When a Fortune 500 company selects suppliers and partners to be a part of their business community, the selection mechanism revolves around rigid sets of criteria that ensure new products or services will not cause disruption to operational infrastructure, business processes, regulatory obligations, management and most importantly, the interests of its clients. Occupying the Fortune list in the first place means that these corporations earn multi-million and billion dollar revenues. What we should quickly grasp is that the size of these revenues also demonstrates the enormity of internal operations and provides a window into the myriad of interconnected supporting activities that fuel the complex business machinery. Therefore, a successful supply of products or services to Fortune 500 companies is contingent upon the consideration of their impact along the entire value chain. Some of us may already be familiar with the long sales cycle needed to close a deal with Fortune 500 companies. This may involve several months of risk assessment to ensure that a new product or service meant for one operational aspect will to continue to achieve the overall business objectives. A Fortune 500 company would also focus on whether the product or service, together with the supplier’s business culture, is able to fit perfectly into its business processes. Supplying to a Fortune 500 company is more than just about filling gaps in the market. It is about tailoring the products or services to integrate with other related processes that have direct or indirect influence on or are affected by them within the company.
1. Understanding the General Business Strategy
It cannot be emphasised enough the importance of performing background research to understand the general business, manufacturing and supply chain strategies of Fortune 500 companies. A well-conducted research will provide a peek into the company’s relationship with their suppliers, supplier selection criteria, supplier responsibility expectations, audit policies and approval process. If the Fortune 500 client is already using a similar product, learn about how they apply this product, in what ways it has benefited them, how it blends with related systems and the support provided by their current supplier. This can be done by speaking to company personnel although, unfortunately, most Fortune 500 companies have a policy of not revealing the names, telephone numbers and e-mails of their staff. That does not sound very helpful, but do not be disheartened by this minor hurdle!
You could speak instead to somebody from the purchasing department or client management to understand the company’s business and operational agendas, and what critical problems need to be solved. Send them educational materials about the products or services as well as other promising opportunities in the marketplace. I need to stress that this is not sales cold-calling but a call to inquire and learn more about the purchasing culture of the company.
2. Evaluating Your Product or Service
After gaining these valuable insights into the needs of Fortune 500 companies, it is vital to then evaluate whether you as a supplier are able to meet the expected service responsibilities. Have your products or services been failure-proofed and can they perform to specifications. What other value-add options do you need to build around the product or service? There is a need to transform this information into a strategic direction and action to develop conceptual designs and transformation solutions that can be successfully implemented across the client organisation. Engage the client during the developmental process and maintain regular communication with them. Constant contact will not only help you seek their opinion, but also keeps them close to the evolution of your product or service and its advantages. This also provides you with the golden opportunity to play an advisory role to the client, by sharing your expertise on which solutions could benefit their future capabilities, and determining a transformation roadmap or implementation plan to move the client to the desired future state.
3. Developing an Integrated Business Model
In developing an integrated or blended business model, the supplier needs to establish internal processes surrounding its products and services that would enable uninterrupted installation, ongoing performance and support as if supplier and client are part of the same organisation. To achieve this level of success, the supplier first needs to consider whether the client can now depend on it as the sole provider. What resources does the supplier have at its disposable to guarantee dedicated service on the terms set by the client? Seamless handover from design to implementation needs to occur without loss of knowledge and disruption especially during transition. Can the client count on the supplier to deliver manpower and expertise that is commensurate with the nature of the services being provided and at the appropriate phase in the lifecycle? This includes recruiting employees with the ability to respond to client demands and resolve complaints at the required time. If continuous improvement is a matter of high priority to the client, your company as a supplier must be ready to provide value-add services such as training, educational materials and upgrades to boost client experience and knowledge, as well as bring greater productivity and efficiency through your products or services.
Luefschuetz, G.S., ‘Selling Professional Services to the Fortune 500: How to Win in the Billion-Dollar Market of Strategy Consulting, Technology Solutions, and Outsourcing Services’. (McGraw-Hill, 2010) USA.
About Nealda Yusof
Dr. Nealda Yusof is a business and technology writer who has expertise in developing business plans, evaluating technology, establishing business processes and performing market literature research. She owns a small business BeegBee Technology Alliances. For more information about BeegBee Technology Alliances and its solutions, visit www.BeegBee.com.
Follow Nealda Yusof at Twitter: https://twitter.com/BeegBeeTech