Chasing The Big Account With a Plan

Posted on November 10, 2009 by - Also by this author

FOLLOW UP: Recently I reported my efforts to land a big hotel account and the trial and tribulations of just getting in the door. Sometimes the pursuit of an account can consume you when you decide you really want it. 
I think selling is much like planning a strategic attack in war. When you think about war or a sports game or even driving for that matter, you can be defensive or offensive. You can lure the target and lead the target to you and capture them on your own territory or you can pursue them and show up at their door often. I use both methods depending on the account.
One thing is certain; you must have a plan and mission and cannot go in willy-nilly hoping for the best. To succeed you must have a convincing presentation. To make the presentation, you must get face time with a decision maker. To get face time, you must have a contact. To have a contact name, you must do your homework to find out who on the inside will make the decision. Then you must get to that person.
About 10 years ago, a large corporation began building a new regional corporate office in my city. I knew it was a company that would surely use a lot of chauffeured transportation. I declared them a target the day they broke ground. I had no idea how I would get in the door since there literally was no door to walk it. Then came a newspaper article about the progress of the building. The photo caption had the name of the marketing director and the new CEO shown in the photo. It stated both would be moving from Hartford when the building opened. Whoomp, there it is! I had contacts for my target.
I called the Hartford office. I got the marketing director on the phone and spoke with him for about an hour. I told him the next time he was in town I would like to take him out in a limousine and show him around our town and take him to the hottest social scenes. Ah, the benefits of having a limousine as a tool. That’s a pretty heavy weapon in the arsenal as who doesn’t love to ride in a limousine?
About a month later, I attended a dinner where these two men would be the guests of honor. Each person in attendance was introduced and my contact and I saw each other face-to-face for the first time as the emcee introduced the room. We both nodded our head from across the room acknowledging each other. After the dinner, we were off to tour the town and seal the deal. I made him my new friend (best friends as far as he was concerned). 
As the building opened, he told me about all the limo companies that came calling upon him trying to get his business. He told each one that he already had a contract with our company before the doors ever opened. He said all of them seemed perplexed at how this could have happened. All I can say is, if you snooze you lose. You have to be one step ahead of the competition in this war.
What made me think if this account landing 10 years ago? Because I have spent eight months pursing a target account and decided today I am throwing in the towel. I can’t land every single one I chase after and I realize that I need to search for a new target and stop wasting my time on this one. Sooner or later, the guy that is doing it so much cheaper than I can will make a mistake. After all I have done to educate the client on what constitutes world-class service, the client will realize that the lowest price isn’t always the best service and hopefully will call me.
— Jim Luff, LCT Contributing Editor
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