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The enterprise sales: 5 steps to close deals with corporate giants

It may feel tough but you can do this — it’s not like you’re taking on Starfleet!

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Here you are, finally on the radar of the enterprise. No, we’re not talking about a certain space ship from the 23rd century, but about that comparably large business that you’ve been trying to get in touch with for ages. Now that contact has been made it can either be smooth sailing or a bumpy ride.

The prospecting stage is tough enough. You may even have sought help from one of our other articles on how to engage B2B buyers! Yet getting a response is only the first hurdle to jump. A star sales team has strategies in place to ensure that they won’t tank the enterprise sale.

Before we get into the steps for winning an enterprise deal, let’s take a look at how selling to enterprises differs from selling to small and medium businesses.

What is enterprise sales?

Enterprise sales is a straightforward concept but challenging to execute. Also known as complex sales, it involves selling products and services to large corporations in the B2B space, such as CRMs, cybersecurity tools, and other comprehensive software.

There are several characteristics that distinguish enterprise sales from other sales methods. Enterprise deals usually have longer sales cycles, involve multiple decision-makers and stakeholders, require more investment and effort from the sales team, and result in larger deal sizes.

It comes down to the scale of the client. Enterprise clients have thousands of employees and millions of dollars in revenue and can commit to large contracts. Therefore, the sales process is longer and more complicated. Unlike SMBs, enterprise clients do not easily sign off on a large contract after just a single product demonstration.

Enterprise sales benefits

Given the level of complexity and the amount of effort required, you may think that enterprise selling is not worth it. However, that is not the case.

There are four main reasons why B2B businesses place such a high value on enterprise sales.

  • One of the biggest benefits is higher revenue. You are targeting large clients with large budgets who are willing to spend more than SMBs. While it may require more investment to acquire enterprise customers, the lifetime value of these customers can be substantial. These contracts can also greatly impact your company’s valuation.
  • Another benefit is increased brand awareness. When you can name a well-known enterprise company as one of your customers, it becomes easier to attract smaller businesses. To win enterprise clients, it is essential to position your brand as a thought leader. This requires effort but sets up your brand for long-term success. This can further boost your brand awareness and make it easier to attract enterprise and mid-market clients.
  • Lastly, enterprise clients tend to have more stable relationships with their providers. By pursuing an enterprise sales strategy, you can build long-term relationships that can be profitable for years.

Enterprise vs SMB sales cycle – What’s the difference?

The main factor separating an enterprise from a small- and medium- sized business (or SMB) is, of course, the size.

Because an enterprise is the largest type of business, an enterprise sales cycle has:

  • A lengthy sales cycle (6+ months)
  • Lots of stakeholders
  • Higher risk
  • A longer negotiation period
  • A high contract value

The SMB sales cycle, on the other hand:

  • Has a shorter sales cycle
  • Has few stakeholders
  • Is lower risk
  • Takes less time for negotiations

It’s necessary to be aware of these differences in order to accurately predict your sales quotas. For instance, say you’re selling enterprise software. A large company expects to save big bucks with your SaaS platform, but it will cost them a large financial commitment up front if they’re buying for 1000 employees compared to, say, a small business buying for 15. Because it’s higher risk many decision-makers will be involved in the buying process and the enterprise software sales cycle will take longer.

Now that the enterprise sales cycle has been laid out, how can a sales rep successfully move through all the way to close?

How to start the enterprise sales process?

Prepare to sell

To prepare to close a large enterprise deal, a lot more prep work is needed. The last thing you want to do is lose the buyer’s attention because you didn’t engage in enough research and discovery. Get inside their world: set up company and industry alerts. Ask them all the right questions in order to fill in the gaps of what they need.

Knowing the enterprise hierarchy is also part of this. There will be numerous stakeholders involved in the purchasing process and it’s part of your job to know who they are. For instance, an average of 7 decision-makers are involved in the enterprise software sales cycle before a deal is closed. Learning which departments and individuals will be involved in the decision-making can be incredibly helpful for mapping out the buying process.

