Help us navigate the large corporation world!
February 14, 2011 12:53 AM   Subscribe

Looking for the best route to contact large corporations for sales of an R&D solution. If I were a small company with a patented product that could revolutionize how certain industry giants could do business, how would I find the right contact inside the company that would take the time to listen to me?

Sorry for the vagueness of the question, I am limited on what I can mention. The basics are that a small company that I am associated with has an R&D developmental solution that could really make large changes to the products that some industrial giants are selling and using. However due to the small size of the company, they are worried that they will not get heard.

How would they:

1) Find the correct person in the web of 100s/1000s of employees in the large corporations directories?

2) Get those people to respond, without getting shuffled around the company or put into voicemail hell?

They're basically looking for the most efficient way for large companies to take a moment and listen to their proposal. Any and all suggestions are more than welcome. Thanks in advance!
posted by wile e to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Trade shows and research conferences.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:02 AM on February 14, 2011

Find a good lawyer or publicist.
posted by phaedon at 1:03 AM on February 14, 2011

I don't know if you have a budget but there are outsourced sales companies that specialize in doing this exact thing, contacting executives. MeMail me if you'd like me to put you in touch with someone.
posted by XMLicious at 1:23 AM on February 14, 2011

I used to work in a large R&D organisation. Often I would get contacted by individuals and small organisations who had particular solutions that they would like us to buy.

First I'd like to agree with Blazecock Pileon: if you can find a trade show or conference where people from your target industry will be attending/presenting then try to be there. The events are set up to facilitate contacts of the sort you are trying to make and there will often be both senior management and technical specialist present.

The gatekeepers to getting your idea accepted are normally the technical specialists who have the job of working out whether your idea is something their employer should buy into (as opposed to ignore or duplicate). Be aware that screening proposals such as yours is probably not their full time job, that they are probably only interested in proposals that fall directly in their specialism and that they also probably see many proposals. Your best chance of success is normally to work out a way of giving them a great demo and then arming them with printable material which clearly explains that you are offering.

The person you need to convince finally will be somebody at executive level. These people will be even busier than the technical specialists and will be snowed with unsolicited proposals. They will probably ask their technical specialists to review these.
posted by rongorongo at 2:40 AM on February 14, 2011

Thirding the trade show/conference route, with a bit of human nature spin added.

Like service industries, there's a bit of misdirection involved where you will more successful if you let people "discover" you than if you bring your solution into their face. If they "find" you, they are more likely to see you as a possible solution to their problem than if you approach first and tell them about their problems and how you can solve them. Like I said, human nature.

So put yourself in a highly visible place where you can be "discovered" by these potential buyers. They will feel smart.
posted by rokusan at 5:53 AM on February 14, 2011

First, hire a patent attorney and file a patent application. Preferably do this before you do any marketing of your idea outside of your company. You patent attorney can tell you about all of the horrible things that can befall your IP rights by failing to timely file a patent application or by making improper disclosures of your idea. Once you have filed you can be more comfortable marketing the idea without a confidentiality agreement which may assist you marketing. Discuss all this with the attorney. Each situation has its own unique circumstances.

I have been on the receiving end of such marketing and from my experience people who walk in with a patent application already filed are taken far more seriously than people who have not taken the time and effort to file. The filing also provides you with greater protection against an unscrupulous or more often careless company that would listen to your idea, send you away, and then implement it anyway without paying you. A patent almost always trumps a non-disclosure agreement in such situations, although it can be nice to have both weapons at your disposal.

When approaching large companies for such ideas the people you want to reach are typically the VPs of R&D or New Business Development. You probably won't actually negotiate with that person but they are the ultimate gate keepers.
posted by caddis at 6:58 AM on February 14, 2011

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