Similarities of Scale

Your first big break may come from a large firm. Indeed they may have underwritten your project. However, if that's the case, it is an exception. Big firms generally prefer to buy from others like themselves. They can at least obtain compensation if all else fails. Confidence is the biggest factor. Big firms feel that others of a similar size are equally successful and will share similar views and values. This doesn't mean that big firms don't buy from smaller firms—they have to—but they typically buy smaller, fewer, and less significant products. So if you're a four-man band trying to sell a $50,000 accounting product to Mega Bucks, Inc., don't expect an undeserved break.

If you have a realistic proposition, targeting big firms makes sense in principle, but just because they turned over $1 billion last year doesn't mean they're going to give it all to you tomorrow. Be careful. Large firms are very good at wasting your time and dragging out the sales process or dangling tempting morsels for you on an endless basis.

Also remember that salespeople can be seduced by the rewards offered by big players. No salesperson would be accused of wasting time if he spent a year trying to sell to IBM. However, he would probably get fired if he squandered an entire month on a little known outfit.

Put yourself in the shoes of someone working for a large firm and look at it from his perspective. Every decision you make puts your job on the line, so understandably, you can't afford to stick your neck out. What you really want is a cast iron guarantee that the software will work satisfactorily, and make you look good.

So before you embark on the journey, think through the costs, extended sales cycles, and implications of selling to large firms initially.

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