I have had way too many calls lately with my investors where we are talking about the same thing. We are chatting about how well the company is starting to do and how it is all “finally coming together”. It is, but there is so much work to do and it has taken a looooong time.
My COO and I have been working non-stop along with tech and client support to get many clients live. Each time we think a really big company is ready to go and start testing, they delay. We had a company call us today that was to go live this past April then June then August then November, tell us that testing did not start last night because there was a problem with another client and they had to shift resources. Big enterprise clients always have something more important it seems.
Imagine you are in a relationship and you desperately want to hear that the other person is really into you and for nine months, every day they come home and start to tell you how they feel only to stop talking and you never know. Your head would explode. This is much worse.
I have learned the difference between when things are delayed and when things are not going to happen. When you are dealing with a large company whom you are working with, here are the three things that you have to see if you are really going to ever launch.
You have an advocate at the right level.
Anytime you sell into a large company, you have to have an advocate. They also need to have enough juice to make shit happen. An advocate at the wrong level or one that is not effective will be worse than not having one. If your advocate is someone who wants to get projects live but does not really ever accomplish it, they will churn you for months or more. When I meet an advocate, I always ask early on, “What other products have you been able to implement where you were the lead in the past three years?” This will tell you everything. Then, before you pitch the advocate, research the shit out of those projects. Research your advocate also. In the
Make sure you know if they are effective in launching products and with what types of products. If the only products they get
You can pass due diligence
I think so few
Due diligence is easy to gauge. I will usually find and talk to a partner of the company I am trying to sell. I ask to speak to the head of business development. I want to understand what his frustrations were as they went through the process.
As Bob the Builder says, “Measure twice and cut once”. Do you work upfront.
Manage the process by asking for updates A LOT and watch how they are communicated back to you
Here is the crucial part. Let’s assume we have a contract and we passed due diligence. The next step is going live. How do people communicate with you? Are you doing weekly calls to monitor progress? Are they asking the “right” questions; ones that are real. API questions, etc. Too many big companies take too long because they are asking the wrong questions. They are ususally asking the questions they would ask big companies. We are small, but we have a lot of big company experience, so we can interpret well.
“Engaging questions” are so important as it keeps the project going along. All twelve new clients we launched this year had a sales cycle of more than one year. It takes time to get them live, but once you do, they are not going anywhere unless you mess up. Don’t mess up!
I love enterprise sales. It is harder to do, but worth it. It also has the benefit of being capital efficient because if Billaway went direct to consumer, we would have had to raise a lot more money than we did. The key to success in doing it is to do the work before the sale and make sure you look deeply into your communication with the client. They will tell you what is happening, but likely not directly.
Hope this helps and happy selling!