If you sell a product or service to very large corporations or organizations, it can be intimidating.
And there is no shortage of these monoliths in aviation.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to say your product or service is used by Lockheed Martin or Boeing or L3 or Airbus?
And yet, approaching these big organizations can be really daunting.
It doesn’t need to be.
Your job is still the same, just convincing one person at a time that your product is the best solution for a problem he or she is having.
At the same time, there are some “gotchas” that can torpedo the sale.
In this week’s podcast, we provide some advice about how to go about it.
Narrator: You’re listening to Aviation Marketing Hangar Flying. The community for the best sales and marketing professionals in the aviation industry. Your hosts John and Paula Williams are your sales and marketing test pilots. They take the risks for you, ensure strategies, relevant examples, hacks, and how tos. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes so you won’t miss a thing.
Paula Williams: Welcome to aviation marketing hanger flying, episode number 18, infiltrating large organizations. Now, this sounds very, like espionage or whatever. [LAUGH] But in aviation in particular, there are a lot of very large organizations that are involved with some of the products and services that we sell.
And some of our clients sell to large organizations and find themselves faced with what looks like a monolith. [LAUGH] You know, you’ve got these big organizations that have committees that make decisions and other kinds of things. And this can really mess up your sales cycle, because it really adds a lot of time and complexity to the sales cycle.
So today we’re going to talk about some of the ways to make that easier. So I’m Paula Williams.
John Williams: And I’m John Williams.
Paula Williams: And we are ABCI. And ABCI’s mission is
John Williams: Help all you ladies and gentlemen out there sell more aviation products and services.
Paula Williams: Absolutely, so size matters in transactions.
And the reason that it matters is because the larger the transaction is, the slower the sales process tends to go. So with a lot of our clients, we often advise that they have a smaller product or service that they sell in addition to a larger product or service that they sell because this whale hunting can be really difficult.
It can really mess up your cash flow. It can really be disruptive of your payroll and everything else. When you are depending on some really, really large transactions, kinda like commercial real estate where one transaction a year can make or break your year, your budget. So that’s not a reason not to do these large transactions, but it certainly is a reason to mitigate that as much as we can.
John Williams: And some expectations for you, or sales staff appropriately.
Paula Williams: Exactly, and don’t think you’re going to go in and take on a very larger organization and have the same sales process and the same Velocity that you’ve had with smaller organizations. So the more people you have sitting around a table in a meeting, the longer the meeting’s going to take.
And the same thing is true of the sale cycle. The more parties that are involved with the sales decision, the longer that is going to take. So in some cases we actually have one example with a client where we had to influence and actually win over-
John Williams: All these people.
Paula Williams: 12 separate people. And if you draw out an org chart, you’ve got people in you’ve got the general manager at the top of the heap. But let’s say the first person that found us was a project manager who’s in charge of a small project or a medium sized project, and he has to sell this idea to his manager.
They also have to sell this whole idea within the safety department The project control department, the procurement department, the engineering department, and QAQC department.
John Williams: And so forth.
Paula Williams: And so forth. And several individuals in each of those departments have to sign off on this purchase, so how the heck are we going to convince 12 different people?
All of whom have very different agendas and motivations to buy this product. John Williams: With great vigor.
Paula Williams: [LAUGH] With great vigor, exactly. So the first thing that we need to do is make a hero out of the person who invited us to the party. We want to make him look good, we need to find out what his motivations are.
Obviously, this project manager who invited us to demonstrate our product or service has a very strong reason to want our product or service because it’s going to help him do his project. And so he’s going to sell us to his boss and we want to do everything we possibly can to make this person look good, make it look like he’s making a wise decision, and we also want to give as much credit to him on any of the collaborative material or any of the other things that we can to give him a motivation to introduce this to other people, because he’s going to develop a rapport and a level of trust with us that we are not going to make him look bad in front of any of his colleagues.
We’re not going to make him look risky in front of the safety committee, we’re not going to make him look shoddy in front of the QA committee. All of those things we have to take into account and make that person the hero of the story, right?
John Williams: Of course. In all my consulting career I always told people that if things went well they were responsible.
If things went to hell, it was my problem.
Paula Williams: [LAUGH]
John Williams: Because I was the consultant. I mean, they lived there, I didn’t. I was there temporarily.
Paula Williams: Exactly. And as a consultant, we have that obligation. And as a salesperson, you also have that obligation, to make people-
John Williams: Out to be the hero.
Paula Williams: Out to be the hero. And give them as much credit as you possibly can for anything that goes well. We used LinkedIn a lot in this process. It’s actually a pretty good way of finding out, especially in a large organization, who all is connected to who and how we can use our situation to expand our network into that organization.
