Imagine the difficulty you would have trying to get Wal-Mart or some other giant retailer to take on your new, perhaps, untested product. The task seems nearly impossible, but new suppliers somehow find a way. The first step involves getting Goliath’s attention. The article in this series, 3.030301, “Getting to NO Before Getting to KNOW”, discusses the tendency that we all have to eliminate what we may think of as “junk” before we spend time understanding the product, service, or opportunity. As a matter of survival, Goliath’s often need to do the same thing by establishing a very high hurdle before they even begin to consider forming any type of relationship with a new potential partner. The task, therefore, is simple: Get their attention and make time to want to learn more about YOU and what you can offer THEM.
There are a few almost sure-fire approaches that can be taken to get a Goliath’s attention. Although the examples given above involved retail Goliaths, the approaches apply to all companies. They all have a common goal: to increase revenue. A simple statement such as, “We can help you increase your revenue by…” has an almost universal ring. However, that statement must be completed with some additional details that make the statement believable and, hopefully, intriguing. Below are some extensions to the “increase revenue” introductory phrase.
Increase unforecasted revenue: Presenting a Goliath with a revenue opportunity that is beyond their traditional customer base is always an attention-getter. It represents an increase in either the breadth (more customers) or depth (deeper customer relationships). These opportunities especially appeal to Goliath sales and marketing teams and business development/strategy teams.
Increased revenue within the reporting period: Being able to discuss increased short-term revenue opportunities not only appeals to the sales and marketing teams but also appeals to the financial elements within the Goliath. Those groups are responsible for reporting short-term results. For public companies always under the watchful eye of Wall Street, the reporting period is usually the current quarter. In most cases, a Goliath will have to make some level of investment associated with the increased revenue opportunity. That investment could be in training, documentation, order fulfillment, or many other areas associated with the new product or service. Virtually no company has people or funds sitting idly by waiting to be called upon in a moment’s notice to quickly take advantage of unplanned opportunities. Instead, supporting a new opportunity requires a shift in resources. Being able to predict a net positive revenue increase in the short-term helps to justify the required changes.
Increases short-term revenue with minimal disruption: As discussed above, any change will require some level of change or disruption, even if it only involves creating a new model number or invoicing for some new product or service. If a company can provide a Goliath with, essentially, “free revenue” any nay-sayers will quickly be ignored.
The attention-getters described above may seem to be of little value if the new revenue opportunity seems small compared to a Goliath’s normal run-rate. For example, many Davids think in terms of thousands while Goliath think in terms of millions for revenue. From this perspective, a new opportunity from a David may not move the “financial needle” of a Goliath. There are some factors that may help to justify this small, incremental revenue increase that can easily pave the way for the Goliath to consider the relationship as described below.
Provide an immediate competitive advantage: With only a few exceptions, every Goliath has competition. A new offering from a David, although minor, could swing the competitive balance in their favor. As a defensive move, a Goliath may want to proceed to work with you only to keep you from approaching one of their competitors.
Provide sales teams with something new to talk about: Except for one-time or commodity sales, sales reps build and nurture their relationships with their existing customers. A new offering from a David can give them something new to present to their customers to help further those relationships.
Increased investor interest: Again, although the David relationship might have an immediate minimal financial impact, it may be attractive to investors, especially Wall Street. The broadening of a company’s portfolio always seems to get the attention of investors who are focused on the long-term growth of a company.
Note that all of the above suggested attention-getters involve increases in revenue and not reduction in costs. Focusing on reduced costs is often an initial deal breaker. While a David may provide a lower cost in the long run, as pointed out above, it often requires significant unforecasted expenses to initially implement the David offering. For example, if a Goliath is concerned about quarterly performance, offering a one or two-year payback may simply be not acceptable. Of course, large companies need to focus on their long-term viability, but the reality is that short-term financial pressure can easily cloud long-term thinking.
The attention-getters described above are intended to be one-liners that make a positive first impression that will incent the Goliath to want to learn more. Keep in mind that companies do not form relationships: people do. Once you have their attention, avoid the natural tendency to talk about what YOU can do for them. