You’ve been in the entrepreneurial game for a while now, and you’re getting restless. But it’s not because you don’t love what you do, you just have your eyes on the prize -- closing your first big enterprise deal.
Before you dive into that endeavor head first, you need to carefully match up your product and pitch with enterprise-level expectations. If your product is generic or bug-ridden, you’re probably not going to land that sought-after client.
Getting involved before you’re fully prepared can mean more than missing out on this one chance -- it can seriously jeopardize future opportunities. Potential clients will look at how (or if) you delivered on expectations. And while a strong recommendation can boost your business, a dismal one can devastate it.
That’s why it’s critical to properly equip yourself so you don’t bite off more than you can chew. To assess your readiness to win over an enterprise client, make sure you can answer these six questions without hesitation:
1. What’s your point of differentiation?
You need to bring something to the table that potential clients haven’t seen before -- or a concept or technology that will relieve a pain point. Don’t risk being shown up when a competitor presents a similar product that has more features or a better-developed idea.
2. Have you tested it out?
You should enter a meeting with a thorough understanding of how your product will work in any given environment. How confident are you that it will fully deliver every time, even under extreme circumstances?
If you’re a little uncertain, you need to test your product’s limits in worst-case scenarios. Enterprise clients want new, compelling products, but they don’t want to be guinea pigs.
3. Is your product scalable?
You need infrastructure in place that can handle production and distribution for thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands. Working with an enterprise could easily mean transitioning to a global scale.
Depending on your product, you may need to adapt across regions, address language barriers and ensure proper integration. Conduct thorough research, and make sure your operations can maintain efficacy through exponential growth.
4. What are your failsafes?
Enterprises can’t shut down when problems arise. If something goes wrong, you need multiple levels of behind-the-scenes support guaranteeing workarounds and service abilities. When your product hits a snag, your client should remain unaffected.
5. Do you have a team in place?
An internal account team should be ready to manage enterprise-client relationships. This team’s job is to dig deep into clients’ nuances, uncover their definitions of success and satisfy them. This includes dedication to timelines, accountability for shortcomings and effective communication.
6. Are you prepared for the meeting?
If you’re not at the point where you can serve the scale that an organization needs, you have no place meeting with its decision-makers. You never want to get in over your head and set yourself up for failure. However, if you’re in such a meeting, always communicate what you can do to meet their needs. Focus on what solutions you can accomplish, and set appropriate expectations.
Along with outlining how you can help them, inquire about past problems they’ve dealt with. You don’t want to make the same mistakes as vendors they’ve been burned by in the past.
Your first opportunity with an enterprise brings with it the potential for huge growth and a sense of "arriving" as a business. But as the stakes rise, the risk of failure can be outright frightening.
The only real tactic that will help you revel in the excitement and worry less about the dangers you face is being fully prepared and aware of your product’s strengths and weaknesses.