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Strategies for reaching CXO decision makers?

What strategies are effective in getting your product/service in front of companies you've identified as great potential partners?

For example, you developed a software that does XYZ, you see Google already does XYZ really well, and Amazon has a weak version of XYZ competing with Google's XYZ, and you are confident your version of XYZ can help Amazon compete/win market share from Google around the XYZ space, how do you find a) who to approach at Amazon and b) get that persons's/team's/department's attention and c) what strategy(s) to follow once you do have their attention?

7 Replies

Rob Gropper
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Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
you need to add a sales person to your team. This person needs to have experience (as much as you can afford) selling software/SaaS to enterprise customers and preferably to the same companies you are targeting. When selling to the enterprise relationships matter, a lot, and strategic selling experience matters... a lot. All large companies do a build/buy analysis, but you should anticipate that Amazon will be a particularly tough nut to crack in this regard - as you can see they like to 'roll their own' so convincing them to buy from you rather than build their own will be challenging. The process details will depend somewhat on what your tech does, who it benefits, where it fits strategically within the org., the prospect's view of their competitive position, budget (Amazon is notoriously frugal) and a few hundred other details. Not to sound flippant, but the answer to your question is somewhat tantamount to answering: "so, i took CS 101 15 years ago in college and i built my own blog, now i want to build an enterprise-scale CRM SaaS application - what's the best way to do that"? As you well know there is no simple answer, but the best answer is 'get some experienced help'.
Eugene Gekhter
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Eugene Gekhter Entrepreneur
CEO, Memorable. Founder, SharePay.
@Rob everybody at one point in their lives did not know how to do something that they are now considered an expert in, yourself included.

The question is directed more at how do you reach the right person?
Do you have luck reaching out on LinkedIn using their search filters?
Do you profile potential companies that might buy your company and establish a relationship with the CMO/COO/CEO to get a conversion going?
How do you work the process in a virtual world?
Do you insist on getting the person on the phone, even if the receptionist says they prefer email?

Lawrence I Lerner
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Lawrence I Lerner Entrepreneur • Advisor
Digitalization and Transformation Coach
Eugene, good question. It's one we all face as we start new businesses.

A lot of the information is public information. Start with their company website. Find the most relevant person in organization for your product. From there:
  • LinkedIn is a great source
  • Check your personal network you might be surprised
  • Send out a more general request here. Again you might be surprised
Some food for thought. You don't always need to go through the front door. Try getting an introduction from some you both know. Have a relevant piece of thought leadership that starts with an interesting question. They'll let you know when they want to hear a pitch. BTW, it may be better notto start at the top. That way, if it doesn't work out you'll have someplace else to go.

If you do need to go in without an introduction, try to keep it simple, interesting/entertaining (for them) and something that reinforces your brand. Here's a "Rule of Three" that may be useful to you.

Cheers
Jeff Masud
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Jeff Masud Entrepreneur
Founder of Sudjam LLC & CTO / Partner of Noble Mouse
Unsubscribe -- Jeff Masud Sudjam, LLC [removed to protect privacy] x107 [removed to protect privacy] Mobile [removed to protect privacy]
André Panné
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André Panné Entrepreneur
Partner Information and Communication at Intergroup Partners
That's exactly the point in time you need to hire a senior business developer who has proven access to the companies you want to get into. Pay him or her some fix rate (otherwise they are not really investing time for you) and add some variable, success based component and give them a clear target and deadline. That's it. Good luck! Andre Von meinem iPad gesendet
Stephen Campbell, PMP
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Project Management Professional
I was in corporate sales with the pioneer and global leader of corporate housing, Oakwood.com and we were the nation's best sales team in the National Capital Region. I acquired a LOT of tips and tools that helped me. There really isn't a one size fits all solution to getting the information you're desiring. One that gave me a lot of momentum on finding the right prospect was SalesForce.com's contact database. They really have cornered the market on this valuable information, and even partnered with D&B for very specific quality leads. But they are indeed costly.

Relationships are king, and I agree with the comments before me in that you should absolutely work your network 1st, beginning with LinkedIn and do a search for Amazon. Also, people are a lot more willing to share who the right contacts are if they've left the organization so try to key in on that as well. You need a campaign, a CRM, some sales skills and/or hires and a solid pitch for XYZ.

There are OODLES of resources to help you, but I can give you some friendly advice (and even share my contacts in SalesForce) if you'd like. I offer FounderDating members my contacts for free. SalesForce values them at over $3,600 per year, which is ridiculous!


Rob Gropper
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Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
Eugene; you are right, we all start somewhere. If i were to embark today on building an enterprise-class business app. i would not do it on my own (and i used to write code once upon a time and i used to sell SW to big companies once upon a time). I'm sure i could learn, but at what cost? On the other hand if i want to learn or i like the challenge, that's another story. I would recommend that you start by reading "Strategic Selling" (they have web resources too) by Miller and Heiman. It is still considered the 'gold standard' in enterprise selling. I mention this because there are some questions you will want to answer before the questions you are asking here: "how do i reach the right person", "how do you work the process", "do you insist on...". There aren't simple answers. It's like asking "what database should i use"? well, that depends. same here. For example, to answer "how do you reach the right person"? among the many answers is: 1) when selling tech to enterprise customers there are always several "right" people and a lot of wrong ones. They all have their roles in the buying process (economic buyers, technical buyers, user buyers, executive sponsors, coaches, etc.). The conversation and strategy you have with each will be different depending on their role: the economic buyer isn't going to care about the tech your application is built on, s/he wants to know the economic impacts, budget impacts, if it is not in their budget do they expense it or capitalize it or draw from a slush fund, etc. Does this help generate revenue or reduce costs? The technical buyer wants to know all about the technology, architecture, security, etc. so they can find reasons to screen you out ("it doesn't fit with our tech road map, we don't have resources to support it, etc.). The exec sponsor (which you need to develop because there isn't one now) what's to know how they can use it to strategic advantage (as you mentioned) and how it will help him/her get promoted (and avoid looking bad if the project goes sideways). The purchasing department wants to control everything so they teach all the managers to dish everyone to them - you do not want to deal with purchasing, but you do need to keep them appeased. The IT guys want to be sure that you and everyone else in the company knows that they are smarter than you so they will want to constantly challenge your technical chops. I could go on. The point is you have to back up and address some prerequisites so you can consider who the right people might be and how you will handle things when you reach them. You are selling technology and you are a technology guy so your natural tendency will be to talk to people you are comfortable with (technical people), but i would suggest not starting there. i would identify the business/product groups that might have a logical fit with your app. In a company the size of Amazon there are likely more than one. i might look for product owners/mgrs or sales or business development people who work in those groups - the sales people and/or biz dev (I suspect Amazon has biz dev but not sales). These are people who are on the font lines every day trying to beat their competitors and they could give you some interesting insights and answers. I would then identify someone who no longer works at Amazon who can give you some personal pointers about these product/biz dev/sales managers - how they work, personalities, strategic do's and don'ts, what's important, best way to reach them, etc. If you are looking at them buying your company that's an entirely different discussion with different strategies. LinkedIN is a good place to identify contacts, but first i would lay out a plan for each of the buying influences you need to sell to so you can then understand who to look for and what their personal wins might be - personal wins are important. Your technology may make perfect sense to you, but the final decision will come down to personal wins for each buying influence. And if Jeff likes you, you are still not guaranteed a sale, but your chances just jot a whole lot better. good luck.
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