Clients are not as different as you may think when working with small or big enterprises. At the end of the day, it is always about achieving results and communicating with the decision maker on the other side of the table.
One important thing to note is that higher paying clients are often from larger organizations, and they are structured differently to small-scale businesses.
Types Of Enterprise Businesses
In terms of the organization structure, here are the types of enterprise businesses (small, medium and large ones) that are worth noting upfront:
- There are enterprises with thousands or tens of thousands of employees, which operate in dozens of countries.
- There are companies who employ 100-500 people and provide solutions in several different areas.
- There are successful, fast-paced funded start-ups or innovative organizations comprised of smaller teams who offload certain assignments to skillful partners.
5 Main Considerations Working With Large Corporations
Enterprises have plenty of oddities to keep into account if you haven’t provided services for large corporations. I would classify them in five main categories as compared to small businesses:
The Stakes Are High
Reputation is important for any business or persona out there.
Large organizations do have a lot to lose, though. Consider a site outage – a small business receiving 100 visitors a month may not even notice a downtime for a few minutes while an enterprise could receive thousands of support requests from customers failing to use the platform or interact with the brand.
ROI Opportunities Are Massive
Everything is at scale with enterprises.
- 5% traffic growth may be worth millions of new users.
- 1% conversion rate increase for a form may bring thousands of new submissions weekly and millions of monthly revenue in growth.
- Same goes for automating processes and connecting pieces together.
Communication Is Slower
While you can discuss the business requirements with a small business owner over lunch, negotiating an enterprise deal may very well take months, if not over a year.
There are plenty of decision makers in different departments influencing the final decision and introducing additional requirements or constraints. This slow pace and the belated payments are the two main challenges we’ve had with enterprises.
Procedures And Processes
Small businesses are often chaotic and unstructured. They’re still molding, adjusting the product-market fit, aligning to the business expectations.
Enterprises have proven themselves and have established processes, regulations, and protocols that you need to comply with and follow – which may intervene with your usual workflow as well.
The size of a solution or the scope of a project with enterprises is usually much larger. This requires ongoing collaboration and communication with their on-site teams, external consultants and contractors, partners, vendors, and other involved parties. That may affect your planning or flexibility as well.
If securing high paying clients in big businesses is your ultimate goal, then landing your first few ‘big fish’ will add credibility to your portfolio and certainly boost your confidence. Delivering services for small businesses is one thing, but being able to keep up with the changing progress of a successful organization and increasing its exposure will strengthen your authority and influence in your chosen niche.
Your increased experience and knowledge in this area will assist in generating high-quality leads, higher revenue, and business expansion. While the initial hassle of working with larger clients can sometimes be stressful and time-consuming, hang in there because the long-term benefits will be the defining point of your business success.
Large corporations and enterprises often utilize 4 different strategies when in need of additional manpower:
- Hiring staff internally
- Partnering up with an established large organization specializing in that niche
- Offloading a specific project or a component to a qualified team at an affordable cost (when compared to building an in-house team)
- Working with a boutique agency with top-level consultants profiling in strategy, architecture, or other key areas of their process
There are certain variations and combinations in-between but those are quite common for many organizations. Acquisitions are also an option. Let’s review each of the four scenarios separately.
How Do You Approach Big Companies?
1. Hiring New Employees
Hiring staff in-house for a large organization is a no-brainer. That’s often the preferred approach, especially as companies are not in favor of remote working, flexible hours, freelancing due to the lack of accountability and micromanagement.
That’s often applicable in departments that are already integral for the company. Business processes are in place, along with the right management hierarchy that could scale.
Sometimes, there are business activities that are not a core part of the business. For example, a manufacturing organization may have a development team in-house building embedded software for their own warehouses or factories. That doesn’t mean that they have a web development team or an IT support department in-house taking care of that on a day-to-day.
Building a new department often requires hiring several staff members, a team leader, a project manager. That also requires more office space available and spending a lot of time on HR, building the team from the ground, and ensuring that team members could work together.
Small businesses have already built teams – even if they are small ones. Team members are used to working together and collaborating successfully on projects.
2. Partnering Up With Large Brands
Enterprises often form strategic partnerships with other large businesses. That seems like a good option when the new partner has been on the market for 20, 30, 50 years or more.
They have to do something right if they manage to generate recurring revenue and grow the company with a steady pace.
That’s also a great PR move as companies can do fusion marketing and share parts of their business. Overall, there are plenty of benefits and that’s a common scenario for many organizations.
There are a couple of loopholes here that small businesses may use during negotiations or sales meetings.
- There aren’t plenty of large organizations on the market that would be a suitable partner. Some industries have none, or just one or two available. And there may be some culture differences or other business conflicts that prevent a partnership from happening.
- It’s unclear who would handle the actual work with the new partner. Some may suggest that top level talent would be handling the new enterprise but that’s not always the case. You may very well work with interns and entry-level people managed by a couple of experienced account managers.
3. Outsourcing To A Reputable Cost-Effective Team
As indicated in the hiring section, building a team from the ground may be an expensive endeavor. You need a new room or two for the new hires, office equipment, dealing with HR overhead, taxes, insurance, holidays. It’s both time-consuming, risky, and expensive.
Offloading the work to an outsourcing agency or a niche business that has tons of experience working with similar businesses is often a good option. There are companies that build a business model around thin margins and volume. They may generate 10% or 20% on top of each employee but bill 100% of the time and manage the ongoing contracts flawlessly.
Additionally, if you’re a niche business (say, working only within the clothing industry), you are intimately familiar with the market problems. Composing a team of industry experts is massively complicated and hiring an agency working in your industry which is also cost-effective would be a good option (given your portfolio of projects in the same industry).
Purely offshore deals are also feasible cost-wise for less critical areas of the enterprise business.
4. Consulting Contracts
There’s one more viable model revolving around consulting. Working with industry professionals that have proven success case stories is beneficial as well.
Some of those consulting contracts are part-time. Usually, boutique agencies are smaller and work with a limited number of experts. They work closely with the business, attend meetings, produce incredible results within shorter time frames.
It’s not uncommon for a consultant to work along with the enterprise teams. Think of it as an external team leader or coach overseeing the process and ensuring great results.
There are less overhead and fewer parties involved in all conversations.
What Matters When Pitching a Large Business?
There are certain problemsthat you should be aware of early on. Other than that, landing a deal would depend on your costs and your portfolio.
If you’re a boutique company, position yourself as an industry leader and a team of outstanding staff members profiling in certain areas. If you want to grow and can afford lower costs, consider the outsourcing/offshore approach as well.
You will still need experience with smaller clients solving similar problems on a lower scale. Providing some consulting on the side in order to showcase results for larger brands would be beneficial as well.
Consider attending company events and business meetups where you could meet prospects and build a relationship on site. A deal with a large business may take months or even a year. Building strategic relationships early on would help you create some authority in the meantime.