Tips for startups selling into large businesses | Industry

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In today's tech industry, the collaboration between and large firms is a growing trend.

According to KPMG's 2018 Global CEO Outlook 61 percent of CEOs in Britain are planning to partner with startups to boost innovation in their organisations.


Although the idea of software and services to the enterprise might seem challenging, intimidating, or both, the benefits are potentially huge, from visibility to new customers to name-brand references and word of mouth marketing.

The important thing is to have a defined strategy to follow and a good idea of the requirements an enterprise will have when it comes to software procurement.

Take Kasko, a UK-based insurtech startup that uses white labelling to help insurance companies create digital products on its platform in exchange for access to customers and data.

“That's what we do right now and our goal is to create a marketplace where insurance companies and ecosystems can exchange insurance cover for customer access and data,” Nikolaus Suehr, CEO at Kasko told Techworld.

Read next: How to build an insurtech startup: Tips from insurance expert

Identify your buyer

It is important to know your buyer well and sell to the right person. Large organisations have multiple divisions, subdivisions and then teams within those, so identifying the best person in the most relevant department is vital.

“As of now we almost always exclusively sell to product managers, so it's really important to identify your buyer and understand their problems, because in a large organisation there are different departments and interests within that organisation and we need to understand who has the biggest pain point and a willingness to pay, with the authority to make it sell,” Suehr said. 

“We always try to sell directly to product managers because they have an idea of the problem, IT also has a problem but they can also mediate because they have their own priorities and they just need to buy and manage software, so we sell directly to the customer with the problem,” he added.

Although the startup is only likely to be in communication with the direct buyer, it's worth considering who the buyer has to persuade to get the go-ahead.

This could go right up the chain to CEO or CFO, so pitch your proposition in a way that will appeal to the whole organisation – and with a clear solution to their problem in mind.

Problem solving

It is one thing to claim that your product or service is the best, but it's another to ensure that whatever you are selling can solve a specific problem that an organisation has, and then being able to prove that in action.

Large organisations that want to work with startups will almost certainly be looking for innovative technology and lateral-thinking talent.

It is a good idea to understand where your service will fit in, not to mention being crystal clear on understand the legal requirements from firm-to-firm.

”The reason why things take so long with corporates is because so many people talk about it, there are so many compromises and they want to build the perfect solution which just takes really long,” Suehr says.

“You need to look into procurement, so this means that you need to be able to differentiate yourself from potential competitors and talk about a cancellation period, payment and pricing.

“Then you need to go through legal documents and you need to figure out what the business, particularly with your technology, is going to do. So is it just that person or are there other entities such as sales and operations and will they interact with the software?”

Real-world use cases

An example of your technology running successfully in the wild is vital. Bring these to the table and make sure they are relatable to the firm.

“One could be creating a new product or digitising an existing product. You may be given a broad range of possible problems that they might have, so don't go into too much specifics,” Suehr said.

Also it is important to be clear and up front about the costs, so they can go through their previous cases and see what would work for them.

This means having some intellectual property protection in place. 

Suehr added: “You need to be very clear in the contract of whether you provide a service, if so then the IP is yours. Or do you provide a fully functional thing where you provide the code to them and they just pay you to build something for them, which will also work.”

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