Is enterprise sales the career path for you if you like selling, high risk and high return? Will it be enough just to master sales skills and be fluent in business terminology? Or will the growing influence of tech impact your success in this field?
If you’re considering a future in sales, then you will need to be comfortable working alongside tech. The salespeople of the future will compete against chatbots and other AI technology. But the ones who excel will be those who can converse like personal coaches with their customers.
Industry experts say, “The future isn’t ‘death of a salesman,’ it’s ‘death of a lazy salesman.’ The best salespeople will embrace it and automate their lives to spend more time closing.” And we will “see a rise in the need for excellent sales training around conversational abilities and navigating complex sales effectively.”
What Is Enterprise Sales?
To use a dating metaphor, you’re looking for a long term relationship that could take months to become what you’re looking for.
Here’s one definition of enterprise sales, also called complex sales. It “refers to the procurement of large contracts that typically involve long sales cycles, multiple decision makers, and a higher level of risk than traditional sales (also known as SMB, referring to sales to small- and medium-sized businesses).”
This type of sales isn’t for those who want to earn a quick buck. You get a high return, but you have to be ready to play the long game.
A complex sale is a large contract because it will deliver a large scale, corporate level solution. It will take longer to close, involve many decision makers, and have a higher degree of risk.
It’s different from the more common sales process, transactional sales, where the customer already knows what they want to buy. They’re looking for a good deal, and after they’ve bought, you may never hear from them again.
Forms Of Enterprise Sales
These sales are usually B2B (business to business) and involve selling software, systems, or equipment. Specialized knowledge is required to be able to explain how these solutions apply to the customer’s situation.
- Consulting engineering services
- Facility Management (FM) bids including provision of soft and hard FM services
- Government acquisition such as for military hardware and services
Software and Tech
- Security systems
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Point Of Sale (POS) solutions
- Private data networks such as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS)
- Scientific Solution Sales (Data analysis and management)
- Building management systems
- Government acquisition such as for military hardware and services
- Large fleet vehicle sales
- Mining equipment sales
Real Estate and Property
- Commercial insurance sales
- Real Estate development
The Effect Of Technology On Sales
Just how far reaching is enterprise sales? If you’re one of thousands of workers who have been working from home, then chances are high that it is a part of your life.
Remember the days when you bought software for your computer, and then you opened a CD Rom to load the software onto one computer? That system worked back then, because things we owned had one purpose only.
Our TV was for watching shows, our computer was for work, our telephone was for communication.
But as we transitioned into using multiple devices — mobile phones, tablets, and computers — we wanted the flexibility of taking our favorite shows and our work files wherever we went. That spurred on yet another change: SaaS.
Software as a Service (SaaS) is “on demand software” that businesses use to allow us to access information on multiple devices. For example, Dropbox, Google Apps, Slack, and Mailchimp.
Why Enterprise and Not Transactional Sales?
Selling SaaS involved creating a solution that would impact a company’s business operations on a strategic level. Just think about how much more flexible your life has become because you could access Office software on multiple devices.
Imagine starting a file at the office, reading over what you’ve written on your mobile as you ride the subway, and then making some edits on your computer from home.
If you work for a small to medium business, the software your company uses could have been purchased over the phone or in person through transactional selling.
This level of software has higher costs with tiered pricing. Software reps can provide discounts and recommendations.
Enterprise sales is for low volume and high prices, with highly specialized or cutting edge solutions. Salespeople typically work for months with prospects to answer questions, demo the software, and meet with executive stakeholders.
The prospects are larger companies or corporations. The sales reps work with product marketers and engineers to get the information they need to close these high-value deals.
Enterprise sales involves longer sales cycles, and high pressure, high ticket deals. The sales team has an important role in nurturing relationships with the client, and providing tailored solutions with personal attention to these accounts.
How long is a sales cycle? It depends on the amount of the contract. Hubspot provided these comparisons between the number of days in a cycle and the amount.
