To sell software to an enterprise-level company, you need grit – and the right data. On average, prospects answer only one out of eighteen sales calls and open only one in four emails. If they’re lucky enough to get a line of communication going your sales team needs to hook prospects quickly with a blend of strong relationship-building and analytical skills.
Traditionally, trade shows, conferences, and lavish events were the primary strategy for drawing attention for your tech product and building rapport with buyers. However, with the rapid pace of of intelligence platforms and increasingly advanced sales solutions, enterprise software sellers must now rely more heavily on data-driven approaches.
What is Enterprise Software Sales?
Enterprise software sales is complex. Typically it involves long sales cycles, multiple decision-makers, and significant investments.There may be several months of relationship-building between the sales team and the buyer, a trial period, and a custom-built contract.
But with a skilled team and robust tools, it’s customizable for each target account and scalable.
What makes enterprise software sales different from other enterprise sales?
Selling software at the enterprise-level requires more technical knowledge and experience.
Salespeople must be willing to ask plenty of questions to engineers, executives, and marketers to understand more about their product, the industries they sell into, and how their solution fits with other tech solutions.
For example, if you work for a SaaS company aiming to serve enterprise-level companies in a regulated industry like healthcare, you need to know your solution’s features and use cases, but also complex issues such as regulatory compliance, customizability, and integrations with other healthcare-oriented solutions.
Enterprise-level account managers also need to excel at communicating with stakeholders outside the C-suite, including IT leaders, architects, developers, and legal teams.
Enterprise Software Sales Starts with Product and Marketing Alignment
A solid product-market fit is critical for any go-to-market strategy and sales structuring. If your ideal customer profile (ICP) is an enterprise-level customer, they will expect a software product that is highly customizable and will integrate with their current solutions.
Your product needs to solve problems that already exist — not cause new complications.
Companies are not seeking to sign big contracts unless your product offers (and is positioned as) a solution to their pain, rather than a ‘nice-to-have’ product.
How can Sales and Marketing work together to target enterprises?
Converting leads into customers doesn’t begin with sales teams. Marketing plays a crucial role in identifying and generating qualified leads.
Successful marketing at the enterprise level must be highly targeted. Teams often rely on account-based marketing to create custom messaging and content for specific target accounts. To do this well, marketing and sales teams rely on accurate data. . The scope of that data continues to evolve with tools like Intricately -- it’s not just about industry and geo targeting anymore. Go-to-market strategies can become highly targeted - and more successful -- using advanced data about prospects like their software adoption, spending, and propensity to buy.
More informed, highly customized, and transparent outreach . helps prevent friction for prospects and reduces drop-off when passing leads from Marketing to Sales.
Roles and Skills of an Enterprise Sales Team
Software companies that sell to enterprises typically have an enterprise sales team with a variety of roles to keep things moving along gracefully. Here’s the typical makeup of an enterprise sales team:
- Sales Development Representative (SDR): Typically earlier in their career,SDRs (also known as business development representatives or BDRs) qualify inbound leads from Marketing, respond to emails, and coordinate meetings on behalf of account executives.
- Account Executive (AE)/Account Manager: AEs follow up on qualified leads and close deals.
- Solutions Consultant (SC) and Sales Engineer (SE): SCs and SEs support the AE with demonstrations, identifying and tailoring use cases for prospects.
- Customer Success Manager (CSM): CSMs play a critical role in making sure customers stay happy, acting as partners in their customers’ success. This is essential for ensuring renewals, reducing churn, and upselling to current customers.
In addition to these roles, there are managers, regional directors, and others who ensure operations are in order.
It’s also important to stay in communication with channel partners and teams in your partner ecosystem. The solutions that your product integrates with make your product “stickier” for enterprises. It helps to be transparent and on the same page with their sales teams.
The Tech Enterprise Sales Process
Effective enterprise sales teams navigate a complex landscape with moving pieces. There are multiple decision-makers and the buying cycle tends to be long. Sales teams must have a system in place to maximize wins.
