Sunday, October 30, 2005

Landing the BIG Account

How to Sell the Majors

Every sales professional who is interested in earning a substantial living salivates at the idea of landing the "big account."
For most of those same salesfolks, however, the idea of making that call is about as appealing as eating crushed glass. The best part of such a fear on the part of most means that the few who are willing to take the risk of rejection at the top levels have fewer competitors.

I first learned this concept in high school. I wasn't the prettiest face on campus, didn't letter in any sports, and weighed a wopping 105 pounds at 5'10" when I graduated. Somehow, though, I was able to date all the most prized young women. As I reviewed this unlikely combination, I could see that most of my male friends didn't even have the nerve to approach the top prospects.

So, lesson one - Make the call. The worst thing they can say is, "no." But they can't say, "yes" until you make an offer.


Be prepared. Know your stuff, and review sales motivational literature before a major call. This buyer is used to hearing from people who are professional. Make sure you know obvious things about the company, and maybe hit the internet in advance to learn some less obvious things. Be certain to ascertain the need. Do not just jump in with product ideas or details of how you can offer better service or price or terms or whatever. Find out what this buyer needs that he isn't getting or may not have even thought about before you arrived.

Buyers in big companies are more likely to be interested in their job track than in the company. Be sure as you listen to the needs, you take into consideration how this will make him look good. How will you save him time? Who, exactly, will be interested in his success or failure on this project?


Make sure that your company is prepared to deal at this level. Are there demands and requirements that are beyond the scope of your company's infrastructure? Can you handle the financing? Will they require so much of your time that you will mishandle your smaller accounts? Have you established a solid base of Suppliers who you can count on for quality, on time delivery, and rushes.


Do you have a large enough base of business to be able to not be dependent on a single account. When we first opened our business, we decided we would not go after any majors until we had $1,000,000 in sales from solid small and medium sized accounts. From that point forward, we also have tried to limit our exposure from any one account to 10% of our total business. That way, if they change buyers, go out of business, or have a very bad year, we still have 90% of our business coming in strong.

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