5 Tips for Selling to the big guys by Ed Robinson
by Ken Morimoto
About Ed Robinson
Ed Robinson is the founder and CEO of Aptimize, the web performance company whose message is this simple: Double your website speed—no code changes, no extra hardware. He specializes in designing and bringing to market software that builds business value for developers and IT professionals.
Previously, he worked for major technology companies including Microsoft where he designed and helped market Microsoft Visual Studio, Microsoft Content Management Server and Microsoft SharePoint; and also for smaller companies through the start up phase. Ed also authored two books ”Upgrading Visual Basic 6 to Visual Basic .NET” and “Security for Visual Basic .NET” with 50,000 copies in print.
Say hi to him on Twitter here.
5 tips for selling to the big guys
#1 Define simply what your product is
You want to make your message so easy to understand that people can quickly see the value you bring and communicate it to others in the organization. Here’s Apitmize’s simple message: “Double your website speed—no code changes, no extra hardware.”
See how it quickly communicates what the company does? Ed says it took them about 6 months of refining till they got to this simple statement, so don’t expect it to come overnight.
#2 Clearly define what the value is
Too many companies over-complicate the value they bring to customers. Ed recommends this test to see how clearly you’re defining your message. Tell your friends or colleagues what value your business offers, then ask them, “Can you describe my business to me?”
If they can’t repeat it back to you clearly, then you’re not focused enough.
#3 Use an old-school sales model
Ed says if you have a complicated pricing structure, it becomes harder for bigger companies to know what they’re paying or even create purchase orders. By keeping your pricing simple, you make it easier for your customers to understand what they’re paying and communicate it within their organizations.
#4 Offer great support
As a young company, one of the advantages you have is that your customers can speak to the people in charge. You’re (not yet) so big that you’re inaccessible, so use that advantage. At Aptimize, customers can reach Ed directly. After the interview, a viewer emailed him and CC’d me. He got a response right away.
Kevin Hale of Wufoo said something similar when he told us that everyone in his company, including the co-founders, do customer support and write personal thank you letters to their customers.
#5 Talk about your background
Read how Aptimize was founded and see for yourself how a background story can help sell a product. Here’s an edited excerpt from that part of the program:
Our background story isn’t just about making money or trying to think up an idea. We invented our product because we had a problem. Two years ago, some colleagues and I started a software-as-a-business service. There are so many of them out there these days. And we had just another one. It was an online project management product.
We hosted it here, in Wellington, New Zealand, which is down near Australia. It’s the last bus stop before you hit the Antarctica, right? It’s a long way away. What we found was that our website was fast for us in Wellington, New Zealand but slower for people accessing it from Melbourne, Australia. Slower again from Seattle. New York it was even slower. And London England, it was incredibly slow.
I emailed a bunch of friends and said, “Look here, try…” and they said, “Your website’s so slow.” And that’s all that they noticed.
So we invented this thing that sped up our own website, and we got our load times from New York from 30 seconds down to 4 seconds. And so that was the invention that ended up being the Aptimize Website Accelerator.