Most entrepreneurs would love to land large corporate accounts, but they often don't try for one simple reason: They're afraid. "Smaller companies get intimidated by them," says Guy Sohie, president of Global Insite, an Austin, Texas, consulting firm with annual sales hovering around $200,000. "So instead of trying to figure out how to approach larger companies, they just write them off as potential customers."
The fear is justified, says Sohie, who specializes in helping smaller businesses sell to bigger ones. Corporations tend to do business very differently than entrepreneurs. They're more hierarchical, more conservative and slower to react. In addition, it's not an easy market to break into--especially now that the trend at many bigger companies is to use fewer suppliers.
Nevertheless, Sohie believes entrepreneurs should still pursue corporate accounts. "It's not just the initial revenue you get," he says. "Once you're in there and do a good job, one division in the company can easily refer you to another."
Bill Kelley is an Arcadia, California, business writer and former editor of Sales and Marketing Management magazine.