This post by guest blogger Aydin Mirzaee appears as part of our series Small Business 500.
Richard Branson once said: “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” Successful small businesses and startups persevere through discouragement and step outside their comfort zones. This was the case for Aydin Mirzaee, the CEO of FluidSurveys.com, a leading online survey tool and form builder. Founded in 2008, FluidSurveys.com faced stiff competition from thousands of established survey tools, including market leader SurveyMonkey. Despite this, FluidSurveys.com grew to become one of Canada’s top survey software providers, used in over 50 countries by governments, educational institutions, Fortune 500 companies and other large organizations. Aydin’s ability to sell to large organizations contributed significantly to FluidSurveys.com’s early success. Here are five tips Aydin has to share from his experience that can help small businesses sell to large organizations:
1. Acquire customer testimonials early on
Large organizations can be skeptical about buying from a small business. Acquiring and promoting positive testimonials from beta customers involved in the product development phase is an excellent way to validate the product and the company in the eyes of large organizations.
2. Try a pilot project
Pilot projects are popular with large organizations. FluidSurveys.com regularly performs pilot projects with large organizations with many successful sales as a result. As Aydin notes, “Get the targeted organization on a reduced rate pilot project and have them use your product for six months to a year. After that, why wouldn’t they buy from you instead of the competition? They are already familiar with you and your work at that point.”
3. Understand the buying process
In large organizations, the product user will not necessarily be the purchaser. In B2B sales especially, several people factor in the buying process: initiators, users, influencers, gatekeepers, and deciders. When contacting a large company, understand the role of your main contact. While they may not be the decision maker, they may be a key influencer as to whether or not your product is purchased.
4. Pitch your product or service directly
Pitch directly to as many stakeholders as possible – if they hear the pitch from you, you can be confident they received the right information. For example, Aydin would often speak to the IT managers as well as the decision makers. Large organizations care about central management: they want to control the product themselves, rather than having you continually come into the company. In the case of FluidSurveys.com, the IT department was a key influencer in many buying decisions, since they had expertise with software products.
5. Consider tiered pricing
Landing sales with large organizations requires an effective pricing strategy. If you’re priced too high, you might lose a bid to the competition. If you’re priced too low, prospects may not value the product. Tiered pricing tends to work best for large organizations because their requirements may vary. For example, access for the first 100 users may cost $200/year and the next 100 users may cost $150/year. Give the impression that you are not coming up with pricing on the spot – think this through carefully and strategically. Large organizations need all the numbers to plan for budgetary concerns, so prepare this information before you initiate a conversation with a potential client.
Finally, work to address the concerns of large organizations before they even ask. This sales tactic demonstrates your previous experience and builds trust. Using these tips has helped Aydin double the FluidSurveys.com staff, users and revenue in just six months.
Aydin Mirzaee is the CEO of FluidSurveys.com, an online survey maker used in over 40 countries. It is easy to build online surveys, forms, polls, quizzes and of course web-based questionnaires for free. FluidSurveys also helps people create online surveys and web forms to collect and analyze data.
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