Every sales transaction comes with its risks and rewards. While most sales transactions are commercial, an enterprise sale is in a class of its own. A simple definition of an enterprise sale is that it’s a sales transaction primarily targeted towards large enterprises or companies. However, looking deeper into the nature of enterprise sales reveals that it’s not strictly about selling to large companies. At the crux of an enterprise, sale is a product or service that has a potentially high impact on business. An enterprise sale is characterized by high risk, high profit, and a complex sales cycle. Due to its complexity, an enterprise sale is also known as a complex sale.
An enterprise sale typically goes through long sales cycles that involve back-and-forth negotiations, product-business analysis, and risk assessments. Depending on the outcome of an enterprise sales cycle, the sales deal either closes successfully or is dropped off. Unlike other traditional sales transactions, enterprise sales usually involve a higher level of risk and a high-impacting product or service that must be optimized in functionality and uniqueness. As such, any product can become the object of an enterprise sale - so long as it’s optimized for high impact, functionality, and uniqueness.
Due to the complexity of enterprise sales deals, sales offerings are often made to multiple companies. This is done in a bid to improve the chances of profitability. In most cases, companies who receive a sales offer in an enterprise sale try to outbid one another for the enterprise product. Bidding companies usually play a major role in product analysis and decision-making to ensure that the enterprise product is optimized both for functionality and the company’s uniqueness. In an enterprise sale, it’s not sufficient for a product to be optimized for functionality; it must be tailored to the specific preferences of a customer (company). As such, enterprise sales typically involve customers looking for a product that can cater to their unique needs rather than a one-size-fits-all solution.
Enterprise Sales And Other Types of Sales Model
There are different sales models with varying strategies and characteristics. Although enterprise sales stand in its class, it’s often compared to three other sales models; self-service, SMB (small-medium business), and mid-market sales.
Across all four types of sales models, there’s one crucial sales requirement - product-market fit. Irrespective of the strategy involved in either of the sales models, the product or service being sold must be optimized to fit the market’s needs. Although an enterprise sale primarily differs from the rest in terms of risks and rewards, let’s look at a brief comparison:
Enterprise Sales vs. Self-service Sales
The self-service sales model can be likened to a DIY sales model where customers are predominantly in charge of the sales cycle and product usage. Businesses that use this model typically spend less on customer acquisition but succeed in retaining and generating new customers. Companies such as Dropbox and Facebook utilize the self-service sales model, allowing customers to use their products and pay premiums at their own pace. It gives customers a sense of independence.
On the other hand, an enterprise sale relies more on lengthy sales cycles to ensure that products are optimized for the customer. Unlike the cost-effective self-service model, enterprise sales typically involve higher risks and cater to large companies rather than mid or low-level customers. Depending on the sales goal, it’s possible to implement the self-service sales model into an enterprise sale transaction.
Enterprise Sales vs. SMB and Mid-market Sales
SMB (small-medium business) and mid-market sales models are similar in structure, size, and target market. The SMB and Mid-market sales pool accounts for 99% of the US businesses. As such, these sales models come with a higher risk and reward than the self-service sales model.
Enterprise sales largely differ from SMB and mid-market sales in size and profitability. Although large enterprises only account for less than 1% of the US business market, they account for at least 60% of the market revenue. Seeing as the enterprise sales market is relatively small yet profitable, it naturally accrues more risk, negotiations, and longer sales cycles. Typically, the goal in an enterprise sale is more about customer retention than a generation.
Key Features Of An Enterprise Sale
The four sales models have key differences between an enterprise sale and other sales models. Some of the defining features of an enterprise sale include:
Longer sales cycles involving multiple negotiations and decision-making meetings can span up to a year.
An enterprise sale targets a smaller pool of customers with the prospect of higher profitability.
An enterprise sale typically involves a custom-order purchasing system. The customer’s preferences are largely taken into account when creating the product.
Pain points in an enterprise sale are usually forward-looking. Product assessment for pain points is geared towards covering potential needs in the coming years.
Enterprise sales focus more on targeted advertisement and developing a strong customer-business relationship via multiple touchpoints. This ultimately aids customer retention.
Your Market Determines Your Sales Strategy
An enterprise sale is, by account, the most expensive sales strategy. What makes it worthwhile is the fact that higher rewards often compensate for the high risks involved. However, the prospect of high rewards doesn’t make an enterprise sales model the best option for all businesses.
At the heart of an enterprise, sale is a high-impact product best suited for large companies. What’s more, the sales cycles of an enterprise sale are typically long and cost-intensive. As such, if your business doesn’t offer a high-impact product or can’t cater to long sales cycles, it’s best to seek other sales models. Seeing as the dominant chunk of the US business market is governed by small to medium-scale businesses, it would be safer to consider SMB or mid-market sales strategies in place of an enterprise sale.