Big companies mean big money, right? Absolutely. But big companies also mean big requirements that you might be completely unaware of if you’ve never dealt with the enterprise before. From various security concerns to having enough runway to last until an enterprise finally pays off that first invoice, there are a number of things to consider before jumping in with the big fish.
We caught a talk by Adam Kalsey at last month’s Talkabot meetup in Austin, Texas, where he laid out what to expect when you’re dealing with a company with thousands of employees and millions of dollars — and sometimes no idea what to do with it all.
Kalsey previously founded and sold bot hosting platform imified (way back in the 2000s, long before the current bot craze) and now works to help startups figure out how to reach enterprises through his work at the Cisco Spark Innovation Fund. You can find the full video of Kalsey’s full talk at the end of this post.
According to Kalsey, the whole enterprise sales experience can be broken down into three distinct realms: Security, Back Office, and Sales.
“Enterprises are terrified of their data getting out,” explained Kalsey.
End-to-end encryption is just a first step, but it’s an extremely important one. Enterprises need to know that their data is protected during every step of the process — when it’s in transit as well as at rest. Publicly traded companies, and those involved in financial or health care related industries, face stiff regulations such as FINRA and HIPAA. And the rules of these federal regulations go beyond encryption into other realms, such as data jurisdiction and data retention.
Additionally, enterprises will require some sort of single sign-on, as a method of user and role management. If an employee gets fired in the morning, and enterprise doesn’t want to entertain that they will continue to have access to data well into the afternoon.
While you may already have guessed that security would be a sticking point for the enterprise, there are some more logistical issues that you might not have considered. For example, while individual users and small companies may have no problem paying with credit cards, enterprises will want a different method. Additionally, they may want to pay for longer periods of time and that payment may not be instantaneous. Kalsey also notes that you want to have a price level just under $500 a month, to get around corporate purchasing limits when you’re selling to a small group within an enterprise.
Beyond these logistical points, enterprises will expect you to provide both training and support, said Kalsey, and this point will likely lead you into the sales process. That is, while you will need to provide a service level agreement (SLA) around things like service up-time and the associated types of support you will provide, as well as employee training, these features will be negotiating points for your sales process.
The sales process is where things will really take a left turn, compared to what you’re used to dealing with when you sell to startups and individual users. While a startup may take days from consideration to purchase, Kalsey points out that an enterprise more commonly operates in business quarters (if not longer). What does this mean for you? You need to know that you have enough runway to not only last until the enterprise actually decides to purchase and implement your product, but then until the lengthy billing process also completes. While the payoff may be worth it in the end, you have to continue operating and making ends meet with other customers in the meantime.
In addition, while you may hook a startup with a freemium model, an enterprise may want a trial run as well. With the enterprise, however, this shouldn’t be free, as the burdens of dealing with the enterprise are far greater.
For Kalsey’s full, far more entertaining talk, check out the video included below:
Feature image via Pixabay.