Monday, July 16, 2012

Professional Persistence Pays Off When Chasing Whales

The whales take time and perseverance to tackle but the longterm payoff is worth the work. I was part of an organization years ago when I decided to target 3 major accounts that the organization had never been able to close. I was actually told I was wasting my time by some of the executives. "You are following a path already blazed on the shoulders of giants," the CEO told me. Everyone at the organization had made efforts including the executives for 7 years but to no avail. This did not deter my efforts and I continued to target a web of contacts and avenues within the prospects. I closed all three accounts within a year and a half at which point the CEO changed his tone. They were bound to close because of the work done before me "on the shoulders of giants". He's a funny character!

What was different in the approach that made the difference:

1. Do not peddle your "stuff" - The challenge in the past was that these organizations had solutions or processes in place to address the business problems addressed by the products and services offered

2. Take the time to understand the current goals, initiatives, issues, challenges at the organization from multiple angles. Complete this exercise with all relevant players

3. Review consistencies in objectives and concerns to find a way to align your offerings to current goals, initiatives, issues, challenges at the organization rather than create a need for your solutions when none exists in the prospects mind

4. You have to sell the link and the chain will follow. Find the hook and focus there and the rest of the business will follow

5. Sell them what they need.

  • One of the clients bought a solution that resolved a problem that was a perfect match for our solution but was perceived as an independent and unassociated issue. In winning that business we secured all the business and displaced 2 competing vendors in the process . When I initially approached the CIO he had emailed me that they already had everything we offered. Four months later he signed my sales order. I did have an opportunity to bring this up with him and he laughed. As the CIO of a Fortune 500 organization, he gets bombarded with vendor requests and without an established relationship you get the auto pilot response.

  • Another of the 3 was a large financial institution that was a difficult prospect but a great client. They were the bane of my existence as a prospect. Finding business across the organization and delivering built us a great reputation and positioning which ultimately lead to the big win. It was one small win at a time but before the big order came in, they had already spent over $250k broken down into dozens of orders. Earn the right to do business and it will pay off in the end. 

6. Build a web of relationships to protect your position, understand a broader spectrum of goals, initiatives, issues, challenges at the organization, and become a partner in the boardroom rather than a vendor in the hallway. Determination and persistence will drive great results in the long run but make sure you have the gap fillers to sustain your pipeline in the mean while.

Thoughts to ponder!

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