Ever wondered how to sell to corporate clients? Follow these 4 steps for the ideal end-to-end sales process.
Selling to corporate clients has lots of different considerations, from establishing the right client and identifying their exact needs to the different types of outbound sales. As a venue, you probably liaise with corporate clients daily and it’s important that you build a relationship with these customers.
The team at HeadBox has nurtured relationships with hundreds of global blue-chip companies who use HeadBox Business (our Strategy Meetings Management Provider) to manage their entire company meeting and event spend. In doing so, we’ve identified some key processes to follow in order to provide a good service to our clients which in turn benefits our business.
Selling to corporates can be a long and arduous process. The sales pipeline is often a lot more complicated, involves a lot more people, and can take months. We’ve put together a guide giving you all the pro tips you need for selling to large corporate clients.
1. How to find and approach potential clients
Identifying the right corporate decision makers is the first and probably the most important step in the sales cycle. If you can’t find the right contacts or people to talk to then the rest of the process will quickly become redundant.
Knowing your companies target audience is imperative in ensuring a successful sale. For you as venues that might be event planners, PAs or EAs. Whoever you are targeting, ensure you and the rest of your team are on the same page. At HeadBox, we identify corporate decision makers in 4 main ways:
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is an incredibly powerful tool for prospecting. It enables you to see everyone that has viewed your profile and to send InMail to connect with prospects who are unlikely to reply to an email. The power of this platform has helped us to land some of the biggest meetings in HeadBox’s history!
Cold calling is the most effective way of retrieving information and discovering ‘pain points’ that you can sell against. Often it can be effective to speak to more junior members of a team first to understand the lay of the land, and then target more senior stakeholders once you have enough knowledge of their current set-up.
At HeadBox our Marketing team produce lots of amazing sales collateral for the commercial teams to send to their prospects. This content includes one-pagers, factsheets, rate cards, and case studies. It’s very important that your sales and marketing teams are aligned so that you put your best foot forward when you speak to stakeholders, and you stand out from any competitors who have already approached your prospects.
Organising engaging events for your prospects is another fantastic way to meet potential customers in a more informal environment. Events give you a chance to have a more casual chat about what they do day to day and what their set-up is like. It’s the fastest way to break down barriers and understand your prospects at a deeper level. They’ll be much more likely to say yes next time you ask for a meeting.
You’ve undoubtedly hosted your fair share of showcase events, inviting lots of contacts from lots of companies to explore your venue. For a more personal approach, why not try to offer your spaces for the evening to a team within one company? That way you can really build a relationship with contacts who might actually book.
Pro Tip: It’s important that during these events you don’t oversell too heavily at the beginning. It’s vital that, after a long day at work, you give attendees a chance to relax before you go in with the sell.
Now you’ve identified and approached some new prospects, what is the best way to win business and seal the deal? First of all, you’ll need clear timelines.
2. Why are timelines so important in sales?
Timelines are the most important part of a sales process. You’d be surprised just how often timelines are missing from a sales process, and you’ll be all too familiar with the disappointing result, in your capacity as a salesperson, a customer, or even as a colleague.
Whether you’re diarising a follow-up meeting or a follow-up call to check in, even an email, it’s imperative that you give a timeline to your customer and you stick to it. Get agreement from your customer on how long they will take to make a decision and what steps will need to be taken along the way.
Once you have agreed on a timeline with the person you’re selling to, they have committed to the process and will be less likely to “go cold”.
I’m sure you’ve all been there (I know I have) when you forgot to diarise a follow up call. A couple of days go by and you remember to call them, then you email them a few times and you realise you’re that salesperson who forgot to set a timeline…
Perhaps you’re great at qualifying a new opportunity and you’re great at site visits, but after that point in your sales process things tend to go cold or drop off.
Diarising the timeline:
Follow up with a diary invite including the following:
- The location of the meeting or the phone number or website link for the call
- The agenda for the call
- State again the result that you are looking for
- Discuss the package you wish to proceed with
- Confirm the payment terms of your package
- Confirm what the process is for contract signature and the timeline for contract signature
This should help you keep your sale on track and prevent unnecessary confusion and delays to your sales process.
3. Why did your lead go cold after a site visit?
It may be because you haven’t agreed a timeline and you haven’t asked the right questions.
Imagine, you’ve shown someone around your venue and told them all about the amazing facilities and add-ons. The customer has given you every indication that they love your venue and they will be moving ahead planning their event with you.
To ensure that you ask the right questions and define timelines at any and all stages of the sales process, we recommend that venues use the WIPR method. WIPR stands for:
“Great, well before you go, can I just ask…?”
W – Who is involved in the decision-making process?
I – What information is required for you to reach your decision? (Make sure you provide it!)
P – What does the decision-making process look like on your side? What are the steps in your process and how long does the process take?
R – Clearly communicate the desired result you are looking for at the call or meeting you are booking, no matter what stage of the sales process you’re at.
4. How important is buoyancy in the sales process?
“We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action.” – Dr Henry Link
Buoyancy is the idea about creating rational optimism by asking yourself the 3 Ps:
- Is this “No” Permanent?
- No means not now. Selling to corporates is often a long process which means just because they say no at first it doesn’t mean it’s a permanent no, you might have caught them on a bad day, or they might have to speak to their boss first
- Is this “No:” Pervasive?
- No. Not everyone will feel the same as this particular client. There may even be different people in the same company who would say yes
- Just because one person says no, does that reflect the thoughts of the entire company
- Is this “No” Personal?
- Almost certainly not. It’s highly unlikely that you will do anything on a cold call that would make someone say no as a result of you personally
I’ve been fortunate enough to close some monumental deals with some of the biggest clients in HeadBox history. Although my role at HeadBox is primarily selling software, I’m confident that these techniques will be useful for any venue hoping to win more business from large corporate companies.
So, they are my tips for selling to corporates. Following a strict schedule is important and remember don’t forget those critical timelines.