Corporates are increasingly looking beyond their companies and employees for innovation, especially when it comes to new and emerging technologies. Every corporate needs to adopt new technologies to survive. But with the speed at which technology is evolving, instead of creating solutions within the companies, large corporates look at collaborating with innovative startups that are already working to solve problems in the areas they operate in.
This is why several large companies tie up with incubators, invest in startups, and conduct hackathons to discover and collaborate with innovative startups.
And for any startup, bagging a large corporate as a client, or even collaborating and working with them is a huge boost to its revenues.
But how does a corporate think? How does one pitch to a large corporate?
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
First and foremost, spend a lot of time and energy preparing. You must be able to foresee every objection possible and have a ready-made answer. Do your homework – this includes knowing your problem, solution, how your product works exactly, facts and statistics via customers, how you plan on making money, what the market is, how you will go about marketing, key financials, and anything else you need to know.
Know Their Dress Code
Before you go to your 1st pitch, start by finding out what the company culture is like. Are they business casual, conservative suit and tie or do they wear t-shirts every day? The first impression a corporate client will have of your business is the way you dress to represent it.
If they’re suit and tie and you show up with messed hair and a t-shirt, what does that say about your business? Further, what does that say to your prospective client about how you feel about THEIR business? It’s all in the details. When in doubt, go business casual.
Know your audience
Before you approach a potential partner, buyer or investor, it’s vital to research the organization thoroughly and really understand their business. Find out about the individuals you will be pitching to and understand their expertise and interests so you can find the best way of explaining your project in terms that will appeal to them.
Tell a Story & Connect Emotionally
Presenting your pitch as a story makes it far more interesting to listen to. You should make an emotional connection with your audience; after all, people are people, and they tend to react emotionally, then rationalize and make decisions. Keep your cool, be sincere, be human and be positive – if you are visibly uncomfortable, it will make the audience uncomfortable also.
Prepare To Answer Tough Questions
Corporations are scoping out ways to lower in-house costs by outsourcing specific needs to entrepreneurs like you but they’re careful about who holds the keys to their castle. If they don’t see the deal being valuable for them over the long term or if they don’t think you’ll make it to next year, they will be hesitant to do business with you.
Alleviate this concern by being open about funding, what your goals are and how you see your product evolving over the next 2 years. Most companies are willing to give you a chance but they want reassurance that they’re making the right decision by seeing that you have all your ducks in a row.
Consider Alternative Licensing Models
This affects each industry differently but you should have an open mind to more than one licensing option for your product. Cost per user, per month seems to be a popular tech business model these days but it shouldn’t be your only model.
Taking it a step further, startups are getting better and better at tailoring their products to a niche. Explore alternative models like one-time cost licenses or an annual tick up (clearly outlined for your customer) of cost per user, per month, as you add more features.
Companies are receptive to the idea of “test driving” a service at a lower cost and you’ll get the benefit of that customer’s feedback as you build your product.
Be Receptive to Feedback & Changes
Your product is your baby. You probably couldn’t quantify the number of hours you’ve slogged through code, networking events and the like just to get your foot in the door.
Still, in the end, no product is flawless and you should be open to feedback and suggestions. You might find tailoring a product to a particular customer opens your business up to servicing their competitors as well.
Stay In Touch
Lastly, stay in touch. Most corporations don’t turn on a dime and decisions aren’t made overnight. Not even over 2 weeks or 2 months.
Look at it like this: if they operate on quarters (Q1-Q4), you have 4 opportunities to reengage them about your product each year. Use the time wisely and share new updates and enhancements you think they would like. Ask for feedback on ways to improve what you have.
Above all, start by building a relationship and then keep it going. Even if you don’t get their business, they might refer you to someone that does become a customer.