If you’re a business owner or sales executive, you want to land the “Big One.” You know, that dream customer with a stellar reputation of professionalism and service, and a seemingly unlimited budget. You’ve made it your goal to acquire high-end, high-dollar customers, and it’s possible…, but there is work involved.
During my career, I purchased a small apparel design and production company. I knew that if I was going to turn this little firm around and grow the business significantly, I needed to land a few large customers while maintaining the existing customer base. There was simply too much time and effort required to grow sales from more customers like our current customer profile.
I believed we could land the “Big One.”
Our designs were fashion forward, handmade in the U.S. using the new micro-fibers and French stitching. These garments had a high price point and were worthy of being sold by high-end merchandisers. I also knew we were a small niche design company and would appeal to certain large customers because of our exclusivity. We didn’t sell to mass merchandisers like J.C. Penny’s, Target, or Walmart. We were too expensive for them anyway.
After selecting a few special prospects to focus on, (Hilton Head, Disney World, Nordstrom’s, etc.), I had to educate myself on how large companies function. Then, I had to discover the best approach to selling to them.
Here are the steps I followed to land the “Big One.” I’m sure you can adapt these tactics to your product, service, or industry.
- Build a customer contact list.
I had to probe and build a list of specific people (Decision Makers, not buyers) within the purchasing departments. I had to be willing to make many calls and be resourceful and persistent.
- Develop and send an introductory package.
I created a cover letter stating our points of difference and a sample current customer list. And since I was targeting only a handful of “Big Ones,” I could afford to enclose swatches and designer renderings.
- Make the first call.
I called 2-3 days after the prospect received the package, but had to do some digging to find out if the Decision Maker, or someone with influence, saw my materials. Just because you address the package to the Decision Maker, doesn’t mean that person will see it – especially at a large company.
- Send a second mailing.
Now I’m working to offer this customer detailed information about my company, financial stability, production resources, testimonials confirming margins and sell-through, and a sample of a finished item within the line.
- Set a presentation date.
Two days after the detailed mailing arrived, I called to set up a presentation of the full line. I didn’t ask if they wanted to meet. I assumed they wanted to meet and just asked for a date (and almost always got it).
- Send teaser mail.
For those customers who stalled in setting a firm date for viewing the line, I sent another mailing two weeks after the last phone call. This time, I enclosed different designer renderings and sometimes a preview of next season’s line.
- Make the last call.
Naturally, I followed-up by phone a few days later to make a date for a presentation. At this point, it was rare not to get the meeting.
Using these steps, I successfully acquired several large customers. In addition, I’ve implemented and executed this same strategy with clients in many different industries. It works, and it’s easier than you might think.
Still, many small or mid-sized business owners and sales executives are afraid to go after their dream customers. However, if you’re willing to do the homework, put in the time, and be patient and doggedly persistent, you can land the “Big One!”
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