What Is Enterprise Selling?

by David Ingram; Updated September 26, 2017
Happy asian businesswoman presenting bar chart to colleagues

Sales is the facet of business concerned with finding potential customers in the marketplace, informing them about product and service offerings and facilitating sales transactions. Enterprise selling focuses specifically on high-volume or high-dollar sales to business customers, often through long-term contractual relationships. Understanding enterprise selling can open a world of profitable opportunities for your business.

Transactional vs. Enterprise Selling

To fully understand enterprise selling, it is necessary to understand its polar opposite, transactional selling. Transactional selling is concerned with selling single products and services, or small bundles. Transactional sales models serve a large number of customers with relatively small individual transactions. Marketing and sales promotions drive volume in transactional selling models.

Enterprise selling, on the other hand, involves a highly collaborative, personalized approach to selling products or services to businesses. Enterprise sales rely on personal salesmanship to produce a relatively small number of high-revenue transactions.

Prospecting is Paramount

Prospecting plays a large role in the success of enterprise sales. While transactional sellers often target the end-users of their products, enterprise sellers target purchasing managers, chief financial officers and business owners, who are generally very busy and can be difficult to reach. Enterprise sellers learn to work their way through the administrative layers of an organization to get in contact with an individual who has the desire, funds and authority to make a purchase decision for the organization.

Collaborate to Succeed

Most enterprise sales transactions involve highly consultative and collaborative approaches. Enterprise sellers get to know their customers inside and out, performing extensive research, often on their customers' premises, before custom-tailoring a product or service for their client.

To highlight the collaborative aspect of enterprise sales, consider the computer network hardware industry. A transactional seller in this industry may sell individuals routers, cables and other equipment to individual buyers. An enterprise seller in this industry would likely spend days on-site at newly constructed office buildings, implementing a custom design for the building's infrastructure and charging an overall price for the service rather than charging for each installed component.

Time Frames

Time frames for all aspects of the sales process are longer in enterprise sales. The shopping and decision-making process for buyers is more drawn out, as buyers take their time and research multiple options before spending large sums of their companies' money. Delivery times for enterprise-focused products can be longer, as the products may need to be built from the ground up according to custom specifications. The relationship between buyers and sellers can be longer for enterprise sales, as well, as sellers get to know buyers' needs and are able to serve them more effectively than competitors in the future.

About the Author

David Ingram has written for multiple publications since 2009, including "The Houston Chronicle" and online at Business.com. As a small-business owner, Ingram regularly confronts modern issues in management, marketing, finance and business law. He has earned a Bachelor of Arts in management from Walsh University.

Photo Credits

  • Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images