Case Studies

Wisdom from the Whale

By September 17, 2008December 29th, 2015No Comments

Last week I presented a whale hunting orientation seminar at Arizona State’s Sky Song  Innovation Center in Scottsdale.  It had an interesting twist–the first presenter was my client Margie Traylor of Sitewire, who talked about her company’s growth as a result of whale hunting.  Then after my presentation, we heard from one of the whales that Sitewire landed.  Greg Chapman, now of SkyMall, was the head of Sears’ catalog division when he hired Sitewire Interactive Marketing, a small company, to help him achieve his vision of a totally new approach to online sales and marketing for Sears.  So from the whale’s perspective, Greg talked about why he chose Sitewire and gave advice to other small businesses who want to work with whales.  Some points he made:

  • Bring a big idea — something totally focused on your well-thought out analysis of the whale’s current business.
  • Understand how his day worked at Sears–7 am to 7 pm with no more than an hour a day to return calls and emails.  Get acquainted with his admin assistant, be patient with his response time, follow up appropriately.
  • Assist your whale buyer in making the inside sale to the buyer’s table. Prepare him/her to justify the expense.
  • If you don’t have a sophisticated financial analyst on your team, hire one.  Be well-prepared to demonstrate a detailed, specific ROI and to discuss it intelligently.
  • Understand that the whale is a bureaucracy–after the buyer agrees to the deal, you probably face 60-90 days or more of contract details.  Build that expectation into your cash flow.
  • Heed what The Whale Hunters say about selling to whales (thanks Greg!).

What have you learned from your whales?