Working with big companies takes a lot of effort: yes, it is great for you if your company strives to establish a partner relationship with a brand like Apple, or Shell, or Toyota, — you get the point — but to shoot for the stars successfully, you need to employ certain knowledge and skills.
We know what we are talking about. During the years of Itransition’s operation on the market, we have implemented projects and launched products for such corporations as Philips, Xerox, adidas, Paypal, Shell, Toyota, and more. Each project had its history of establishing initial contacts with the right person to talk to, understanding the Customer’s needs, working closely together to deliver the expected results as well as anticipate the wishes.
Since we are a service company ourselves, we can sum up our experience and provide some useful tips that may help you in working with market leaders and not ending up in a rut. Today we talk about a couple of general tips and some of those that can be useful primarily for startups, charitable institutions, and service companies, as we work closely with those types of organizations and understand how they work and what they need.
If you are a startup, first, you need to grab the attention. These days, when everybody has heard of everything, you have to come up with an innovative, valuable idea that would be the foundation of your business, and present it to the world. Whether you are looking for financial support or try to promote your product, your company needs to see the light of day: do the meetups, attend conferences, engage with the media — these movements will help large corporations see you, and this, in its turn, can lead to productive cooperation.
It is also important to do your research and find out as much as you can about the big company you would like to work with. What is the company business philosophy? Who takes the decisions? What were the important financial deals that the company made during the last couple of years? All the answers you can get will double the chances of establishing a business relationship with a market leader.
In case you have already launched your product and now present it to a big corporation, there is one more thing important to remember: sometimes a startup needs to protect itself. Think over all the aspects of what you are looking for in a business partnership, sign an NDA to keep your innovative idea safe, learn to be flexible but do not lose track of what is going on. Large corporations often make small startups part of themselves — if you like this option, it’s ok, but if you would like to continue growing as a separate business entity, be careful.
If you are a non-profit organization, then, in the same vein, you need to do your homework and find out which companies you would like to work with, who you need to contact within those corporations, what the process of applying for partnership is, etc. Then, again, you need to stand out from the crowd. Large corporations are willing to engage in philanthropy and volunteer work, but there are a lot of small charity institutions that do not know how to declare themselves in front of market leaders. In order to catch the attention, you need to be clear and specific about your needs. A lot of organizations are just seeking a sponsor, but if you know exactly what you need and what for, there is a better chance you will be noticed.
Understanding the field you are operating in and being honest about your work are the selling points at your disposal — do not fear showing you have goals and you need certain help to reach them.
And finally, what to do if you are a service company and you would like to work with a large corporation. First of all, you need to understand the pains and needs of big companies and how your business can help them. Do not just sell your services — sell ideas of mutual benefit. For example, one of our Customers, PayPal, a large online payment acquirer known worldwide, needed to keep on growing and stay ahead of competition. With that in mind, they have decided to implement a new internal solution — a learning portal for newly hired employees — which we at Itransition successfully developed for them, thanks to having the required expertise and understanding of the Customer’s needs.
Another important thing to do in order to become a service provider for a market leader is to grab the opportunities. Make sure your services are well-presented for those looking for them, accept invitations to bid for the projects of big companies, keep an eye on the initiatives of the company you would like to work with, etc. It is also very important to provide all the necessary training and materials to your business development managers so that they could do everything they can to win a project when an opportunity comes up.
One more tip that might help you in dealing with industry sharks is always to have attention to detail, from researching all the available information about your potential client that can help you understand them (as we did with Shell Oil) to organizing personal meetings (as we did with Phillips) and understanding the cultural differences (if any) between you and a corporation whose service provider you would like to become.
What is your experience of working with large corporations? Did you come across any situations similar to mentioned above? Share your opinion on our tips in the comments below.