Closing deals early and quickly can make or break your startup. It is great to have a pipeline of deals, especially strategic, larger deals that can help you scale faster than you could on your own. However, you have to be able to walk a fine line when signing a much larger partner because of the risk and pressure it puts on your team AND technology. Here are some things to keep in consideration, especially for enterprise:
Push your limits: Large partners are great to have, especially early. Your initial reaction would be the opposite because of the risk involved and the fact that you may not be 100% ready. You have to realize that this pressure is great for your startup because it gets you moving faster than you would on your own. It will help push the threshold of what both your team and technology are capable of if you can balance their demands with your capabilities.
Understand needs: It is critical that you clearly understand your partners needs and intentions. Their needs are more transparent because they will have to explain what they are looking for. However, their intentions are not always aligned with their needs. Since it is uncommon for large partners to work with early stage startups, they obviously have intentions that may not be aligned with your long-term goals. You need to make sure during the negotiation process that you are candid about where you are taking your company to make sure both parties are completely aligned.
Your technology is key: At the end of the day it is all about your technology, which is a huge function of the quality of your team. Large companies cannot iterate and build new technology or platforms as fast as a startup can. That’s the beauty of the large opportunities out there in enterprise. However, you absolutely have to have the foresight to build your team and your technology with the long terms needs of larger partners in mind. You have to make it bullet proof and scalable. Very scalable.
One last thing to keep in mind when working on closing a big deal. Don’t look desperate or too excited. Keep calm and play hard to get. You and your team are the ones with the advantage in that you have either superior or complementary technology. Keep those cards ready.