If you’re about to start working with a larger company keep these B2B tips in mind.
1. Don’t over-promise
Many small businesses are tempted to go beyond their core competencies to win a big contract. Avoid that if you can. Focus on delivering only the things you do really well. If a prospective client asks you for related products or services that would overextend you, suggest they bring in additional vendors.
2. Be prepared to adopt their systems
You’ll probably need to change the way you work to fit with your client’s internal systems. This can take many different forms. For example, you may have to:
adopt a house style for writing and formatting documents
use specific types of software
layout your invoices in a certain way
3. Know who your client’s key people are
Big B2B companies have a lot of people. Some of them will help you and others will hinder you. It’s important to know:
the decision makers
Try drawing them on a chart so you have a general idea of how they all relate to one another, and to you. Use LinkedIn to help you. Or you may be able to ask your client for an org chart. You don’t want to play their corporate politics, but you should be aware of them.
4. Aim for quarterly projects
Retainer agreements are great for security and cashflow. They’ll give you the confidence to make permanent hires and genuinely grow your business. But you might want to start off by pitching short-term projects. This will make it easier for your client to get sign-off from their managers. Once you’re in the system, you’ll see other things you could do for their business and you can pitch extra pieces of work.
5. Present yourself in force
When meeting with prospective or new clients, consider bringing additional members of your team along. This shows that your company is more than a one-person organisation. It may seem contrived but the headcount can be reassuring. Just don’t overdo it.
6. Communicate regularly and thoughtfully
Regular communication is an important B2B tip for all your clients. Find out what works best for them. Do they want details about everything or a short overview of current work? Being a proactive communicator shows you’re committed to the project, and their success. This can also be your opportunity to think outside the scope of your current project and offer fresh ideas for new work.
7. Monitor your financials
Make sure you have your financial information at your fingertips. Your big clients will probably have to do due diligence before hiring you, so there may be credit checks or questions around your liquidity. They’ll want to make sure you can keep delivering when things get busy.
8. Keep your branding and communications consistent
People in big corporations generally see polished presentations, marketing collateral and stationery. Your materials don’t have to be quite as slick as that, but make sure they’re tidy, consistent and professional.
9. Get ready to be scrutinized
Even though you’re a small business, you should understand the big business mentality. Be prepared for:
a lot of people to be involved in reviewing and approving your work
longer decision-making processes
more formal ways of meeting and discussing work
constant evaluation and re-evaluation of the projects you’re working on
10. Think about your cashflow
Payment terms are a big B2B issue that often gets overlooked. While the revenue of a big contract promises all sorts of financial security, there may be short-term pain. Big companies will probably ignore your payment terms and settle bills in their own good time. It can take a while.
Your cashflow will suffer when you first start working for them. Consider exploring finance options for the first few months, until you’ve adjusted to the payment cycle.
Your large clients may also have very specific requirements as to how you format invoices, what details you include, and who they’re delivered to. Spend the time to get these details right because, if your invoice is rejected, it may delay payment by weeks.
11. Never forget the clients that got you here
A big B2B client can soak up a lot of your resources but don’t neglect your bread-and-butter accounts. They still deserve your loyalty. You might have to spend some money on overtime or part-time help to meet all your obligations at the beginning. Be prepared for plenty of hard work.
Working with big companies is a natural part of growing your business
Landing a big new client can bring in a significant amount of revenue but it can also cause a lot of upheaval. You’ll probably need extra resources to service the account, so your spend will go up. Meanwhile, you’ll have to wait longer to get paid. Plus the speed at which you can work will initially go down, as you adjust to your client’s processes. It’s not an easy transition but there’s a reason so many small businesses want to land big clients.
And whatever you do, remember that your clients – big and small – picked your business for a reason. Be confident in what you can do. Hold onto your small business roots. Be honest, upfront and give them the personal touch they simply don’t get from big corporates.
Need help in accessing your resources and get ready to take on big client companies? Get in touch with us