As a solopreneur, your days are spent trying to land and then satisfy your clients. A large corporation as a client can solve many of your problems, bringing in better income and improving your branding efforts.
"Typically the biggest expense for a small or solo business owner is the cost of getting a new client. Focusing on the big fish that can continue to invest in working with you over the long term provides incredible benefits to cash flow and sustainability of your business, and it's why the research shows that winning corporate clients is so important if you want to build a 7-figure business," says Angelique Rewers, CEO and founder of The Corporate Agent, a consultancy that specializes in helping micro business owners to win corporate clients
Here are some steps to take to land that first corporate client.
1. Take an Unexpected Route
No matter what it is you are selling or the service you are offering, unless it is incredibly unique, you must understand that large corporations are a target for hundreds, if not thousands, of other entrepreneurs like yourself.
So how can you get noticed?
The first step is to take your product or service to someone unexpected.
Would your service help with the company's branding goals?
Don't take it straight to the marketing department. Instead, target the customer service department, or even the sales team. Both of these will benefit from having better brand recognition, and they may be more than happy to hear about what you have to offer.
Because these leaders are not being slammed by hundreds of marketing tools, you may be able to land the client by proving your benefit to decision makers in an unexpected part of the company, you just might have better success. Remember, decision makers exist in all areas of a major corporation, and your goal is to find the one that will listen.
2. Never Sell to a Corporation
Your sales pitch? They have heard it 1,000 times. You need to prove that you are equipped to help them with a problem they have, instead of trying to sell to them.
How can you get them to buy into what you have to offer without selling? Find a way to help them.
Perhaps you have seen something in the news about a struggle the corporation is having that your service can fix.
Maybe you have noticed a problem in their marketing or product that you are equipped to handle.
Call up the department connected with this, mention that you noticed the problem, and offer to send a resource in the mail or via email. You have not tried to sell anything, but you have made a positive contact. Should your resource prove helpful, you will likely get another call for an appointment to discuss what you can offer, all without being seen as a pushy sales-focused individual.
3. Have a Value Proposition Pitch
Forget the "elevator pitch." That is an old tactic that is no longer effective. Instead, you need to be prepared to deliver your value proposition so that you gain the hearer's attention in 30 to 60 seconds. When you get the chance to talk to a decision maker, deliver that value proposition and prove that you have a tangible, measurable result for them that is something they should not resist.
Of course, make sure your value proposition is something you can deliver. Have facts and statistics to prove your position when you get further opportunities to explain what you are trying to do. Remember, corporate clients can sniff out someone who is simply blowing steam and trying to land a client. You need to be able to deliver what you are promising.
4. The Art of Follow-up
Landing a corporate client requires follow up. You must be able to be persistent, without becoming a pest, if you don't get a positive answer the first time. Persistence is likely a strong point of yours if you are a solopreneur, but the key is going to be finding that tricky balance.
So, how much follow up should you offer? According to statistics, its the fifth to seventh interaction with a potential client that will land most people the position. Each time you interact, have an agenda in mind, and don't be disappointed if the answer is "not yet." Keep the doors open and the relationship positive, and you will land that client soon.
5. Time Your Pitch
Today's corporate decision makers are constantly in a frenzy. They have problems bombarding them left and right as they try to keep their companies afloat in difficult economic times. The solopreneurs who are able to land these clients are the ones that time their pitches appropriately.
"There's a lot of talk these days about 'creating' urgency in marketing and sales. But when it comes to selling to corporate clients," said Rewers, "it's much better to find the urgency that already exists for the client versus trying to artificially manufacture it from the outside."
How can you do this?
You have to have a handle on what is going on in the industry. You have to know what the decision makers are worried about at the time you make your pitch. If you can pitch something that is fresh and current in their minds, then you will increase your chances of landing the client.
Practically, how can you make this happen?
Set up alerts so you are aware of press releases for that company or that industry. Know what is going on with your target clients, and target your pitches appropriately. You will see greater responses as a result.
Can a solopreneur land a large corporate client?
Yes, but the road is not easy. Keep these tips in mind, start pitching and building relationships, and watch as you land that first corporate client.
Once you have one, keep it happy! These are the clients that reproduce themselves, so you will want a positive interaction.