Advice from Arnaud Auger, Senior Advisor with the Innovation Lab at BNP Paribas.
Landing an enterprise client with deep pockets can spell success for a startup. But not all startups are a good fit for a corporate client.
A classic example of this was Netscape. They generated billions in investment after creating the first successful web browser. But failed because they weren’t able to collaborate with industry leader Microsoft.
What lessons can today’s fintech and blockchain startups learn from the past? What steps can they take to sell to enterprise blockchain markets? And how can they overcome slow decision-making and office politics?
Partnering for Innovative Disruption
Disrupting an industry with innovative technology is an exciting idea. But true disruptive innovation is about evolving an industry over time. Not sudden change from a single innovative product. The best way to disrupt is to work together with an industry leader.
So, how can a startup find a good corporate client to work with? Knowing the right bank can help. Arnaud Auger is Senior Advisor with the Innovation Lab at BNP Paribas. BNP is France’s largest bank with 200,000 employees in 73 countries. He says BNP works with startups in a range of industries to help them succeed in three ways.
The relationship usually starts when BNP hires a startup as a service provider. The bank may then either invest in the startup or refer them to a client. They have over 20 million clients. “We act as bridge between the blockchain world and the corporate world,” he said.
BNP is the world’s eighth largest bank with 1.98 trillion in total assets. They know how blockchain acts as a financial solution. This is helpful for startups since it takes three years to navigate the hurdles of compliance and regulation. Auger was once an entrepreneur himself. He recommends three best practices for startups to market themselves to corporate clients.
1. Stand Out With Professionalism
It’s no secret that banks are risk averse. ICOs and Venture Capitalists are a better funding solution for early-stage startups. A banks’ top asset is their reputation so they’ll only work with proven performers. Auger said BNP has plenty of resources to help these types of companies.
He pointed out, ”a growth stage startup would have logos of the companies they’ve worked with on their website.” A professional web presence is essential for a startup to win corporate business because large clients are risk averse, too. The wrong technology partner could have negative financial consequences. Case studies can also help a startup display their proven results.
2. Target Managers (Not the C-suite)
Tech companies trying to break into the corporate world have a tendency to go big . According to Auger, this is a mistake. Though not politically-correct, you shouldn’t bother with the C-suite. It’s much better to get your foot in the door with a manager and build from there.
He warns, “If the problem you’re offering to solve is too big you’ll end up having to convince more than one person.” Each additional decision-maker may have their own agenda. Others may not have an innovative mindset or be willing to work with a startup.
Striking a partnership with a large corporate means working with a specific manager. Managers function in a very specific role and have a very specific problem to solve. Focusing all your energies on them saves you time and effort. Solve their problem and it’ll will be easier to sell to other managers in other companies.
3. Sell to the Individual (Not the company)
Buyers have a split personality. They have a responsibility to their employer but they could be down-sized at any time. So their ultimate responsibility is to themselves. The right product could mean fewer late nights at the office. Or, it might mean fewer complaints from their overworked staff. Further, they could get promoted and enjoy a pay raise.
What’s more, Auger advises “You must solve a specific enough problem, but with consideration given to the scope of a manger’s responsibilities. This is especially true for financial services.” So, it’s important to understand the environment you’re trying to sell to. It would be wise to hire a former corporate employee who can provide strategic guidance.
The BNP Innovation Lab helps entrepreneurs with exactly this kind of advice. But they’re careful about what advice they give. “If we screw up the relationship for a startup, we screw up our own reputation. And this could ruin a lot of future opportunities for us.” Auger’s understanding of his clients’ needs saves both groups a lot of time spent in meetings.
Get Access to Enterprise Blockchain Markets
A smart move for a growth stage startup is to partner with an established corporate client. But you must have the right solution, be in the right place at the right time and know the right people.
Business buyers have a lot to think about before they can buy. They must consider what their company needs, how the product works and how much it costs. A decision-maker may want to innovate, but they’re also worried about what can happen to them if things go wrong.
You don’t need billions in investment like Netscape had to succeed. The innovation Lab from BNP Paribas helps startups connect the dots. And they may be able to give you a first-class introduction to one of their corporate clients.
Try Arnaud Auger’s top three sales strategies for enterprise blockchain markets. Be professional, focus on the manager level and sell to the individual not the company. Done right, your startup can be part of the next disruptive innovation success story.