Search

Enterprise Selling: Hot Dog Style

Summer in Chicago is fast approaching (I would say it’s here, but the rain would argue otherwise.) Weather issues aside, summer means long hot days at the beach, blue skies, and warm breezes. As it happens, a business idea hitched a ride on one of those breezes, and was deposited in the mind of our fictional startup guru, Bob. Bob has recently gotten into the fine culinary art of hot dog making. Countless hours in the kitchen, soaking up knowledge with Food Network perpetually on in the background, he has crafted the perfect hot dog. With his business plans in order, Bob is ready to take his hot dogs to the public. However, before he can do any selling to his consumers, he has some OTHER selling to do.


Enterprise Selling.


Bob has to nail some business to business deals to set up his shop. He has his eyes on a piece of real estate on the pier for his shop’s first location, and he knows how he’s going to get it.


Bob, we can’t forget, is a renowned Chicago entrepreneur (and a bit of a business geek). He is so excited for the opportunity to sell his business idea to the pier management company that all he’s dreamt about for weeks is the multi-round sales process, which is totally normal! That, and mustard, a soft bun, a juicy ‘dog, and…where were we? Oh yes, before Bob dives right into to the sale, he has some networking to do. Bob knows that his network is the most powerful resource he has, and over the years he has built up a vibrant and active set of connections and allies by being an honest, hardworking and kind, guy. Bob would happily come to the aid of any of his connections if they were starting a company. Armed with the confidence in his networks’ reciprocity, he reaches out to some of peeps with his hot dog stand idea. Multiple phone calls, coffee dates and happy hours later, one of Bob’s friends gives him the perfect lead: they’re great friends with the pier’s property manager, Carly. His networking connection has committed to set up an introduction. Bob is on cloud nine, because this is the exact introduction he was hoping to make.


Before meeting with Carly, Bob goes over his sales strategy. He wants to prepare for what she, as a property manager, will be looking for in a sales pitch, and he wants to do so in a way that is logical but also creative and comprehensive. When Bob meets with Carly, he explains to her that his hot dog stand is the best in the business. He makes the most delicious dogs and customers will come from all corners of the beach to buy one. Carly doesn’t need to just take his word for it because Bob he brings one for her to sample (and it’s GOOD.) The quality of his ‘dogs will generate revenue for both Bob and the pier, making it an all around win, and he’s modeled it not only for what the foot-traffic his business will generate, but also the secondary and tertiary transactions that traffic could create for OTHER vendors on the pier. He understands that enterprise buying is a holistic process, so he sells Carly not only on his hot dogs, but on the concept of a hot dog stall. He explains that no sane person would ONLY buy a hot dog at the beach. They would obviously want ice cream or some fresh lemonade to wash it down, meaning that his hot dog stand would create business for other stores in the pier. Now, Carly is convinced that a hot dog stand is the only reasonable choice for the open shop, and she’s partial to Bob’s due to his strong reasoning and delicious dogs. Does Bob have the deal?


NOPE. Before a deal can be made, Carly needs to pitch the concept, and the expected returns to her boss and the rest of her decision making team.


Bob goes a nervous couple weeks without hearing from Carly. He might have binged on a few ‘dogs at the end of the second week, but he got a grip on his apprehension. After all, Bob is a pro, and knows that, while it might seem natural to get stressed out, this is all part of the customers buying cycle. He gets that enterprise selling is a complicated process with a lot of people and stages of decision making, involved. He also knows that not everything works out exactly how you plan in a sale. He’s been tapping more people in his network and taking more sales meetings in the interim because consistency and dedication are key to landing a sale. Bob was also able to regain his cool as he reminded himself that being calm was a function of how big his pipeline was (it was big) and how many alternate deals he had in the queue (quite a few).


Carly finally gets back to Bob; her boss is interested. They set up a meeting to begin the negotiating process. This is when Bob has to really elevate his thinking because now he’s not only selling to Carly, but also to her boss. Bob has to figure out what the pier’s management association is looking for and speak to that need. Maybe they need to generate a million dollars in revenue for the season. In this case, Bob would offer 30% of his profits to the pier, furthering their reach of that goal. Or maybe the pier needs to have at least 10 million visitors this summer; then profits are a little less important, so Bob would offer 20% in sales plus $10,000 in marketing to help them market, in ways their fixed budgets might not be able to accomodate. When Bob presents this idea, Carly’s manager’s interest in piqued. Bob’s offer would round out her marketing budget nicely, allowing her to create promotional materials that she knows would be wildly successful. Bob all but has the deal!


Lest you forget, Bob is not your average businessman, he is a bonafide hustler, and he knows that even with the way things are looking, his enterprise selling isn’t done until he sells to the ecosystem. So Bob contacts an ice cream vendor and a sunglasses/suntan lotion shop at the pier and tells them about his hot dog stand. He also casually mentions that if his stand were to come to the pier he would give patrons $5 off coupons to their stands for his first two weeks of business. Suddenly, Carly and her boss’ emails are blowing up. The other vendors at the pier are die-hard fans of Bob and his hot dogs. They want him at the pier, and now, more than ever so does Carly and her boss

.

Bob has got himself a deal and the perfect hot dog stand at the pier, just in time for the rain clouds to clear up for summer. Even though Bob is an old pro, any entrepreneur can achieve his status if they just follow his go-to tactics for enterprise selling:

  1. Tap your existing network.

  2. Prepare yourself for both the technical and creative aspects of the process.

  3. Stay positive and recognize that the process will fluctuate with highs and lows.

  4. Understand the customer buying process.

  5. Understand the multi-round sales process.

  6. Sell to a team, not an individual.

  7. Sell to the ecosystem

In fact, I’ll actually be taking a few notes out of Bob’s book pretty soon. Scale and market penetration are becoming increasingly important to K8's portfolio companies as the enterprise selling process gets closer. While this is a super exciting time for the company, and me as a fellow business geek, the process can be long and exhausting, especially after all the hard work I’ve poured in to creating your product. However, if we can learn anything from Bob, it’s with the right mindset and preparation, enterprise selling doesn’t need to be the monster of an undertaking that it’s cracked up to be; it can be as fun as eating a hot dog on the beach (well, probably not, but you catch the drift.)

0 views