Every salesperson dreams of landing the big whale of a deal. You know the one—the deal that makes your year and cements your reputation as a rainmaker. Once you get a big deal like that, that’s all you’ll ever want to go after. But we all know that dreaming doesn’t get us any closer to a signature on a contract and a commission check in the bank. Sure there’s an occasional “bluebird” that lands in someone’s lap. But sales careers aren’t made by hoping we’ll get lucky. Instead, it takes a well-thought-out strategy, disciplined execution, and hours of hard work to land a big deal.
There have been whole libraries of books written about to how sell to the C-suite and how to close a deal with lots of zeroes on the end. But most experts provide little insight about how to initiate a large deal. How does one get engaged in the whale’s buying process to begin with? I’m sure there are many strategies that can be deployed, but one that is often overlooked is inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is a methodology used to attract the attention of prospects by publishing content of unique interest and help to them. Such content is not just for the minnows, the guppies, and the occasional dolphin. It’s ideally suited to initiating and closing large deals. One of the primary outcomes of inbound marketing is that it positions you and your business as a thought leader and subject matter expert. Isn’t that what every executive is looking for, regardless of size? They buy answers to their problems, not services and guarantees. They buy solutions that drive their business forward, not products with bells and whistles.
Below are 17 basic steps that will help you get involved in the buying process and close your next whale of a deal:
- Identify a vertical market that you want to penetrate. If at all possible, select one where you have knowledge of the industry and a success story or two that you can leverage.
- Define your Target Persona. Who typically makes the decisions for your product or solution? Who is their boss? What’s important to both of them? What problems do they have? What keeps them up at night? What motivates them?
- Research industry blogs and news articles to determine the hot topics right now. What are the trends, the obstacles, and the issues facing the industry?
- Research a few of the top companies. Read their press releases. Find out what the Wall Street analysts are saying about them. Read their annual reports and listen to the earnings calls they have with analysts every quarter.
- Now create content that speaks to the issues you’ve uncovered. And one is not enough. Create multiple premium pieces—white papers, eBooks, webinars, podcasts, etc.
- Develop case studies that demonstrate how you have solved the problems this industry and these target prospects are dealing with.
- Blog. Blog. Blog. Blog consistently and frequently. Post articles that are related to your premium content. Don’t be boring. Have an opinion. Boldly state your point-of-view. Tell them something they don’t already know.
- Leverage multiple authors within your organization to demonstrate the depth of knowledge. Marketing, Sales, Operations, and the CEO. Everyone is an expert in something and everyone brings a unique perspective—share it.
- Leverage social media, email marketing, advertising, and SEO/Keywords to promote your content.
- Encourage every employee to share content regularly with their social media networks. Once people start liking, sharing, and retweeting, your audience will grow exponentially.
- Make sure every blog post has at least one call-to-action that’s relevant to the content of the post. You’ve drawn people to your post. They’ve read it. Now, what if they want to learn more? Provide them a path.
- Any call-to-action should direct the prospect to a landing page with customized messaging and a form that allows them to download additional content.
- Pay attention to who is downloading, sharing, liking, and retweeting your content. These are your leads, or people who can introduce you to your lead. Follow up with everyone. They all matter. You don’t know which one could be the lynch pin to the big deal, the way to the whale.
- Monitor the digital behavior of those that interact with your content. How often do they come back to your site or your blog? What pages or posts are they reading? What are they downloading? This is great business intelligence that will be immensely useful when you eventually speak with them. That first conversation will be easy, smooth, and productive because you’ll have at least a general understanding of where their interest lies.
- Don’t be afraid to combine your inbound content with outbound tactics to grab the attention of a key executive. Leverage the intel that you’ve captured from your research, your experience with similar companies, and your interactions with others in the organization to craft a compelling email and voicemail message.
- Don’t give up. One or two emails and voicemails is rarely enough. Be professional and polite, but be persistent.
- Once you’re engaged in the buying process, continue to leverage your inbound content. Send them your most recent article or white paper. Keep educating them. Keep impressing them. Keep building momentum.
Finally, stay disciplined. Stay focused. Don’t give up. Keep working your plan. It will pay off. You will get the whale to bite and you will close the next big deal. Congratulations!