It helped that I won the Pitch Competition at the recent Ohio River Valley Women’s Business Council (ORV-WBC) Catch the Wave Conference in Louisville, KY, but that’s not the only reason I go to this event every year. My time with other woman professionals at this event is always time well spent. Having the opportunity to get out of the office and share learnings and knowledge refreshes the soul. I'd like to share some insight on a topic that surfaced a few times.
Each year, this event brings together over 350 woman professionals to network, learn and inspire one another. It never ceases to amaze me how much I gain from the many wonderful discussions and the palpable energy. Here are five big takeaways that challenge my thinking and are forcing positive change both personally and professionally:
1. Large companies enjoy working with smaller organizations because we’re agile, creative and get stuff done.
This caused me to pause and review a success we had for one of our large corporate clients. I pulled together statistics on our lead generation efforts and how we were able to measure wins for their sales pipeline. Our success enabled their sales team to focus on quality leads with real dollar value that extended into the millions. It's on me to communicate clearly, promote our services to other similar enterprise organizations and grow my own sales funnel.
2. Working with large corporations requires you to be prepared to work within the complexity of corporate processes.
You are not alone. Navigating a large organization requires support. Once you begin to engage you'll have to sign a Master Service Agreement. They’re complex and that can be daunting, so don’t go this alone. Have your advisors and or an attorney look at these with you. At first glance, it may seem impossible to work within corporate boundaries, but I’ve had to work through several of these documents. There’s always room for compromise. Through careful negotiation, a mutually-beneficial agreement can be reached.
3. Never underestimate the power of a great suggestion.
Small companies bring fresh eyes and new ideas. Trust your instincts and be confident in what you bring to the table. Our insights were invaluable in a recent win. Writing the proposal forced me to dig deep and understand all that we could provide to give this customer exactly what they were looking for. In this case, it was creating a pilot program to test an individual campaign, then help launch a turnkey campaign to the larger organization. Wording your offering to appeal to corporate need requires some creativity and tweaking, however buyers know that small businesses can offer the missing link that so many large corporations are seeking.
4. Be concise in your messaging and be prepared to repeat it until it’s absorbed.
According to Supplier Connection, it can take up to three years to engage with a corporation. This requires patience. Stay in touch on a regular basis and continue to promote how you’ll be a game changer. If you’re consistent in your message and with your outreach, over time you’ll see results.
5. Relationships are still everything.
Creating rapport and trust within the corporate bubble will always require connections. Never underestimate first impressions with any associate in a corporation. You’ll undoubtedly need some help getting to the C-suite and the connections you meet along the way are key to your success. They understand the nuts and bolts of the business and can help you hone your offering to appeal to the decision makers.
Don’t underestimate the contribution your small business can make to a large corporation. Small businesses adapt quickly, help corporations test ideas and can be the conduit for change on a large scale.