Hunting For Whales

Having the ability to go after large companies doesn't mean you should.

"Google doesn't work with small consultancies, don't waste your time." This is simply not true, and tells more about the speaker's confidence in his offering than how the consulting market works.

The biggest strengths of boutique consulting firms are their specialized expertise, flexibility, and speed of delivery. It turns out that these are exactly the capabilities that industry giants need the most.

Of course, it doesn't make sense for every consultant to work with large companies. Maybe you don't have the capabilities, or just enjoy working with SMBs and midsize accounts. Or you have chosen to position yourself in a different vertical, where most of your contacts and work experience lie.

But if you go for it, landing a large client can completely change your business.

Winning those accounts could help you:

  • Raise your rates and work satisfaction;
  • Build credibility and a strong client portfolio;
  • Develop long-term relationships with people and brands aligned with your values.

But every coin has two sides. The main challenge when approaching large accounts is a more complex sales process.

When selling for large companies, you will never see a single person with full responsibility to hire you. Often you will need to build consensus and have more people - in different departments - commit to working with you to win their business.

This, of course, causes two side effects:

  1. A longer sales cycle: I've personally seen large projects take more than 6 months to close. This will cause stress in your pipeline, so it's crucial to have a different offering to promote to smaller accounts, and/or a cash runway.
  2. A higher CAC: If you need to perform more sales activities and each project takes longer to close, your client acquisition cost will be higher. This might sound obvious but is often overlooked by consultants when developing and pricing their offerings.

Every time a client asks me for advice when first considering pursuing large clients, I ask them to validate their assumptions, understand the process, and look for competent people to support them.

Validate Your Assumptions

The idea behind this strategy is simple: increase your focus. Make the best out of your resources by concentrating on bigger clients, instead of dividing your attention between smaller accounts.

But this only makes sense if the larger companies are indeed more valuable to your consultancy.

Ask yourself:

  • "Are those large companies my dream clients?"
  • "Are they really more profitable than serving smaller accounts?"
  • "Am I trying to add this logo to my portfolio to fill my ego, or because it will bring more logos with it?"

Understand The Process

If you try to promote your offerings using the same approach as with smaller accounts, you can't expect any conversation to translate into actual revenue.

Selling to whales will require you to focus more on building the right relationships and reputation within your dream accounts. Creating a plan of action to nurture them. And adapting your initiatives to their agenda, needs, and circumstances.

I'll soon publish the methodology I use with clients who sell to large companies here - subscribe to the club to receive access to this and other long-form posts and resources.

Look For Expert Support

Search for help from someone who had actually run account-based campaigns and generated opportunities within large companies.

You don't need to do everything yourself. Having the advice and support of a trusted professional will not only save you time and money, but get the first wins you need to avoid flinching and create momentum and encouragement.

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