Are you qualified?
Many corporations are proactive in identifying and doing business with diverse suppliers. Selling to these corporations can be a great source of revenue for minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, service disabled veteran owned, and LGBT-owned businesses. To get those contracts, you have to understand and navigate the process successfully.
- Develop or update your business plan. The very first step that a company needs to take when considering moving into a large new market is to ensure that the company’s business plan supports the initiative. This means you should analyze the corporate structure, financial status, administrative capabilities, production and distribution capabilities, and delivery methods to determine if you can sustain a long-term commitment to a marketing effort that may not produce revenue for several years and then deliver as promised when you have an opportunity.
- 2-3 years of commercial experience. Newly formed companies should not target a large specialized market, such as major corporations as their initial market. Corporate buyers are risk adverse and have no incentive to take a chance on a new company. They need to know that they are dealing with a company that has a successful track record delivering their goods or services.
- Electronically capable. A professional looking, user-friendly web site is absolutely necessary. Your web site needs to convey what products or services you offer, provide a sense of the vision of the business, and some indication of past performance. Use an Internet provider that is capable of transmitting large files and provides a professional business appearance – personal Internet services such as AOL or Hotmail are generally not adequate to handle online business transactions.
- Financially stable. Corporate purchasing agents are looking to buy the best possible goods and services at the best price. Ensure that your company is able to sustain the financial obligations required to work through the purchasing process before entering the corporate marketplace.
- Good customer mix. Large specialized markets like the corporate arena can make dramatic shifts in their focus based on the economic climate. If a company is too dependent on these markets, a shift of emphasis to respond to major changes can be devastating. To ensure business stability over the long term, it is recommended that the business have a well balanced mix of revenue streams.
How do you get started?
- Develop a winning strategy – What products/services like yours has your target corporation purchased in the past? Do you qualify for the corporation’s supplier diversity program? Do they buy your products/services directly or through their Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers? Answers to questions like these are necessary to develop a winning strategy, guide your target marketing, and give you a competitive edge.
- Register with your target corporations’ vendor database once you become certified.
- Market to corporations – With a good understanding of what your target corporation purchases, contact their Supplier Diversity Manager to learn how to do business with the corporation.
- Identify and respond to opportunities – Be prepared so that when you have an opportunity to bid on a contract, you have resources in place and can respond within the time restraints with your best price.
- Get bonding and financing – Obtaining financing and bonding for your business can be challenging and will take time and resources. You may need to consider a number of options. Be sure to start early and work it in parallel to your marketing efforts.
Orange County SBDC’s training and consulting services assists businesses to develop a corporate marketing strategy for selling to corporations and their Tier 1and Tier 2 Suppliers. Further, we assist with certification, marketing, and introduction to corporate Supplier Diversity Managers, and obtaining appropriate financing for working capital or building and equipment purchase, as well as, bonding when required.
Information resources and networking opportunities help business clients stay abreast of the ever changing corporate marketplace. Orange County SBDC sponsors “matchmaking” events, providing critical opportunities to connect with corporate Supplier Diversity Managers.
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