There are a number of approaches to sales: At Intricately, we encourage using the SPANCO approach, which stands for “Suspect, Prospect, Approach, Negotiate, Close and Order.”
The process goes something like this:
- Suspect: An organization is putting feelers out. You may have learned this by monitoring search intent, collecting business intelligence using a platform like Intricately or through word of mouth or social listening. In any case, you have a feeling there’s a problem at an organization that you can solve...
- Prospect: ...and thus begins your prospecting process. You start sizing your potential customer up, getting a feel for their needs and determining what will best contribute to a successful business encounter with them. In this stage, you identify multiple decision-makers, what they care about, and potential connections who could offer you a warm introduction.
- Approach: With your research in your back pocket, you reach out. Today, social media is a great place to start engagement. Remember, people don’t want to be sold to. Sales hinges on solid relationships and empathy — be a human who listens, cares about the prospects’ pain points, and tries to be helpful.
- Negotiate: If you and your prospect decide you are potentially a good fit, it’s time to move forward. In enterprise tech deals, companies typically go through a trial period or proof of concept. After testing your product, you can negotiate a custom contract. When you close B2B deals, pitch as if you’re pitching to the CFO by demonstrating the hard-dollar ROI your product will offer the buyer.
- Close: The contract is signed. The negotiations are closed and all parties are satisfied.
- Order: Time for delivery. Get the assets into your customer’s hands, set them up with the appropriate customer success personnel and, ideally, build a relationship that brings positive returns for years to come.
If that all sounds overly simplistic, it is. In reality, navigating the sales process and getting to a closed deal means diving deep into the weeds, anticipating potential issues, and dealing with unexpected developments as they come up.
Pitfalls to Avoid in Enterprise Software Sales
Enterprise sales is challenging. Here are some pitfalls to avoid:
- Poor timing: Sales teams need to consider timing when reaching out to prospects. Consider if target accounts are already in your market, when contracts are up for renewal or replacement, have received new rounds of funding, or other key milestones.
- Start selling before listening: Hard selling doesn’t work well any more. Listen to customers’ pain points before pitching your product. Ask questions, consider how their business is impacted by external economic trends, and make customers feel safe.
- Relying on firmographic data, inaccurate or missing lead data: Data is your friend. You can find a wealth of information—like intent or firmographic data—using tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator and others. However, when selling a digital product, teams need more information than revenue band and employee count. Tools like Intricately provide cloud wallet data, spend, and service usage volume to help vendors improve their prospecting.
Why Enterprise Software Sales Success Requires Data
Prior to the global pandemic in 2020, researchers at Forrester reported that B2B sales teams that implemented virtual selling increased their sales by 20%. This is largely because Sales and Marketing are better able to align themselves around the data.
Likewise, McKinsey research from 2018 found that almost half of senior leaders reported that data and analytics “significantly or fundamentally changed” their sales function in the prior three years. Seventy percent of executives also said that data and analytics caused at least moderate changes in their industries’ competitive landscapes in recent years.
If you don’t adopt data and analytics, your competitors will. They will be able to see when target accounts are ready to buy, what cloud usage they’re using, what technology they’re already leveraging or not. They will also be able to see how they can solve prospects’ problems better.
Not only will you want to be using data to understand your prospects better — you need to understand your current customers. Keeping your current customers happy and eager to add new features is the best way to grow.
Setting yourself up for enterprise software sales success
Tech buyers make decisions based on trust and relationships just like those in the B2C sector — however, they need to justify their decisions with ROI. With the right data and analytics tools, sales teams can identify and prioritize opportunities most likely to lead to success.
Intricately’s free sales tool can help you:
- See into a company’s tech stack, deployment dates, usage and spend on digital infrastructure
- Create a smart list of target accounts
- Segment prospects based on unique data like: application characteristics, traffic, and digital infrastructure details