Kermap, a geo-intelligence start-up created in Rennes four years ago, has succeeded in signing contracts with many public bodies, including the Ministry of Agriculture and Cnes, and local authorities including the Grand-Est region and the department of Seine Saint-Denis…
This small specialist in the processing of satellite images and the production of geographical data employs about fifteen people. He was able to break through and adapt to the functioning of large organizations. To the point of aiming for 500,000 euros in turnover in 2021. Antoine Lefebvre, president and co-founder of Kermap, gives his advice for successfully contracting with public or private clients larger than oneself.
#1. Capitalize on your network
Between two interlocutors know each other well, a relationship of trust can be established more quickly. “Our first client was the Bureau of Geological and Mining Research because our managing director, one of the co-founders of Kermap, Nicolas Beaugendre, had already worked with them on a research project in his previous role as an independent consultant,” explains Antoine Lefebvre. . These first customers will also be your best ambassadors. The challenge is to go beyond this first circle.
#2. Find intermediaries
Attacking large structures from the outset means running the risk of “being carried around” blindly from service to service, without result! “You have to make your way through smaller organizations,” says Antoine Lefebvre, who recommends choosing intermediaries.
Kermap has been working for more than a year with the Earthworm Foundation, bringing together large companies committed to implementing responses to environmental and social challenges, such as Nestlé, E. Leclerc and Johnson & Johnson. “A small structure of a hundred people which allowed us to get in touch with one of its members, a giant to whom we would never have had direct access. And even if this example concerns a private actor, it can be transposed to the public sector.
#3. Respond to tenders
A start-up has every chance in a call for tenders (RFP) system, which, by its nature, treats all responses on an equal footing and according to comparable criteria. It is therefore necessary to compel oneself to respond correctly to the expectations of the AO, advises Antoine Lefebvre.
And don’t hesitate to ask for information when you lose. “There were times when we had been eliminated and asked for the evaluation of all the offers and the reasons for our rejection. We even made a referral once to encourage the client to review his rating, ”adds the manager.
#4. Identify the decision-maker
Antoine Lefebvre advises drawing up a map of all the players in the service interested in your offer, with their respective functions, and meeting the decision-maker. “It is tempting to favor the relationship with a technician who is passionate about and seduced by your technology or your product”, explains the manager. However, it is preferable to ensure that you have sensitized the person with decision-making power before contracting, and to ensure that your product or service meets a real need of the organization.
#5. refuse free
“As you are a small company, the large organizations facing you expect, for example, that the proof of concept is free”, relates Antoine Lefebvre. It’s a trap ! We must not give in to this asymmetrical weight of the relationship. On the contrary, it is a question of affirming its value, that of its know-how and of asking a sum, even modest, for any prototype. “It is important to have confidence in your product and to show what you bring to the customer during the negotiation phases to justify the price requested”, emphasizes the entrepreneur.