- 40.1 Days: < $5K
- 62.2 Days: $5K-$10K
- 84.1 Days: $10K-$50K
- 116.6 Days: $50K-$100K
- 169.6 Days: $100K+
These contracts involve a higher customer acquisition cost but more revenue over the long term.
How Much Does A SaaS Rep Earn?
If you’re willing to learn technical information about products, and nurture relationships with clients over the long term, you can expect to earn a higher income than most who are in sales.Enterprise software sales can make the highest paid salespeople at some companies $250,000 to $350,000 a year. It’s even possible for some to make $1 million a year. Click To Tweet
In a 2017 report published by BetterCloud, “73% of IT professionals surveyed said that 80% of their organization’s business applications will be delivered as SaaS products by 2020. As of 2017, the SaaS industry generated $46 billion annually. That number is expected to grow to $76 billion by 2020 and continue growing at a rapid rate.”
Indeed calculated the national average base salary to be $62,881 for a SaaS account executive. The Bridge Group (an inside sales consulting firm), included both base salary and commissions to arrive at a total of $118,000.
What Is The Enterprise Sales Process?
Let’s say you’re willing to take risks on high pressure, high ticket deals. What can you do to succeed at enterprise sales?
They are always looking for rainmakers who can close deals.
These salespeople know how important relationship building is, and how complex they can be. The average sales cycle can take half a year to two years, so it will take a while before you can celebrate a win.
You will also deal with many possible decision makers. In total, you might be speaking to more than a dozen people from different departments, and make multiple presentations at many meetings.
These meetings will take place over three months, or maybe up to a year.
In one scenario, depending on the size of the company, you could be dealing with the CEO, president, or department head. In another scenario, you could be dealing with the sole decision maker. But that person will require approval from a board.
The third scenario is you could be working with multiple decision makers requiring a group consensus before they can move forward and do business with you.
How To Find Business
To find prospects for enterprise sales, start with who you know and tap into your warm leads and list of contacts. Another possibility is to solve problems for your connections like a consultant, not a salesperson focused on closing a deal.
Another approach is to help others first. One way is to make connections between your contacts. The idea is that one day, one of your contacts will return the favor.
Additional ways to find prospects include:
- Email campaigns and cold calls
- Attending industry events or joining committees
- Advertising on LinkedIn
How To Work With Enterprise Clients
Maybe you’ve worked in sales before, or this will be your first time, and you’re not sure how to approach an enterprise client. What are some points you should be aware of, to increase your chances at successfully closing a deal?
Here are four tips to keep in mind:
1. Clarify the value add.
From the start, if you make your value proposition clear, potential enterprise clients will be excited to hear more. What does your product or service do for the prospect? How is your company offering something different than what other companies are offering?
2. Make your message simple, yet leave an impact.
If you state your message clearly and concisely, your audience will be engaged. Tell them: who is your audience? What do you offer your customers? How can your product or service enhance their company?
You know you’ve done your job when they can accurately describe what you do in their own words.
3. Save the details for the end.
After the enterprise clients has decided they wanted to do business with you, they have to know every detail. What is your funding model? Who are some other clients that you work with? What is the size of the company you represent?
Be prepared to share stories about your work with other customers and some testimonials. This is also the time to address any concerns or fears that they may have.
4. Reduce shock value.
Enterprise clients are risk adverse, so shock value might get their attention and make you stand out from your competition, but it may repel your prospect also.
Customer expectations have gone up over time. They want an experience that is well timed and value-driven.
“Today, 80 percent of customers expect a sales rep not to sell but to add value. They expect a personalised and knowledgeable approach, they expect fast delivery of quotes and contracts, and they expect post-sale support to be seamless.”
How Do You Succeed At Enterprise Sales?“You can have everything in life, if you will just help other people to get what they want.” - Zig Ziglar Click To Tweet
Enterprise sales is more challenging than other types of sales. There are a lot more considerations to be made and many more factors that could go wrong. How could you prepare yourself against the unexpected?
