A small software company was selling into a large international prospect that was covered by a team of 40 IBM sales reps. The small company’s CEO knew that they had better products and could turn this into a lucrative account if they could get to the right people and make an initial sale.
The company had a key account manager with the right talent and mindset, who could carry an executive conversation. The company did have better products and a powerful implementation process – but no name recognition – so it was going to take some hard work to get in, let alone land a deal. But they had good testimonials and some impressive accounts already. If they were willing to be patient and work smart, getting the business was very doable.
The first thing we did was a little homework to determine where IBM’s weaknesses were and how the company’s strengths mapped with those of the international prospect. Next, we identified the people and positions at the prospect where we thought we could have the most impact. The company took the list to their existing clients and asked if they knew anyone on the list or someone who knew people on the list. If the answer was yes, they asked to be introduced to that person – because introductions are twenty times more powerful than a cold call.
It took nine months, but the company was able to land a first, small deal with the prospect. Their implementation process included a weekly meeting, where all attendees completed an implementation report card. Any time that a particular target area fell below a certain mark, the teams pulled together to raise the mark within a week. This strategy caused all the stakeholders and the implementation team to work together instead of pointing fingers at each other. The project finished ahead of schedule and was the smoothest project in the international company’s history. It went so well that the value expectation was exceeded and the company was given another small deal.
After getting the same results three times in a row, the international firm’s CIO invited the small software company to participate in his annual planning meeting; he also asked it what deals it wanted to do that year. No other company has ever been invited to participate in this meeting. It took eighteen months to land and implement three small deals, but for the last five years, the international firm’s CIO has let the software company handpick their deals – which have generated multi-million-dollar revenues year after year.
The Common Mistake
Most companies focus on the client’s transaction, instead of focusing on getting the client value that meets or exceeds expectations. Not every company can do what this company did. But because they had a good product, a great strategy, a fantastic implementation process, and the right account manager, they were able to slay the goliath IBM!