Land Your Whale!

During speaking engagements I share the story that our first contract was with a Fortune 500 company. Here we were, a two-man team, with only the shell of a product, negotiating a contract with a company that could absolutely crush us. I am always asked how we were able to convince a company of that size to take a risk on a small shop. My answer:

  1. We were realistic and set expectations early. It is OK to say you don’t know or that your product cannot deliver on a specific ask. The worst thing you can do is over promise and under deliver.
  2. We were transparent. From the very first meeting, we openly expressed to them that we were a small team with limited capacity. All we were looking for was an opportunity to prove our value. Yes, let them know your capabilities. Better yet, let them witness your passion and willingness to work hard. Best of all, let them know your vulnerabilities and limitations. Fortune 500 companies have so many vendors walk through their doors that they can immediately sniff out BS. Trying to be something that we weren’t would have killed any rapport and credibility we were attempting to build.
  3. We gave them ownership. Clients want to feel needed and heard. The best way to ensure both is to get feedback during development of your product/service and continuously ask for ways to improve it. It is your job to make them look good!

A client of this size can be your best friend or worst enemy. For us it was a great relationship. Because we were realistic, transparent, and gave ownership, they allowed us make several mistakes without any blowback. They became our best friend. We have been able to leverage their support and name recognition into multiple other Fortune 500 deals.

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