So let’s say in this example, I’m looking at a Boeing LinkedIn page, and I can see how I’m connected to people within Boeing. I may have two first degree connections, and 1,869 second degree connections, and 91,000 total employees on LinkedIn. So what I can do is I can look at the two that I know or that I’m connected to and I can see who they are connected to, and kind of carry it out from there and just see what their title’s are, see where they fit in the organization.
Do some research on them so then next time I talk with this particular person, or this project manager that I’m talking to, I can see who his boss is, I can see where he went to school, I can see what groups he’s connected to, I can see different ways to maybe influence the situation on my behalf and on behalf of our our project manager who brought us in.
John Williams: Of course.
Paula Williams: Of course. Okay. Another thing that I can do is I can search by relationship within LinkedIn. So I can search for second degree connections and see, okay, I’ve got four of those. And then where do I want to search for those? Do I wanna search just in the United States?
Just in the Seattle area. We’re talking about Boeing in our example. There’s going to be a lot of people in Seattle. Or are they going to be closer to our location in Salt Lake City. Is there anyone closer to me that I could talk with? That might save on some travel costs and things if there is a local office so there’s lots of ways that you can use LinkedIn to find out who do I really need to get to know and how are they connected to the people that I don’t know yet?
Paula Williams: Make sense so far? John Williams: You’re the doctor, keep going.
Paula Williams: [LAUGH] All right, okay. So another thing that we can do is Google Alerts. Let’s say we are looking for information on the Boeing 777. Because that has something to do with a project that we’re working on.
We’re developing a product, or a client is developing a product for the Boeing 777. So, I can set up a Google alert. To be sent to me as often as I want, in this instance, I’m going to set it for once a day. I want it to be automatic.
I want it to be only English language materials, because I’m not that good at French or anything else. Any region and only the best results, and I want it to be delivered to my in box on in my email. So I can set this up in Goggle alerts so I will be notified whenever something happens that has to do with the Boeing 777, that way whenever I’m talking with a contact at Boeing, I have a clue.[LAUGH] Clue is good. It’s good to have a clue. You know, that way I’m not behind on the news. I’m not wasting a lot of time reading a lot of things that are not relevant to my project. But I have a pretty good idea of what’s going on.
And then when something happens that’s relevant to the product or service that I sell I can send an email or make a phone call and say, I saw this in the news this morning, this is how this would effect the situation that we’re working on. So that’s a good thing to do when you’re working with a large organization especially, you want to make sure you are up on the news because they are in the news all the time.
Cool. So, all of this fits into phase two of long cycle marketing. We’ve already made our prospecting situation, getting in touch with somebody within the organization. We may use social media to connect with more people and to expand our network. As we meet those people, we may want to send more information packages.
There’s no reason not to send even ten or more information packages into a large organization, just so that everybody knows who this company is and what they do and why they’re talking to us and start sending your newsletters and other things to those folks. And there’s nothing wrong with reaching out and making an introductory call and saying hi, my name’s Paula Williams, I work with ABCI and I understand we’re working with your company. I’m working with this individual on this project, I just wanted to introduce myself.
And let you know if you have any questions about marketing, that’s what we’re here for. So here’s my contact information, and I’m at your service. So that sort of thing can really help you expand your network into a large organization. So those printed and mailed newsletters, you can send those to as many people in the organization as you want to connect with them on social media.
Send them direct mail and eventually that will add up to hopefully some requested formal sales presentations down the road, right?
John Williams: Absolutely, we’ve seen it.
Paula Williams: We have seen it, and yeah, we don’t work with very many super large organizations because of the time Involved in the time in the sales cycle, but a lot of our clients do.
So, you know if you’re in that situation there are lots of ways to really infiltrate and make that network larger. So those are some ideas on how to use some of the tools you have to make that happen. All right so download our tip sheet, which is about qualifying prospects.
The three items that we talked about in qualifying prospects are interest, resources, and authority. You wanna make sure that people have all three of those things. And we have a tip sheet that helps you check off some of those items and find ways to make that easier. You’ll want to do that within large organizations as well.
John Williams: You didn’t say what the URL was for the tip sheet.
Paula Williams: I didn’t that’s terrible. So the URL for the tip sheet is aviationbusinessconsultants.com/qualifying. So once again, aviationbusinessconsultants.com/qualifying. So go ahead and download that tip sheet and you’ll have some great information on how to make that happen and not waste time on unqualified people, like we have.
So go ahead and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and please do leave us a review. It is a fairly new podcast and we love to hear what you like, what you don’t like, and what we’d like to hear more of. Thank you for joining us and have a great week.
John Williams: We’ll see you next time.