Business Development Strategy

Your Biggest Whale

By October 13, 2008December 29th, 2015No Comments

I presented a workshop last week to a group of owners of small to mid size marketing/advertising/PR firms.  Their biggest business development lament was whale prospects who rejected their pitch because they did not want to be the company’s biggest client.  Has that happened to you?

Coincidentally, today I read an article about Orlando’s Small Business Summit  which included a presentation from Disney World.  They actively seek women and minority businesses and currently work with more than 2000!

But the spokeswoman said,  “We don’t award a contract unless we truly believe they can deliver. “You can put someone out of business by awarding a contract that’s too big.”

So how do you demonstrate to the whale that the proposed contract is not too big for you?  Here are some whale hunting tips:

  • History.  If you’ve had a history of growth fueled by bigger deals with bigger customers, put it on display for the whale.  Explain how you have handled this wonderful problem before.
  • Testimonial.  Put the whale in touch with one or two other big clients, the ones who were your previous biggest ones.  Ask them to talk about how smoothly you handled the ramp up and understood their needs.
  • Process.  Provide excessive detail and timelines about how things will work, who will do what, when it can be expected to happen, what controls you have in place, how you will handle unforeseen problems.  Illustrate the kind of project management tools, tracking systems, and assessment mechanisms that the whale company would expect and find familiar.
  • Boat.  The Whale Hunters refer to “launching your boat” as the analogy to team-based selling to whales.  Be creative about who’s on your boat when you meet with the buyers’ table-perhaps your banker, your HR director and/or staffing company, logistics support, help desk, training and support staff. Be sure you coach them to present as a seamless team dedicated to serving this whale.

Fear trumps advantage.  Allay the whale’s fears about being too big for you, and you will have smooth sailing to demonstrate the benefits of how you plan to serve your biggest customer.