How your startup can land a big fish corporate client

By Alex Louey

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my experience building a small business into a global agency it’s that even the little fishes can land whales.

Being a smaller, boutique business should not detract from a larger clients’ decision to hire you if you’re great at what you do – it should make them want to enlist your services even more.

Big business clients will often turn to boutique, specialist services because they know they’re dedicated and will put in the effort to get the results.

This isn’t to say that landing a big fish is easy. You have to consistently prove your merit and fight for the opportunity to earn their interest.

Construct your pitch carefully and follow these steps for a chance to win that big piece of business.

Get on their radar

Before you can even think about devising that perfect pitch you have to get your foot in the door first.

Big companies don’t have time to consider every contender when it comes to partnering with another business. This means you need to establish yourself in the industry by building professional relationships and connecting with everybody you can.

When I co-founded Appscore, I always sought out opportunities to expand my network of connections, as I knew how valuable such relationships could prove down the track.

Do your homework

Once you’ve planted the foundations for your business relationships it’s essential to conduct thorough research on your potential client. This will ensure you have all of the necessary information in which to formulate your pitch.

Sure, all of your competitors have the ability to punch a brand’s name into Google, so what can you do to go that one step further?

Well odds are if they’re a bigger company then there’s a strong chance that you’ll have someone in your network who can tell you all about them. Speak to anybody you can who can give you an inside perspective and you’ll begin to gleam a much more comprehensive idea of how they operate.

Make sure to wow them

One thing I always stress to my team when working on a pitch is to make sure every word counts.

Much like a job interview if you don’t completely sell yourself in the first couple of minutes then why should any business consider hiring you? The same applies when attempting to land a big client. Don’t mince words or gasbag, cut straight to the heart of what makes you the best choice.

Wow them with your in-depth knowledge of their business and clearly explain what you can do for them. This ‘benefits over features’ approach will appeal to their pragmatic, results driven nature and demonstrate the tangible value you can offer.

An example of this is when Appscore landed Mercedes Benz as a client. We were still a small agency at the time and only had a handful of staff. When we met with them, we had to prove to them why we were the best. The rest of our competition had been trumpeting the age-old line of, ‘our designers are the best’, ‘our developers are the best’, but we decided to go in with a different approach.

We explained that we understood their company and were culturally the best fit. We picked the team to work on Mercedes based on their hobbies and interests – people who watched motor racing and loved cars and trucks. When the team were speaking to the client, they shared the same love and passion for the Mercedes product.

In the end, Mercedes loved the pitch and we got to work with one of the world’s greatest brands.

Establish trust

As the managing director of a multinational agency I have learnt the importance of building trust among my clients. When you say you can do incredible things, it is critical to follow through.

Big clients are often process driven, which means it’s paramount to assure them of your reliability and most of all, and your capabilities as a business. Show them your sound processes and financials so they understand exactly how you will work towards meeting their goals.

This doesn’t mean you need to have extensive experience and a wealth of resources at your disposal. It simply means you need to be able to prove you have the vision and the drive to realistically deliver results.

Prove your ability to mitigate risk

Every big business is conscious of their public image. This means they’ll want to know that you have processes in place to mitigate risk.

While it might feel detrimental to expect the worst, recognising potential setbacks demonstrates forward planning and accountability. Clients want to know that they’re in competent hands and if you can prove that you have considered every possibility then they’ll be much more likely to entrust you with their business.

Alex Louey is the co-founder and managing director of Appscore, an Australian based mobile-first digital agency with offices in eight countries.

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