Monday, November 07, 2005

The Right Size Pond

Terrific article in today’s Boston Globe about the perils of being a small IT company trying to sell to the big dogs. It seems everyone is trying the same thing: pitch the CIO’s office on a full-scale deployment of a new product or service. Unfortunately, it rarely works…but that doesn’t stop the aggressive sales professional from trying to bag the elephant.

Big companies are reluctant to bet the farm on an emerging vendor – the risks of them going out of business are too great, 24x7 service is dubious, and the product is often not fully baked.

At the end of the day, a startup needs to do two things:

1) sprinkle the infield with smaller deals at midsized enterprises (hospitals, law firms, colleges, cities and towns, etc.), and

2) make it easy for the big fish to do business with you – put a low-risk pilot offer in front of them, or guarantee their satisfaction with a money-back offer within 60 days.

Delivering your first 5 Fortune-500 customers takes creativity, chutzpah and most of all patience. The good news is that it can be done, but if you’re looking for 5 million-dollar orders out of the gate, you might be waiting a long time.


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