January 04, 2021 | Sales Insights

Unless you’ve worked in enterprise sales personally, wrapping your head around its complexities and unique characteristics poses a massive challenge.

Enterprise selling happens across multiple channels, involves several stakeholders, and requires plenty of patience on your part. Small business sales, however challenging in their own way, are much more cut-and-dry.

Selling to the enterprise client requires a change of mindset. By making a few structural changes to your approach and strategy, you can leverage your creativity and skill to deliver incredible results.

6 Ways Enterprise Sales Differ from Small Business Sales

Small business sales cycles are often much easier to pin down. You can find key stakeholders on LinkedIn, track accounts in your email list, and get clear yes-or-no responses within a reasonable time.

Enterprise sales demand much more research, planning, and A/B testing to pull off successfully. Specifically, consider the factors below.

1. More People are Involved in Each Decision

Most small business purchase decisions come directly from the CEO or someone close to them. If multiple stakeholders weigh in, the discussion doesn’t involve more than two or three people in most cases.

Enterprise, meanwhile, typically involves between six and ten individuals. Each of these decision makers weighs four or five different pieces of content from your company as they discuss your product.

Not only do you have to consider each stakeholder’s individual mindset, but you must also consider how they’ll discuss your brand and product during meetings.

You can see how important it is to create comprehensive content for enterprise clients. Empowering content like product reviews and relevant case studies developed for buyers at each stage is key.

2. Enterprise Sales Cycles Can Take Years

Small business sales cycles tend to run a few months, often six months at max. Enterprise decisions take much longer – sometimes even several years.

Decision makers at enterprise companies might go months without meeting to discuss your brand or the solutions you offer.

Consider the mindset of enterprise companies. Enterprise organizations don’t plan in terms of quarters or years – they plan for decades. Enterprise companies want to know that you’re the right solution to partner with them for the long haul.

3. Enterprise Prioritizes Long-Term Goals Over Immediate Results

Small businesses are all about stability: stable growth, manageable risks, minimal hiccups, scalability. SMBs can’t afford risking long-term stability for short-term massive growth.

Many small businesses aren’t prepared to handle massive growth either. These CEOs might even distrust brands promising remarkable results. Instead, they need immediate ROI from your product.

Enterprise wants to see that you can handle their dynamic needs for years and decades to come. They need to see growth after partnering with you. Trimming an enterprise budget can free up thousands – or even millions – of dollars each month, so efficiency is key.

To show enterprise clients you’re prepared, you’ll need to highlight your brand’s long-term plans and product scalability as well.

4. The Purchase Process is Well-Defined and Structured Yet Complex

Enterprise sales are more mathematical than small businesses. Most small business sales are unstructured and happen quickly as needs arise.

Sales stages are clearly defined, involving rigorous structure and meetings. Revenue, inefficiencies, and productivity all drive conversations as they evaluate the best solutions together.

However, each enterprise is unique and complex. You can’t map out a single sales funnel and expect prospects to fit. Instead, consider account-based marketing. ABM lets you hone your research and tactics on individual companies so your message is always relevant.

5. Larger Enterprise Sales Bring Greater Risk

With enterprise, lives are on the line in every sale. A partnership gone sour can cost an enterprise company millions and even drive down share prices in some cases. You can be sure people will lose their jobs when disaster strikes.

Enterprise companies weigh much different concerns and issues as they evaluate your products and services. Make sure you understand these unique concerns for each account and create relevant content to ease fears with your solution.

6. Experience Still Matters

When dealing with enterprise sales and account-based marketing, it’s easy to forget that you’re still selling to individual humans – not company hive minds.

Enterprise leads and prospects still demand a personalized experience and human interaction. Incorporating AI into too many pieces of your sales process could drive leads away. No one wants to feel like they’re doing business with a machine.

However, your enterprise leads also spend 27% of their journey researching independently online. Use your website content to answer every concern and question you can imagine but give them tools to connect as well. Live chats, texting, emails, and video meetings are all great choices.

Change Your Mindset and Win with Enterprise Sales

We often try to place prospects into nice little categorial boxes. In many ways, generalizations are necessary for segmenting your audience, creating relevant content, and understanding pain points.

But generalizations are just that – general.

Account-based marketing gives you the best chance of connecting with enterprise clients. ABM lets you focus on the unique needs of each enterprise client. Traditional marketing doesn’t offer the same level of personalization – especially when every enterprise faces totally distinct challenges and needs.

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