[351] How to get corporate clients (and why you should) with Dylis Guyan

Do you like the idea of working with corporate clients but feel unsure how to get started? Perhaps you've heard it's difficult to break into the corporate world or that these type of clients take too long to make decisions. Or maybe you feel like you can't make a big enough difference in the world by working with corporates (hint: if you're not earning enough money, you can't help anyone).

If any of this resonates with you, you'll love this podcast interview with international sales and marketing expert Dylis Guyan. In it she busts some myths on working with corporates and gives you step-by-step advice on how to get started - from finding your ideal clients to sending a pitch email to handling a successful sales meeting.

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode}

About Dylis Guyan

After many years working in sales in the financial services industry Dylis Guyan decided to set up her own consultancy. In the early days of the internet, all she had was a telephone and a copy of the Yellow Pages. So she picked up the phone and started calling people.

Her first piece of business was with Allied Dunbar. Since then she’s gone on to work with big brands like Aviva, Barclays and Thornton’s Chocolates - helping them improve their sales.

Around six years ago, she began to feel tired with the travelling. So she decided to change her business model and help small businesses sell to bigger businesses. She now does this alongside working with a small number of corporate clients.

Why work with corporate clients

In a time when everyone wants to generate passive income through online courses and memberships, many business owners are resistant to the idea of working with corporates. But Dylis thinks they are missing out. Working with corporates can be great for the following reasons:

  • They generally have bigger budgets
  • They are generally less attached to their budget (unlike small business owners who may have to decide between buying your service and a family holiday). This means decisions can often be made more quickly and easily  
  • There are more opportunities (once you work with one department/division, you’re much more likely to get hired to work with another)

Corporates love working with small business owners because they are flexible, passionate about what they do and are practitioners at what they teach/consult on, says Dylis.

How to find corporate clients

Dylis suggests starting with a niche - where you specialise in working with a particular type of industry (she started with financial services). Once you’re established in that niche you can always pivot/expand. But when you’re first starting out, it’s generally easier to get hired if you’re seen as an expert in a particular area. It also makes it easier to find clients.

Once you’ve defined your niche, make a list of companies you’d love to work with. Connect with them on LinkedIn and set up a Google Alert for news about those companies. This will help you identify ‘trigger events’ e.g. new hires, financial reports, new investments that you can use in your initial ‘pitch’ message.

For example, Dylis recalls seeing a Google Alert about a company she wanted to work with. In the Executive Summary, the chairman was quoted as saying they were being negatively affected by currency fluctuation. She referred to this in her pitch email and was invited in to the company to present to the board. Later she was told that they were impressed with her knowledge of their company.

Getting introductions from friends

Once you’ve decided on a niche, asking for referrals/introductions from friends can be an easy way to get started. So if you want to work with Oxford University, for example, have a look at your connections to see if you’re connected to anyone who has worked for them and go from there.

If you already have a relationship with an organisation you’d love to work with, reach out and ask if they could spare 10-15 minutes to discuss some research you've been doing in their industry. That conversation may well turn into new business.

Finding the right person to pitch to

In most industries, there are generally only two or three people who might make a decision to hire a coach/consultant, says Dylis. So if you focus on a specific niche, you’ll quickly recognise those roles and be able to find the right person in any company you approach. Most times, it’s easy to find them on LinkedIn or elsewhere online. Even if you can’t find their email address, you’ll be able to work out the email format from other company email addresses.

If you’re really stuck, just pick up the phone and ask. You can also ask for referrals from friends/colleagues.

Getting the right person to talk to is vital, as you don’t want to waste hours of your time in a sales meeting, only to find the decision maker is on out of the country for the next four weeks.

What to include in your pitch email

Dylis encourages starting your pitch with a trigger event (as discussed above), a piece of research or a referral. For example Glynis uses a piece of research that shows 18.6%  of salespeople leave their company every year - which has a huge impact on profits.

Then you need to raise interest, by showing what you can help with. For example:

"I typically reduce attrition rates by 50% and shorten the onboarding process by seven months.’

