How can my small firm be taken seriously?

We’re a relatively small company less than three years old and employing 32 people, but we’ve recently started to target large corporations. Have you got any tips to help ensure we’re taken seriously and deliver on their expectations?

A. Graham Long of HP writes:

There is no real disadvantage in being a small company. In fact, many large corporations often learn best practice from small, enthusiastic, energetic companies. When you approach a large corporation do not sell yourself short. It is vital to build a partnership based on trust and common goals, which can be developed regardless of size. Take pride in the characteristics and quirks you have as a small company, your perceived flexibility will be viewed in a positive light.

If you have relatively limited experience of working with large corporations you will need to demonstrate you understand the difference in business processes and dynamics for this market. Take your time to research the company and its structure. You need to understand how a particular company will benefit from working with you and also who drives the decision-making process. In large companies, bureaucracy means the decision making process can be lengthy and you need to take this into account.

Make sure you secure time with senior management but use it effectively – use an agenda to make the most of your time and avoid calling with minor queries. Establish a regular reporting structure to one or two points of contact but also consider the many branches of the company, how can you communicate the impact that you can or are making on the company to a wider audience?

In terms of managing expectations, make sure there is visibility of the work being done on both sides of the relationship. You need to set measurable targets early on that can be reviewed on a regular basis. This will set goals for your team and ensure that if senior management ask for a performance assessment you can use this as a reference point.


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