When you have product/market fit -> you’d do the ‘traditional’ thing – ie Gartner reviews, trade shows, marketing etc – All that requires big money – significant investment
The interesting part though is when you are in the early/seed stages – and that’s the hard problem to solve for. You are iterating, trying different things – perhaps testing different verticals.
The way we’ve solved that at Kormox is doing it through ‘insiders’ – we’d build a spreadsheet of target companies (say 300, focused on a specific vertical), then identify who we’d want to talk to (say, Johnnh Smith, CIO) – then, identify internal people in the company that have nothing to do with the CIO but you have a good change in getting 10 minutes of their time. We particularly used alumni networks – e.g. Wharton, McKinsey, Stanford GSB, etc etc.
Then you reach out to those insiders asking for 10 minutes of their time – not to sell anything, rather to get their advice/pick their brain on how you can reach out to relevant person to get opinions on your startup (you can mention you think Johnny Smith would be the right person).
It has worked really well for us. Typically those insiders would do an intro – and Johnny Smith would be happy to meet with you in that way.
We’ve been able to do this at scale pretty successfully.
We are building a knowledge management platform that complements Box.com. Box.com is providing solutions to SMBs as well as Fortune 500.
I am not sure where to get a list of SMBs that we can talk to – to get initial reviews & feedback. Will look around.
Again – thanks a lot for your advice.
Patio11 had a sort of talk on this recently, but I’ll recap what I think is perhaps the most relevant to this situation:
Start with ‘small enterprise’. If you have even one smallish company that you can get in the door in, use that as a resume booster for a slightly larger company, and keep parlaying that success, each time seeking a slightly bigger customer than the one you just landed.
As ams6110 mentioned, don’t expect a short sales cycle, and factor that into the cost of your product. Also, the sales process if VERY high touch. If it’s an expensive product, expect to have to schmooze clients with dinner and repeated meetings with growing audiences. Don’t mistake progressive meetings and schmoozing for progress. Do understand the cost of buying dinners and hiring sales people to chase one big customer for 6 months at a time with the expectation of not landing the customer.
Simply put, it’s elephant hunting. You have to be very patient, invest in very expensive tools, and will likely come home empty with each expedition. This is also why Enterprise software tends to be so expensive, in that it has to recoup all the costs from failed sales on every successful sale.
Lastly, expect to be nickeled and dimed (especially if you’re talking federal enterprise), and don’t expect to be paid promptly.
It’s hard to give a blanket answer.
Some organizations have had very good success with marketing channels such as SEO, cold calls and trade shows. I can also tell you stories of people who are very disappointed with the investments they’ve made in all of those channels.
Enterprise… try to get a positive review by Gartner or CIO Today. Expect sales cycles measured in months if not years. There’s a reason not a lot of small startups sell to the enterprise, it’s like trying to pick the apples at the top of the tree. You’re just starting out, go for the low hanging fruit and establish some good customers/references.
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