First, remember that relationship building has a key role in enterprise sales. If you want to close deals, think about what solutions you are going to provide the customer. What do they need?
Here are some questions to ask yourself during the enterprise sales process:
- Does the prospect have a need for the service? Does the prospect have a budget set aside?
- When do you expect certain milestones to occur? Have a clear process for doing the sale and track your time goals. Months can easily pass by before a final decision is made.
- Who is the decision maker? Build relationships with only the decision maker. In some cases, there is more than one decision maker.
Build strong relationships
How can you help the prospect to solve their problems and grow their business? When you’re working with a large enterprise, you want to become a trusted advisor.
Think about how you make your buying decisions. When you chose your phone plan, how did you decide which company to go with? People buy from people they know and trust. You likely picked the company that you trusted to deliver reliable service to you.
Now imagine yourself buying a car. There are several makes of car that interest you, but eventually you choose a car brand because you like it the best. You go to the dealership and you meet one of the salespeople.
You don’t like the salesperson because they seem desperate to sell a car and they’re recommending a model you don’t like. Would you still want to buy the car from that salesperson? Probably not.
People buy “you” first. They buy because of the person, because they trust you.
And finally, they buy value that’s unique to them.
If you don’t make long distance calls, would you care that your phone plan has the cheapest long distance rates? Not likely. But, if you check email a lot when you’re out of reach of Wifi, would you be interested in a great data plan? Probably yes.
When you have a good understanding of what your prospect is looking for, you can recommend what best fits their needs.
Understanding the customer
Another way to understand your customer’s needs is to research them on social media.
What can you learn about your customer from the social media accounts of the company and key decision makers? It will give you a better idea about their current issues, solutions they are looking for, and what’s important to them.
Enterprise buyers tend to be more risk adverse. They’ll want to see what you’ve achieved with other enterprise clients because the average decision maker in enterprise-level organizations would want to minimize failure.
Keep a list of other enterprise customers on hand, and be prepared to talk about what results you’ve given your other customers.
Another part of mitigating risk is understanding the prospect’s ecosystem. For example, introducing a new software to the company could have a domino effect. In some cases, it could trigger undesired results.
Questions to ask yourself are: What risks could the solution trigger? Does the solution fit into the prospect’s ecosystem? How does the innovation affect systems and departments within the company?
The Future Of Enterprise Sales
In the future, technology will help sales to go much faster. Cloud-based software will become more popular with customers, and change the way that the service provider does business.
For salespeople and sales teams, technology will improve their productivity. This is especially important for sales teams, who spend as much as 65% of their time on non-revenue generating activities.
Automation through technology will reduce the amount of time and effort spent on repetitive tasks, especially with the help of AI. It can help to generate email to customers using templates. It can also help to predict the best opportunities for closing within the long sales cycle.
The future of enterprise software over the next four years is looking bright. There is a rising trend toward big data analytics and cloud computing, business intelligence and analytics, and adoption of database management systems.
“Enterprise software is generally implemented by the business organizations for a number of line-of-business operations, which include human resources, sales and service, planning, inventory and materials management, business intelligence, manufacturing, customer relationship management, purchasing, finance and accounting, and marketing.
The primary advantage of using enterprise software is to escalate the work efficiency along with productivity and gain a significant competitive advantage.”
If you’re interested in enterprise sales, be prepared for high risk and high return, but also playing the long game. As an advisor more than a seller, you’ll be building relationships over several months with a prospect.
Enterprise sales, also called complex sales, involves selling services, technology, or equipment. Because it is so closely tied with technology, AI is improving the way both the customers and the sales team do business.
Salespeople will make increasing use of technology to improve the sales process and track more menial tasks, giving them more time to work on the sales process. It will also mean salespeople with a higher level of knowledge about technology.
Interested in learning about how sales skills can help you close enterprise sales or sales in any industry? Click on the link below to find out more.