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Learning the Secrets of Enterprise Sales at the Microsoft Accelerator – Tel Aviv

Startups meet Microsoft executives at the Enterprise Sales Workshop

There is a chasm between the nimble, fail-fast world of startups and that of global enterprise organizations. These two widely different categories of businesses have different cultures and paces of innovation. Most importantly, they have very different sales cycles with startups focusing on speed and flexibility while enterprises carefully deliberating on the challenges of integrating new technologies into their existing platforms. So, for B2B startups it can prove especially challenging to develop sales and go-to-market strategies that account for these differing priorities, cultures, and communication styles while building a sales team that can exist with a foot in each world.

In order to help startups bridge the gap between these two worlds, Microsoft for Startups hosted over 45 companies at a workshop on Enterprise Sales in Tel Aviv. The event, which was organized by the Success Management team and Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner (OCP), featured presentations by Microsoft executives highlighting strategies and tactics startups can use to boost their enterprise sales as well as providing insights into Microsoft programs available to startups to help them scale their sales efforts.

Christelle Lemaire, presenting at the workshop

The event featured a presentation by Christelle Lemaire, Partner Sales Director, Microsoft Europe, who delivered a talk on core principles startups can implement in their sales efforts to enterprises. Lemaire discussed the balance between technique and the art of sales when targeting enterprise customers and emphasized that a solid foundation of tactics can outweigh any need for artistry in sales.

In her talk, Lemaire also detailed the different roles clients can play in a sales cycle and how that can affect the decision-making process enterprises go through. These roles include, approvers, decision makers, evaluators, and users, and each type of client can have either a positive, neutral, or negative perspective on the process. In that regard, it is critical for startups to be able accurately identify the final decision maker and the individual who owns the budget for the project, she said.

Additionally, she walked participants through techniques that can be used to defuse tense moments or points of conflict during negotiations. Specifically, she recommended the use of silence, which even though it can feel uncomfortable, is a powerful tool to tamp down emotion in a sales meeting that has become heated.

Other presentations were provided by Shmulik Goldstein, Partner Developer Manager, Microsoft Global; and Nofar Amikam, Startups Success Manager, Microsoft for Startups. Participating startups were also matched with Microsoft experts who provided one-on-one guidance and advice on enterprise sales and ways for startups to partner with Microsoft as they engage with the enterprise community.

Commenting on her experience at the event, Christelle Lemaire said. “Meeting with startups is my oxygen; my fresh air. It brings me energy since the people I meet working with startups are so smart and I have the feeling they are going to shape the world of tomorrow. The startups I met with at the event today seem to be mature and advanced startups who are well along in the process of learning and growing. So, the issues I have been able to discuss with them are specific challenges they have encountered in their sales process and are looking to solve, and where I can help startups is by providing them with techniques to help them achieve their goals. Coming here, to see these super mature and very successful startups is a real chance to get feedback, insights, and their view of the world, so it’s very enriching for me.”

The startup participants also commented on the lessons they learned about ways to partner with Microsoft in their enterprise sales efforts. Erez Alsheich, VP of Product at Equalum, discussed the value of the real-world insights he gained from the presentations. “We’re a young company, so as much as we have our own individual experiences working with enterprises, Christelle has been working with enterprises for so many years and it was clear that her takeaways came from first-hand experience,” he said.

Equalum is the leading Data Beaming platform, relied upon by enterprises across industries to seamlessly teleport operational data to real-time analytics environments. The company, which is a Microsoft Accelerator Tel Aviv alum and participant in the Microsoft for Startups Success program, recently completed a $5 million “A” funding round. “We consider Microsoft a strategic partner. Our offering fits well with Microsoft’s strategy and the partnership helps us simplify the engagement with large enterprises. So, finding out more about the programs that are in place and how we can accelerate our work with Microsoft is very important to us,” Alsheich said.