In this episode, Richard and Kimon interview each other about B2B sales, also known as enterprise sales. These days, many businesses are considering how they can incorporate AI technology to boost sales, but when dealing with large enterprise clients, nothing beats the value of building personal relationships.
B2B sales are generally bigger in scale compared to consumer sales (B2C), requiring more investment per transaction. It's crucial to understand your clients not only on a personal level but also when it comes to their current and potential future needs within the broader market.
Large B2B transactions almost always involve a lengthy onboarding process. It's essential to have at least three strong references from current or former clients. Without a positive track record with past clients, it becomes nearly impossible to attract new clients. If your company is new and lacks a client base, you may need to offer services at a significant discount or even for free. This can create goodwill that will pay off in the long run.
Even if your company doesn't secure the contract, it's still valuable to have your name considered. The company chosen by the enterprise client may not endure in the long term. Being proactive in pursuing these opportunities and maintaining a cordial attitude when a deal doesn't go through is the best approach. As Kimon consistently emphasizes: "We're always playing the long game."
Later in their discussion, Richard and Kimon delve into the process of comprehensively understanding a client. Having a thorough grasp of a client's needs and their relationships with other companies can lead to new potential clients. Mapping out these details can also uncover new efficiencies. When mapping, it's important to consider the lifetime value of a client, including potential renewals, service expansions, and referrals to other companies. Satisfied clients often bring more clients.
The role of the founder/CEO in selling to enterprise clients is another topic explored by Kimon and Richard. Especially in the early stages of a company, before establishing a reputation, the active involvement of the founder and/or CEO is crucial in the sales process. Their presence demonstrates a commitment to transparency and client support.
Some people believe that a large sales team is necessary to win clients, but as Kimon points out, "bigger sales team = bigger headache." Having a few exceptional salespeople is more important than the team's size. In the B2B context, where there are fewer sales opportunities, a smaller team can be just as effective.
Towards the end of their conversation, Richard and Kimon discuss what makes a sales call effective. Richard advises immediately asking potential clients about their specific needs. This enables tailoring the sales pitch directly to their requirements, avoiding lengthy presentations filled with irrelevant information.
In conclusion, a valuable approach to improving enterprise sales is studying the histories of other companies. By examining who their first client was, how they secured major business deals, and what innovative strategies they employed, valuable insights can be gained.
Richard Lucas is a business and social entrepreneur who founded, led and/or invested in more than 30 businesses.
Kimon Fountoukidis is the founder of both Argos Multilingual and PMR. Both companies were founded in the mid 90s with zero capital and both have gone on to become market leaders in their respective sectors. Kimon was born in New York and moved to Krakow, Poland in 1993. Listen to his story here.