Why Big Companies Don’t Do Business with You: 7 Steps for Fixing That

This article was contributed by Barbara Weaver Smith, The Whale Hunters

The Whale Hunters like to talk about the “aperture of perception” – that lens through which you focus your prospects’ attention and govern what they see and experience.

Everything that touches the whale (big company prospects) contributes to the buyers’ overall perception of you-for example:

* Telephone answering
* Website
* Location
* Communications
* Print materials and proposals
* D&B profile
* Testimonials

Whales are afraid of smaller companies; they feel safer with other big companies, like themselves. Yet they want the advantages that a small company can offer-undivided attention, innovation, agility, speed of decision-making. Trouble is, they won’t buy advantage when they’re fearful. So the key is to allay their fears by controlling the aperture of perception. Show them many signs that look like, sound like, and feel like “large.”

Here are seven steps to looking larger:

1. Brand

Brand your product or service, not your key person or people. The founding entrepreneur often starts our selling, delivering, and managing-especially in a professional services company. The sooner you can shift the customer’s focus from an individual to a service brand, the faster you will be able to grow and the larger you will appear.

2. Team

Even whales may have bios of their leadership team on the website. But these are professional and objective. On your website and in your literature, eliminate any references to hobbies, pets, and other folksy traits; use uniform head-shot or business casual photos

3. Location

If you are based in a small city or town and want to do business with big-city whales in other states, establish a big city presence in one or more of your target areas. This can be as simple as a virtual location through an executive center or other shared office space arrangement. A professional receptionist, find-me phone service, and local address will send the message.

4. Website

Make your website all about the buyers, not you about you. Who are you trying to attract and what will they be looking for? Some good whale websites are organized according to the size of the customer who is visiting – i.e. consumer services, small business services, enterprise services. Consider how your this kind of distinction could help your website achieve the right tone for both whales and non-whale customers.

5. Niche

Be careful how you present your niche in digital and print materials. WBE/MBE designations are a good example. They position you as a subcontractor and/or a company competing for set-aside projects. If that is the position you intend to occupy, then go for it. But if you also want to be a prime contractor and compete on an equal footing with bigger companies, you will find it extremely difficult to change a whale’s mindset about that pigeonhole in which they’ve placed you. In fact, it could be a reason to have completely separate divisions or companies, one marketed as a WBE/MBE and the other not.

6. Media/News Page

Write a press release each time you sign a new customer, receive an award, achieve a revenue milestone, appoint a new employee or give a raise. Post the releases on your website and maintain a news page with links to each. These press releases have little news value except to you, but they send a message that you are a company that sees itself as newsworthy. On your media page, offer contact information for how media people should reach your PR team-even if that is through your primary phone number and a PR@yourcompany.com email address.

7. Product/Service White Papers

Invest in preparing white papers to supplement your marketing copy. A white paper is a report that makes a business case or explains technical details. It places your products/services in a broader business and technical context. Promote these as free downloads on your website and include them as appropriate during a sale. The white paper is not primarily about your product or service but about what it helps the buyer to accomplish and /or how it works. Consider including industry white papers, written by others, on your website to help educate your prospects.

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