Selling to the Enterprise Customer

Ben Horowitz has a good article posted at TechCrunch entitled, “Meet the New Enterprise Customer, He’s a Lot Like the Old Enterprise Customer.” Be sure to read the entire post as it is worth your time, but here is the summary version.

Times Have Changed

It used to be that technology adoption flowed like this: government first, then large business, then small business then consumer. Today, that has completely been flipped on its head. The latest technology goes to consumers first, then business, then government. This shift has all sorts of side effects, but the one worth noting is this: how do you bring technology to the enterprise business?

The Rules Haven’t Changed

Many people wrongly assumed that as consumers lead the technology adoption, getting to enterprise business will now be much easier – after all, big enterprise business are just made up of consumers right? All I have to do is win over the consumer and they become champions for my product on the inside! Not so fast.

You Still Have to Be Good at What You Do

Large companies have complex processes to ensure that major purchases make sense. Winning over one, or even a handful of employees at the consumer level, does not guarantee enterprise adoption. The reason: they are not the only decision makers. It is very common for a major purchase decision to include people from many different departments and business functions. This means you are going to need to talk to economic decision makers, technical decision makers, and even risk management decision makers.

In my humble opinion, this leads to the best line in the entire article:

“Often these processes are so complex that almost nobody inside the company knows how they work. Excellent enterprise sales reps will guide a company through their own purchasing processes. Without an enterprise sales rep, many companies literally do not know how to buy new technology products. A top notch enterprise sales person not only knows her customer’s process better than the customer,”

The Conclusion

If you are selling to consumers or companies that behave like consumers, then your strategies and marketing may need to look different than 20 years ago. However, if you plan to focus on a large enterprise, remember that the new boss is the same as the old boss. Know your customer.

Read the entire article here.

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