How do you win corporate clients? This is a question on many accountants, lawyers and consultants lips, as winning lucrative work with big corporate clients is the dream. Not only does it mean repeat business worth many billable hours at respectable rates for the firm, but it’s a very good chance that this could be their golden ticket to becoming a partner too! There’s a reason why the best clients are not always the easiest to get, so here is a quick guide to winning corporate clients (even when you’re not yet partner!).
Use a personalised marketing approach
Mass email pitching, social media marketing, content marketing, and keyword advertising…these are methods that may be suitable for smaller clients, but if you want to know how do you win corporate clients, you need to have an individual approach. Winning the bigger fish requires a lot more offline marketing and targeting individual corporate clients; it involves a lot of research and due diligence, a lot of planning and time contacting them, forming connections, and putting together a solid proposal geared to their particular needs. Your marketing plan should identify which large corporate clients you want to target. Many of our Big 4 clients typically only have a handful of prospects which they are focusing on.
Research the company thoroughly first
Before reaching out to anyone, you need to first find out what the company does, what its strengths and weaknesses are, as well as its history and future plans. Once you know this, you can then present your service as the solution to a particular problem and a key component to helping the company achieve its goals. The more you find out the better, so check out the company website for its annual report, look for mentions in the press and read trade journals and reports by analysts and consultants for an insight into the industry and the company’s place in it. Do follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram if they have it. If the company has a physical presence such as a retailer, see if you can mystery shop them to get a feel for how they operate.
Form key connections and build these relationships
Corporations may be huge entities, but they’re composed of thousands of individual people, and it’s those individuals who make the decisions. Corporate executives, in particular, run their own department and have the authority to fund their own projects; they have their own specific business needs, wants and budgets. During your company research, you should come across some names who you can contact but if you don’t, you may need to get more creative to figure out exactly who the right person to reach out to is. Try ringing reception to ask for the name of the role you want to contact, e.g. “can you let me know the name of the finance director or general counsel?” It’s always good practice to work your way through your LinkedIn contacts. Maybe an existing connection of yours knows someone at the company that they can introduce you to. Remember, referrals are a powerful thing.
We have a great course in our subscriber-only site Progress to Partner called How to Make time for Business Development. The course gives you the structure, clarity, and guidance to create a daily business development habit and a business development plan that is focussed and not just based on friendly coffees!
Work with your firm’s bid team on the tender
When you’ve introduced yourself and you’ve started to form relationships with key people, and they have asked you to help them with a price of work, now is the ideal time to put together a professional proposal to win their business. Large corporations often have set procedures that may need approval from multiple people within the organisation, so you’ll need a winning proposal that can be shared! You may find that, regardless of how much they want to work with you, they have a company policy to go out to tender for the work.
You may have heard this as an RFP (request for proposals). Don’t take this personally, it is often how companies with procurement policies and teams work. If you are lucky enough to have a bid team in your firm to help you with your tender, then use this team. Even if you don’t have a dedicated bid team then ask your marketing or firm’s business development team for help. To write a successful proposal, you need to address the corporation’s specific needs and wants, position your firm as the solution and key to reaching their goals, and you need to provide perfect answers to two key questions:
- Why should they choose your firm over one of your competitors?
- How do they know that you will be professional and able to handle the work?
Winning corporate clients is possible even when you’re not yet partner!
How do you win corporate clients? You use these 4 steps. We are not saying it’s easy but it is possible if you are willing to put in the time and do the research. Whilst the sales process is very different and it can be extremely tricky to find out who to contact in the corporation that you want to work with, the challenges are worth taking on when the potential to win the biggest contract of your career is well within your grasp.
We created the Progress to Partner subscriber-only site to make it as easy as possible to build your partner-ready skills.. There are guides, self-study courses, useful videos, workbooks waiting for you – everything you need to know about how to make partner all in one place.