Small Company vs Large Corporations
Do you want a partner or just a product?
By: Emerick Radic, President of GreenTrail Solutions, Inc.
April 16, 2018
Most organizations I speak to want a strategic partner instead of just a products provider. Given how products are more feature rich with additional complexities than ever before – all to make our jobs simpler – companies are looking for expertise from their partners to help them get the most out of their investments.
At our company, we have two primary divisions: mailing equipment (sales, service, and supplies) and process improvement software (document creation, shipping, and procedural software). Each, while unique, require the same formula for maximum success, and this formula – along with our highly personalized approach – is precisely where we differ from the larger corporations.
It all starts with fact finding. While both large and small company sales personnel do this on a sales call, it is usually done for different reasons. A sales representative from a larger corporation will just want to know the numbers so they can quickly decide what size solution they can sell you. Once they make it down the questioning tree that some outside consultant created, they will then know the precise size of the solution to present based on the data they extracted from you during their impersonal fact-finding mission. Sounds logical… But is there a better approach?
Here at Green Trail Solutions, we like to start by asking a series of simple questions –
not based on stats so much as goals. The first question we will ask is, “What are you trying to accomplish?” This will immediately tell us something about your short-term goal. The next question we are going to ask you is, “What is the long-term goal of this project, situation, or process?” We want to know the future plans, along with your organization’s long-term goals so we can develop a solution that not only takes care of the immediate need but, more importantly, is a stepping stone to implement the right solution for your long-term plan. This is the difference between consultative long-term sales (goal of the small company) versus transactional – “What do you need today?” – sales (goal of large corporations).
Why doesn’t everyone think long term? Wouldn’t this be the best way to for all sales people to think and act? The answer falls in the difference between how large corporations and smaller companies privately think.
Large corporations, for the most part, think short term and transactionally because that is what their management and compensation plans reward. Most large corporations are run by a myriad of middle managers who are compensated by hitting monthly and quarterly targets. They want to know “What is the forecast this month?” and “How to we get them to close this month?” I call this management by spreadsheet, and it is the worst way to run a company! Trying to fit everything in a monthly timetable forces the sales representative to compress the sales cycle by skipping the consultative phase and going directly to sizing and pricing.
Ever wonder why when you buy a solution from a large corporation you may not see your sales representative for five years? Because they are onto the next sale -trying to hit that monthly number to impress their middle manager who’s hounding them to hit their monthly “targets”. And the cycle goes on and on – month after month – quarter after quarter. Thus, you end up with a product, not a partner.
Small Private Companies think differently, especially our company. Small companies want to add to their customer base and have long-term relationships.
We want happy customers who are willing to continue coming to us for solutions – truly satisfied customers who eagerly refer us to others. To accomplish both of those objectives, it is imperative that we are seen as problem solvers (take care of the immediate need) and consultants (work with you on reaching your long-term objectives). By utilizing a different set of measurables, you remove the management by spreadsheet ideology and replace it with management by relationship, a growth philosophy.
Human beings are inherently relationship oriented and want to help people. We just encourage those natural tendencies to create a win/win for the customer and us. Often times, a customer will call in and we will talk about their kids, their weekend, and even their summer plans before we get to business. Nothing makes me happier then when a customer calls “just to catch up.” Really, how cool is that?!? We are building long-lasting relationships, solving problems, and making our organizations better just by working together and knowing each other’s business.
So the next time you are looking for a solution, ask yourself if you just want a product or if you want a long-term relationship with an expert who sees you as more than just a number – more than a target or a goal? Hopefully you will want the latter and choose to work with us. And we will work together for many years to come – creating a strong, happy, and healthy relationship that makes each of our organizations better.