I've just responded to the third request this week to review a product or service offering provided by small and medium-sized FinTechs and an IT startup. I hate not responding to these requests, I genuinely want to help these entrepreneurial firms, but I have to stick to my rule of attempting to automate or reuse anything I do after the third repetition. This post, therefore, is for anyone considering or having already messaged me, with the intention of offering products and services. I sincerely wish you all every success in your enterprise and I hope this posts saves us both time and makes you more money.
Global Banks, just like any other global enterprise, have clearly defined processes for procurement. These processes attempt to minimise the cost and risks of dealing with vendors. The efficiency and efficacy of supplier and vendor management vary greatly from one corporation to the next, but in my experience, as an IT specialist, not an administrator, it can take anywhere between six weeks and six months to onboard a new vendor. In order for the vendor to become an accredited or certified supplier they have to meet a set of pretty standard criteria such as: does the vendor provide products and services that are not provided by existing vendors, fair costs, capability to support product and services, etc. Vendor onboarding checklists can be found easily on the Web.
Assuming that I am actually aware of a demand for the products and services you are offering I still won't be able to pursue engagement with our firm in any official capacity and even if I could the chances are that I wouldn't have a business case, value proposition or budget that could fund the engagement. Given all of these constraints you can see that cold contacting me is probably not going to yield any fruitful results for you. So what are your supposed to do?
Large enterprises have to plan their budgets and projects months in advance. It is normally at this time of year, the autumn, during conference season that we send out senior managers and techies to go industry events and identify interesting technologies or find ideas for products and services. Having a presence at these events is essential, you'll meet the right people, at the right time, to plan a proof of concept, define a pilot and finally execute a project.
Don't underestimate the benefits of regularly organising or attending local events. These can be a highly targeted opportunity to gather market intelligence and make the contacts you need to efficiently position your product and make a sale. It will take time but the more you invest in local events the greater the returns over time. On that note, if you are based in London and feel lucky, you can attempt to pitch me at RantCon16.
Another avenue is to get your product into a technology accelerator. The accelerators generally do the hard work of sifting through technology offerings and presenting us with a targeted listed of vendors that they believe we would be interested in based on the requirements we provide to them. There are now tens of reputable accelerators sponsored by Banks and other big businesses specifically to aid small companies to sell into big businesses.
Gartner, 451 Research, and Forrester: three research providers that are commonly used in executive decision making, including technology selection. Make sure your technology is well understood by their analysts and take their reviews seriously. If your technology does not score highly in their professional opinion then you'll fail at first hurdle.
Asking Me If I Have Any Time for a Call?
I have a fair number of messages from LinkedIn asking me if a have time for a 'quick chat' or a 'call.' I probably do but please, please, please, indicate what it is you wish to speak to me about. I simply don't understand why these enquiries don't include a minimal explanation of the matter for discussion. There is no intrigue generated by the lack of subject matter, at least not for me or I assume anyone else that is busy. By not indicating what you wish to discuss I have to assume you are simply phishing and thus will not respond or, as I do now, will respond with a link to this blog post, which is fast becoming one of my most viewed ever.
I'm sure there is a myriad of approaches to sales, but coming from the buy side, I'm telling you the approaches that we prefer.