win new business for them, I could get good pricing and do good deals. It takes a long time, is hard to do and the risks are high, but one can do so.

Just sayin'...

Michael

August 26th, 2015

Persistence and Patience are your best advice Next to networking and having a relationship developed with decision makers. At the core any compelling product or story will get your foot in the door which is the easy part, closing the deal whatever it is requires a value prop in favor of the companies needs or solving pinpoints. My first question back would be how many times have they picked up a phone and tried!

Sarah Miller BD & Product Marketing: go-to-market, pre-sales, content, consumer insights

August 26th, 2015

Great advice, Michael!  LinkedIn Is great for finding prospects,  but I would use their work email address, which you can easily figure out. Reaching out through LI is something I would only do if I already had a relationship.  Think about how annoying it is when somebody sends you a LinkedIn request  only to find out that they are trying to sell you something. I would add that really understanding who you are addressing (technical vs non-technical gate keepers and decision makers) is half the battle. 

Sarah Miller BD & Product Marketing: go-to-market, pre-sales, content, consumer insights

August 26th, 2015

I'd also use the approach of asking for advice from the larger companies without being too afraid that the idea will be poached. if you can customize the product to fit enterprise needs, then that can help the product with direction and success with those types of clients.

Douglas Kuhn CTO, Strategic Development Engineer at Greenwitch Productions LLC

August 26th, 2015

It is the difference between knowing surface knowledge of the contacts you wish to approach and the inner details of those targets.  Obtaining meetings with people in the decision levels of these companies is often a matter in knowing the correct details when in opposition of the gate keepers that guard their time management details.

Surface connections with Linkedin are a start, inner knowledge of needs, wants, and calendar events are the end game.