The Whale Hunters Process for Large Account Selling

Based on our study of the Inuit whale hunt, and refining the processes through work with clients, we developed The Whale Hunters Process™, a cross-functional marketing and sales process for small and midsize companies that want to grow through bigger deals to bigger customers.

I call the process a Metaphor, Model, and Map. It’s a metaphor because it represents the three major stages and the nine phases of the actual Inuit whale hunt. It’s a model because it works for all B2B companies in all industries. It does not have to be customized or put into a different order or cannibalized in any way in order to work. And it’s a map, because each company will develop its own versions of the phases depending on what they sell and to whom. Every company has different whales, different markets, different marketing and sales materials, different steps in their capture phase or their onboarding from “sew” to “beach,” for example. But although they have surface level differences,  they all operate under the same model.

The model begins in the Scout stage, in the Phase of “Know.” It rotates clockwise, somewhat like gears, through the nine phases as the stylized arrows indicate within the graphic.

large account selling process



  • Know the Whale—Understand current market conditions and competitive environment (know your ocean). Know your company and identify your unique competitive advantages. Create your “target filter” to identify whales that would benefit most from your advantages. Test your target filter against current accounts.


  • Seek the Whale—Identify the roles and responsibilities of all employees in your company. Complete profiles (dossiers) on the target whales. Define whale signs and metrics for the scout’s performance. Incorporate these tools into all your training.


  • Set the Harpoon—Plan the process of proper initial contact with the whale. Manage the aperture of perception (how the whale views your company). Ask great questions. Be prepared to “send the whale to Baja” if the timing is not right. Fish along the way.




  • Ride the Whale—Approach the whale (launch a boat) with the appropriate resources. Analyze the buyers’ table to understand whale fears and define fear busters. Equip subject matter experts to be involved. Prepare account plans and meeting plans. Create metrics for your team’s performance.


  • Capture the Whale—Fine tune steps of progressive discovery and disclosure with your team. Manage the sales process according to your timetable and communicate it to your company. Know when to stop a hunt. Refine proposal processes to increase likelihood of wins. Complete proposals based on fear and advantage.


  • Sew the Mouth Shut—Stage the “big show” to demonstrate your company’s capacity. Anticipate spoilers. Use your “chief” to secure the deal. Stay in front of the whale to keep them interested.




  • Beach the Whale—Prepare your company to begin working with the whale efficiently. Take steps to accelerate the speed and capacity of work. Complete maps for intake processes for seamless transition. Align reward systems within your company to match new roles and responsibilities. Communicate with the whale to allay fears.


  • Honor the Whale—Engage your company to build a fast growth culture. Make and keep promises. Hold a pre-delivery summit with the whale to ensure smooth implementation. Keep your team on board to promote a positive experience.


  • Celebrate the Whale—Conduct an assessment for continuous improvement. Communicate gratitude. Feed your “ravens” or supporters to ensure new business. Grow sales in existing whales. Complete the cycle of service to every whale.


So there you have the explanation of “why whale hunting?” And why we think it’s a great analogy for modern business.