When building a B2B tech startup, meaningful growth can hinge on your ability to connect with decision-makers at large companies. Startup executives who can build relationships with executives at larger companies can help unlock opportunities that can take your startup to new heights.
Building relationships with decision-makers at enterprise companies isn’t just about software sales or revenue. The product insights and the way your product and service team will evolve to serve enterprise customers can be a gamechanger. And, the learnings you’ll gain about your market from enterprise leaders can help inform strategic decisions about your product and go-to-market approach.
In this article, we’ll share insights from leaders in the Powderkeg community about their best strategies to build relationships with leaders at enterprise companies.
1. Focus on Providing Value
“One effective strategy for building connections and relationships is to focus on providing value. Research and understand their industry challenges, goals, and pain points. Then, approach them with insights, solutions, or ideas that directly address these concerns. By demonstrating your expertise and genuine interest in helping them succeed, you can establish a foundation of trust, making it more likely for them to engage in meaningful conversations and build a lasting relationship.“
Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO & Co-Founder at Casted
“Focus on providing value. This could mean offering valuable insights, connections, or business opportunities. Do your research and personalize your approach. It is also important to be persistent without being pushy. Lastly, maintain a genuine interest in the success of their business. This approach will help you establish a strong foundation for a long-lasting business relationship. Remember, building relationships takes time, so patience and thoughtful follow-up is key.“
Emily Finkelstein, CEO at VentureXpert Advisors
2. Build Trust With Authenticity
“Cultivate a relationship through authenticity. Decision-makers should genuinely understand the person they’re collaborating with. Establishing trust with you, the seller, plays a pivotal role in their choices. Embracing your true self is the most effective path to building that essential trust.“
Logan Pund, VP Growth and Finance at The Engineered Innovation Group
3. Send a Real, Physical “Thank You.”
“Send a real, physical “thank you.” Leaders at this level within their company are very busy people. If you’ve earned a piece of their time, make sure you thank them for it. A handwritten note is going to mean a lot more than an email buried in a sea of other emails. Even better, pay attention when they talk about their families, pets, and other ‘favorites’. Follow up with a small gift of appreciation that shows you were really listening!“
Robin Lanning, VP of Sales & Marketing at Tactive
4. Network at Industry Events
“A good strategy for building connections with key decision makers within Fortune 500 companies is to attend the same events that they do. As an event attendee, you can network with them on a level playing field and get the chance to deliver your elevator pitch. Customize your pitch to their needs and interests, and exchange contact details so you can follow up. “
Glenn Hillyer, Chief Growth Officer, Health In Tech
5. Create Impactful Social Campaigns
“One strategy for effectively building connections and relationships with key decision-makers within Fortune 500 companies is to find creative ways to stand out and get noticed. An unusual example would be harnessing the power of social media platforms by creating fun campaigns that showcase your brand’s distinctiveness—such as having followers post stories about a relevant issue, then sharing it with selected corporate executives. This can demonstrate the impact of your campaign on wider scales and establish a touchpoint with key decision-makers without ever needing direct contact.“
Tasia Duske, CEO, Museum Hack
6. Tap Into Your Networks
“Tapping your network is an incredibly underrated strategy to get closer to key decision-makers. Usually, you’re looking for people that have authority over some departmental budget. While you may not have tons of CEOs in your network, many alumni networks for example have various people with this kind of budget authority. Naturally, they can introduce you to other people, but getting the outreach started is the important thing.“
Trevor Ewen, COO, QBench
In today’s competitive market, establishing meaningful connections with decision-makers at large companies can be an important milestone. When your startup serves larger enterprises, the market insights alone can take your company to the next level of growth.
And, it’s not just about casting a wide net—it’s about taking the time to nurture relationships and add value to the enterprise. Your commitment to understanding their world, consistently delivering value, and being authentic can help unlock these new opportunities.
We hope these insights will help you build relationships with leaders at enterprise companies.
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