Small Business Growth

Fears About Bigger Sales to Bigger Customers

“What are the top three fears of a CEO who’s thinking about implementing The Whale Hunters Process in their company?”

That was a great question from someone in the Vistage group I presented to yesterday.  We were working on what scares whales, and someone raised the question–what scares small business CEOs?  Here’s what I think those fears are, in order of their importance:

1.  How can I present this to my sales and management team?

Often a CEO who attends a Whale Hunters presentation gets really excited about the process and methodology of business development through bigger customers and bigger deals.  It makes sense intuitively, and CEOs are typically drawn to stories (like the whale hunting story) and cultural analogies.  But then they imagine going back to their sales people or the CFO with this story about “let’s hunt whales”–and they know they’re going to get pushback.

What’s the best way to address this fear?  Have a whale hunter come in and present the program to your cross-functional team.  Make it a team decision, not a boss decision.  Without the team’s buy-in, your efforts are fruitless.

2.  Isn’t it risky to put so much effort and resource into one big account?

Whale Hunting isn’t about landing a single whale; it’s about gearing up for a steady diet of whales.  But there’s a start-up period, and many CEOs worry about how whale hunting could disrupt their existing business or draw resources away from their current key accounts.

How to address this fear?  Two-part answer. One, we don’t suggest you hunt only one whale or survive on one whale.  You will still fish along the way.  It’s not an either/or strategy but a both/and strategy.  Two, talk to other whale hunting company CEOs about their experience.  They can help you see how it worked in their company.

3.  What if we sell a really big deal and we don’t have the resources to deliver? 

Savvy CEOs know that a sale is only as good as their company’s capacity to deliver.  So to go after bigger deals as a growth strategy means they need to be prepared to ramp up in some ways that could be costly and uncomfortable.  And they worry about how their team will react to getting a really big deal in the door.

Unquestionably, whale hunting will accelerate your need to grow support as well as providing revenue.  The answer to this question is that whale hunting is a management strategy, not just a sales process.  The method anticipates and encompasses the downstream delivery of products and/or services to the whale.

Do you have a fear about whale hunting?  Please feel free to share it here.  If you have examples of how you or your colleagues overcame fear, I’d love to hear about it.