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9 Steps to Landing the Huge Client

An Oregon print shop owner shares the keys to catching a whale.

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YOU’VE PROBABLY HEARD of the term “whale” in reference to a job that’s larger than your average sale or client. Most PSPs dream of catching these giant contracts. But how do you go about doing it? Here are my nine key steps toward bringing home the big one.

  1. Nothing beats a top-of-the-line reputation. When past and present clients give you a sterling recommendation to potential clients, you have advanced a couple rungs on the ladder of success.
  2. Don’t sell strictly on price. Make sure you emphasize what, besides competitive price, you offer that sets you apart. This can be something as basic as free delivery or as complex as training or free consulting on a project.
  3. Make sure you understand what the needs of the potential client really are. Do they already have an adequate size digital file, or will they need one? Do they need help in finishing or installing the final piece? Do they need proofing?
  4. Get to know the people who are involved in the potential project. Ask if you can present your proposal to the team involved in making the final decision.
  5. Make sure you can answer all the potential client’s questions and explain why you’re the best solution.
  6. Remember, your operation and theirs need to become a team, working to create a successful project. The client needs to know you’re “invested” in the success of this project specifically and their enterprise in general. So, learn something about what they do. Ask for a tour of their facilities. Check out their website… carefully. Learn everything you can.
  7. Be confident. Assume you will be working together. Not in an arrogant way, but as if they’ve already decided to work you.
  8. If they decide to use another supplier, don’t feel hurt, embarrassed, or betrayed. Chances are there were other factors involved that you were unaware of. It’s imperative you find out what led them to your competition. Make sure you speak with your contact and do a very friendly debriefing. Explain that you’re simply wanting to find out why your proposal wasn’t accepted and what the competition had that you didn’t. You aren’t trying to talk them into changing their minds; you’re trying to elicit very valuable information, so be as friendly as you possibly can. Explain that you really would like to work with them in the future. Then, take that information to heart and figure out how you can implement your own (but better!) version of it.
  9. Stay in touch with as many of the decision makers of the client’s company as you can. Call regularly to see if there’s anything you can assist them with. Don’t be a pest, but don’t be a stranger either. Email them articles they may find interesting. Ask if you can put them on your company’s newsletter list. Tell them about the latest, greatest innovations in your common interests. Let them know how you’re implementing the innovation so that it could benefit them in future projects. Remember Seth Godin’s wonderful advice “Share don’t Shill.” People won’t pay attention if your interactions are simply ads for your company. But if you give them something valuable, they will look forward to your every email. Next time, that big project is going to be yours.

Jim Dittmer is the owner of JDA Creative Color in Gresham, Oregon, and a member of the Big Picture Brain Squad.

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