Corporate Innovation

5 Hacks for Startups to win your first Corporate Client

Quitting your corporate job and launching your dream startup is only half the battle. Finding people to use your product or service is the actual fight.
4
Min Read
May 25, 2021

I have seen many entrepreneurs who are wildly optimistic about their company's potential. Many people think if you have a great product or service, then clients would somehow magically appear.

But this is not the case in real life.

No matter what industry you're in, startup business owners have the same question: "How will I get my first Corporate Client?"

It's a significant milestone for any aspiring startup. Out of my experience at Wayra, where we connect startups with our Corporate Telefónica, here are 5 Hacks to win your first Corporate Client.

#1 Bring more than just an idea

Why? A great idea won't bring you there: Having a good idea is one thing, but getting it to life is what it's all about.

When approaching a Corporate, it is best to bring an industry-specific use case and, even better, a company-specific one. If you want to win a corporate, the startup slides with the corporate logo and use case have to be tailored to the needs of the significant customer. Focus on an existing problem for the targeted client that your solution will make disappear. In the next step, make it short and sweet so that the company can understand what you are offering and why it should hop onto your train.

#2 Your network is your door opener

Your network is critical because, many times, it will help you to find the right contact person. You should always start with FFF - your "Friends, Family, Fans". It is the most straightforward network to tap into. Even if none of them has a direct interest in using your service, they likely know someone that might.

The thing about networks and opportunities is that the structure of networks has fundamentally changed in the digital age. Networking and administration have become more accessible in many areas. However, the number of potential cooperation partners has multiplied. Therefore, you should first carefully select and, as a second step, bring yourself into the focus of promising partners.

#3 Put your niche in the focus

Start small, start within your niche and then go after the big fish.

It proves immensely challenging for startups that offer an "all-in-one" to find their right clients. If you want to work with corporates, you have to solve a specific problem with your product or service. You have to know exactly what needs the corporate has and how you can specifically help them. It should be noted that contacting an expert in the company that appreciates your niche product can be much more effective than a generalist.

#4 Dream big but start small

Dream big but start small means first go for small clients.

In a second step, go after big corporates because experience has shown when winning the small ones first, then the big ones will follow. Corporate clients prefer to see a POC or pilot project outside of their business first, as the corporate world is rather risk-averse. Therefore, to approach the big corporates, at least one small customer is needed. Gaining initial experience with smaller customers and getting references is a must. Be aware that reference calls are widespread in business practice. The more testers you have had, the better. Remember that you do not need to start with a three-year contract. However, a small POC is sufficient, and afterwards, you sign the big contracts.

#5 Sell your story

Most of the times, founders are successful when they are passionate about their business. Also, customers will notice that you stand 100% behind your idea. That, in turn, makes your selling more authentic. Nevertheless, never underestimate the level of professionalism corporates expect. They will never buy your product if they are afraid you cannot deliver or if there is a risk they lose their reputation with you internally.

But in the end, success comes to those who appeal to emotions: Founders should approach potential customers with an emotion-based story. After all, a corporate employee is also a human being and not exclusively rationally controlled. Therefore, with a good origin story, you can create an identification platform and will be remembered.

One step closer to your first corporate client

5 Hacks

Keeping these five hacks in mind will certainly bring you closer to your first corporate client. Above all, startups should also consider that to win your first corporate customer. It does not take only some days. It takes around six months or even much longer.

The key is never to give up and try hard.

The clue is to follow up, follow up and follow up! In the corporate world, 3-4 reminders are standard. If the client wants to move the demo four times, you need to move it four times. This behaviour does not indicate that they are not interested, just that they have a tight schedule.The clocks from the corporates tick differently than you are used to from the startup environment. Knowing this, a great deal of patience will save you many hours of frustration.

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Written by
Katrin Bacic

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Corporate Innovation