Beyond the Pitch

Signing up Corporate Customers: MentorcliQ Tells It Like It Is at June Founders’ Lunch

Customers

There’s no better source of information and inspiration about what it takes for a startup to sell corporate customers than to hear directly from two entrepreneur-founders who are right in the thick of it, closing B2B sales.

Andy and Phil George, brothers and co-founders of MentorcliQ, a young, mentoring software technology company, have developed successful business relationships with corporate clients such as Cardinal Health, Battelle, and GE.

Andy and Phil led a lively discussion at Rev1’s June Founders’ Lunch packed with actionable tips for.

Founders Lunch Popout-01

1. Getting an introduction in Columbus is easy, but is it the right person?

The purchasing process is different in every company. Navigating and closing a complex sale successfully requires getting agreement and commitment from the 3 main personas in a complex sale—user, decision-maker, and buyer.

The user wants the details of how your product works. The decision-maker wants to know that the user has vetted your solution and that it solves a problem. The buyer (whose budget will pay for your sale) must be convinced that your value proposition is sound—either your solution reduces costs or increases revenue.

2. The corporate world moves slowly, and they get to set the pace of the dance—not you.

Three months is a lifetime to a startup. Three months is a blink to a corporation. Everything takes longer in Fortune 1000 companies—setting appointments, getting meetings, responding to proposals, making decisions, and negotiating contracts.

This reality isn’t going to change, but there are things an entrepreneur can do to not make it harder to close a deal.

  • Take a consultative approach.

Learn as much as you can about your customer’s business. Map the decision-making/purchasing process. Get to know the real people behind those personas.

  • Break the purchasing process down.

    Create a milestone that you can accomplish with someone in person, in the customer’s purchasing process every week.

  • Be confident of yourself and your solution.

    You and your startup are not IBM. There’s a real risk to any corporation that does business with you.

On the other hand, your solution is solving a problem that’s so important to that corporate client, that they are willing to take that risk. The problem that you are proposing to solve may be so pressing, that the potential client might feel that have nothing to lose.

This is where a pilot program comes in. A pilot helps you and your corporate client work out the kinks. And there will be kinks. Pilots can help solidify your relationship—giving you a common goal and a shared vested interest in success.

At Rev1, we are serious about helping startups gain their first customer. MentorcliQ has put that Backyard Effect to work.

“The backyard effect isn’t just conceptual,” Phil George said, “it’s real. Way back at our first pitch at WakeupStartup we connected with a sales professional at a high growth company. She looked confused but let me ramble. Two months later, she emailed me about our program, and 12 months later we signed a contract with them.”

The takeaway—share your ideas. There’s a benefit to having so many Fortune 1000 companies in the Ohio region. If you can get one to purchase your product, as MentorcliQ has found, it will vet your product for other companies.

“The sales cycle gets exponentially shorter, the more customers you have,” Andy George said. “It’s those first one, two, or three customers that are so hard to get. The most important thing a startup can do in the beginning is make a sale. Convincing someone to step up and write a check means everything.”

Want to learn more about using the Backyard Effect to get your startups first one, two, or three customers? Contact us.

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MentorcliQ (Phil George) is featured in Andrew Berkowitz’ new 5 Star-rated podcast, Global Startup Movement under Columbus, Ohio – Phil George.

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