Finally, whether it’s software, cybersecurity, big data, healthcare, or financial services — know your own product industry and niche.

Becoming familiar with these elements is how a super sales rep offers the prospect something they can’t get anywhere else — to boldly go where no solution has gone before, if you will.

Build a relationship to build rapport

The better your reputation with the enterprise, the more leverage you have for closing a deal with them. Get your name out there by networking. Engage with potential clients on social media, attend industry conferences and events, and get involved in a committee to raise your credibility.

Another helpful step of growing a relationship is finding a champion; in other words, someone who already uses and loves your product. Having someone else sing your praises to your prospect can turn them into a client!

Remember, discussions with decision-makers will likely not be linear: people from different departments of the enterprise might be speaking with multiple people from your company simultaneously. And that’s a good thing! Just be aware of who is talking to whom so you don’t appear out of the loop. You don’t want to read an email that reads “Yeah, Tim already emailed us about that last week… don’t you guys talk?”

Revenue Engage makes these types of missteps impossible while nurturing. If an account changes ownership or someone from an organization responds to anyone from your organization, automated messaging will be stopped.

If you’ve already developed a relationship, Revenue Guide can help hash out who knows who on both sides of a deal with relationship maps.

Be there for the prospect as much as possible; answer any and all questions and don’t go too long without making your presence known, whether that’s by a direct email or a “Like” on their LinkedIn post.

Choose an appropriate strategy

There are several time-tested sales methodologies. Here’s a snapshot of some popular ones:

  • SPIN selling: Separated into four stages (Situation, Problem, Implication, Need) with a focus on asking the right questions at each stage.
  • Challenger selling: Named after one of the B2B sales personalities, this style involves sales reps taking an active role in the customer conversation.
  • Solution selling: Finding the customer’s biggest problem and selling them a solution to it.
  • Value selling: Selling according to what benefits the product offers.
  • Target account selling: Each salesperson focuses on just a handful of accounts in order to build stronger relationships with each potential client.

What you settle on will depend on your niche. For instance, in the enterprise software sales cycle, solution selling is an effective method because you can specifically calculate how much time, money, and effort your program will save the buyer.

Remember, you are your greatest selling tool, so the most effective strategy also depends on what works best for you and your team.

Enterprise sales software

81% of sales teams today don’t audit their sales process regularly. To make the same mistake would be highly illogical, Captain!

Tailor a set of repeatable steps you can follow to take an enterprise from the prospect stage to a closed sale. Some typical steps are prospecting, first contact, assessing the needs of the enterprise, presenting your product, addressing concerns, and ultimately, closing and following up.

Map the full customer journey and establish a sales process. Adjust it over time to ensure it has predictable results that work for the whole sales team, every single time. Make sure the most successful sales can be replicated. Of course, review the sales process regularly and adapt it with any necessary changes.

A guided selling tool like Revenue Grid makes testing strategies and comparing results easy with intuitive, in-depth analytics for your reps, team, and opportunities. Revenue Grid is an all-in-one guided selling platform for enterprises for a number of reasons. With this powerful tool you can:

  • Coordinate and align diverse revenue teams and provide AI-driven insights at each step of the enterprise sales process
  • Check pipeline health at any point in time and catch deals at risk before they go south

  • Base sales forecasts on the real data and immediately see what part of the forecast is at risk
  • Use actionable insights to nudge sales reps toward the right action at the right time within each deal

See Revenue Grid in action

Be patient

Patience is more than just a virtue: it’s a necessity. The enterprise sales cycle lasts more than six months, with many stakeholders involved at multiple levels up the business chain, and therefore more people to negotiate with. Naturally, winning over multiple decision-makers takes time.

At the same time, enterprise sales have a high return for the time you put into them because the contracts are so much larger. All that extra effort is worthwhile!

Follow up regularly. Cultivate the relationship between your company and the enterprise. Don’t spam your prospect and don’t get discouraged: Focus on the long-term goal. By remaining patient — and putting the necessary time and dedication into these steps — you will find yourself closing more enterprise sales.

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