Many large companies worry about investing in a product or service provided by a small company. They fear you don't have the staying power. We are only 10 employees but we have many customer success stories including some very large companies. Looking for unique ideas on how to answer this question in a way that plays more to our benefit.
What an awesome question! Businesses are running into this issue more frequently that ever, good news is, it can be done. Having worked on projects with oDesk, Fox Television and Wikipedia and having a very very small staff, it's certainly possible.
Here's how I say it in our pitches to larger organizations:
"Tractive West provides tailored video production services to organizations of all sizes. We have developed a distributed workflow using the latest digital tools. We leverage our small creative and management team with a world wide network of creative professionals, that means we can rapidly scale to meet the demands of any project while keeping our infrastructure and overhead lightweight and sustainable."
Cheers and best of luck.
First of all, why do they know or want to know your size? I'm not saying to lie: I'm saying that if your website says: "We are a 10-person company ...." then you're not leading with your best differentiator. Don't volunteer information many won't ever ask for. If they ask, tell the truth. But what's the truth? If you know they're going to ask, because it's a required DoD question, e.g., then immunize yourself by addressing it first. If you have 11 people, you also have fewer than 25 but more than 10. Never make yourself smaller than you have to be, as it's already obvious you're not a behemoth or they'd have heard of you already. That's why I'm less than 6 feet tall, rather than "taller than 5 feet."
But beyond that, lead with your big company clients. If you tell me that IBM, P&G, Cisco and Merck are your customers, and you've got testimonials from each of them, then that's all you need. Lead with it. They are your complete validation. Now, if they ask about your having 10 people or you need to tell them that, your answer is simple: "That's exactly the question IBM, P&G, Cisco and Merck asked and in fact, they hired us because at only 10 people, we can be <explain what you do better than anyone else>. They've been so happy with us that they've doubled their business with us in the last 3 months. In fact, we expect our company to double in size in the next 12 months (again, assuming that's your actual projection -- use truth to buttress your case)." I've beaten much larger companies out -- for over 30 years -- using precisely these tactics.
Good luck to you. Happy to discuss should you have any questions.
Size doesn't matter. Really. I mean many small companies manage to offer higher quality service than bigger companies. The reason is because they don't work with many clients and they give their best to offer premium service. Many big companies have so many customers that it's really hard for them to deal right with all of them.
So the key here is: communicate the benefit/value of being small. This is at least what I should have done.
Size really does matter from a customer's perspective. I have faced and sold through objections like "what if you run out of money" and "how do we know that you'll be able to scale if we deploy across the whole organization." These are all things that if they are unaddressed, can kill a deal.
With customer success stories with large companies, you are incredibly well-armed to address these concerns.
Here are just a few things smaller companies can do better:
More responsive and personalized customer service and support.
Demonstrate a willingness to listen and move fast to incorporate feedback and new features.
Fix things faster.
If you garner praise from your customers via social media and email, ask them to repost it along with a picture and their first name in a well-designed "praise" area of your site.
In terms of getting through objections raised by a potential customer, your sales team should be encouraged to do anything possible including contractual language in the SLA or a side agreement. These should always be done with consultation of legal counsel but the point is that there are many ways to satisfy a company of the concerns of dealing with a vendor is who is "small but growing"
Happy to talk more about this in a call.
A lot depends on what you are selling. If it's somewhat of a low risk proposition, going with a small company may not be as much of an issue. If you're looking at a higher risk/exposure product or service, a large company will want to make sure you're well capitalized, will back up your product or service, can scale and provide quick response when there are problems. Think of it this way; You're an executive at a large company and you have to meet deadlines and deliver or management is going to be on your back. Do you risk going with a small provider who may have all the issues discussed above or do you go with a large provider with deep pockets and more extensive resources? The best approach for a small company is to really show expertise and quality in your product or service over and above your competitors. You can try to play bigger than you are, but being upfront and really micro-focusing on solving their problems is usually the best approach. The more comfortable they get with your ability to address their problem better than anyone else, the easier the other objections will fall away.
Always play to your strengths and make it be about them (not you). Be prepared to discuss why going with a small firm gives them an advantage. (like Shawn said ... excellent answer)
I have a question for you: Are their fears justified?
You see, the question is not really about size, it's more about the risks associated with size.
Have you honestly laid out all the risks that such companies might face by working with you and asked yourself how you have mitigated those risks? It's a better strategy than deflecting from the facts and hoping the company would take a gamble on you.
If you can lay out for them the risks that you know are true and genuine concerns and can show them how you have addressed those risks in your delivery model (If you have not done this, are you really prepared to handle such large accounts?) you will find that the question of size was never really the problem.
Focus on why they are asking. Ask them specifically what their concerns are - financial stability, response time, availability of your key people for their business, etc. Once you understand the why you can talk to how your company can address it - they really don't care how many people are there - there is another reason they are asking.
I have faced this challenge and have been helping startups and small companies to deal with it.
Large companies worry about your size as they know they will be delaying the payments and want to know if you can still run your operations.
Use the following numbers
1. No of collective years of experience your team has in stead of 10 member team
2. No of employees of your customer base to whom you serve / served. In stead of 20 customers, say that you have been serving a collective employee base of 2000 if avg employees of your customers is 100
3. Look at the largest number which can represent your work. If you are a housekeeping services company, talk about sqft which you cover today.
It is in human nature that when we hear big numbers which are credible, we don't question them. And you can always substantiate these number if challenged.
If you need to discuss this further, please feel free to discuss.
With warm wishes,
My answer would be, that all my people are potential supervisors. If I have 1 electrician only, he eventually become a supervisor of 10, if necessary for bigger customer. And I have vast database of potential subcontract roles available, plus internal process for quick appointment, induction and training.
all the best