Dylis suggests using words like: increase, decrease, shorten, lengthen, expand, reduce - all of which suggest  a tangible change/benefit.

If you haven’t worked with corporates before, Dylis advises using percentages e.g. ‘I’ve helped reduce absence by 50%.’ (even if you’ve only worked with small teams - a result is still a result, after all).

Dylis recommends keeping your email short (no more than 100 words) and using bullet points where possible. Always include a call-to-action at the end e.g. ‘Give me a call if you’d like discuss’ and offer an alternative e.g. ‘If not, I’ll call you on Thursday at 2pm.’

What to do if you don’t get a response to your pitch

This is perfectly normal, says Dylis. In fact, research shows only 2% of people buy on first contact and it takes between five and 12 contacts to make the sale. That is why she suggests a multiple contact strategy that includes:

  • Connecting on LinkedIn
  • Connecting on other social media platforms
  • Liking, commenting and sharing on prospective clients’ posts
  • Sending a follow up letter or postcard
  • Follow up messages by phone, email, LinkedIn Messenger

The more committed you are to getting an answer (whether that is ‘no’, ‘yes’ or ‘not right now’) the more successful you’ll be in the long run.

If you’re scared of rejection, remember that if someone says ‘no’ it’s not a rejection of you. It’s just a rejection of your service at this point in time.

How to handle a sales meeting

If your pitch is successful and you are invited in for a meeting or a Zoom/Skype call, most of the meeting should be focused on your client and understanding what they need help with.

Dylis warns against the dangers of doing a “product dump” and talking about your product/services too soon in the conversation. If you do a presentation, this should happen right at the end of the meeting and only when you have fully understood the prospective clients’ needs - and handled objections before they are even raised.

She suggests asking open questions that allow you to uncover the impact of the problem you are hoping to solve for them. So if you want to go in and train a company’s sales team, you need to get to the bottom of what the current problem is and how it is currently impacting on the business and the individuals who work there. You need to do this before you even raise the subject of your product/service - and you need to go beyond business. 

For example, if you were speaking to a sales director about training their under-performing staff, this would mean finding out how he/she is being affected personally by being in charge of an under-performing sales team - as well as professionally - e.g. having to stay late at work every night which might be causing tension in their relationship.

People buy on emotion, so get them to paint an ideal picture of what they’d like the business/workplace to look like, then ask them what might stop them getting there. At this point you might add some other questions like,: "How important is this to you?", or, "What level of priority is it? What would happen if you did nothing and maintain the status quo?"

When you have fully understand the problems and are talking about how you can help, weave in stories and case studies that demonstrate how you have helped similar businesses (or helped solve similar problems).

If you have handled the first part of the meeting well, you should find you have dealt with many objections before they have even been raised. But if you do face an objection, don't fight against it, says Dylis. Find the real reason. So if they say, "I might need to think about this", you can reply with "I can understand that. This is a big decision. But what is it exactly that I haven't explained clearly to you? Or is there something that I haven't covered?" If the price is too high... "I can understand this. It is a big purchase. Tell me, how much too high or compared to what? Or tell me more? What makes you say that?"

How to finish a sales meeting

At the end of any sales meeting, you should always agree your next steps - whether that is for you to submit a proposal or set up another call. Don’t leave anything to chance - get times and dates in the diary and clarify that everyone involved understands what you’ve agreed.

And do remember that, ultimately, this isn’t about you, says Dylis. “It's all about being 100% client-focused. This is not about you, it's not about your company, it's not about your product or service. This is genuinely caring about your prospective client and beyond, when they become a client. Really giving that client care that will position you way above your competitors.”


Dylis Guyan's website 

Dylis Guyan on LinkedIn 

Find Clients Who Can Afford Your Prices 

Why are you afraid of sales (and what to do about it)

Build Your Audience Programme



Social Media Video Engagement Playbook 

Social Media Engagement Playbook

LinkedIn Content Strategy Playbook

Build Your Audience Live Event

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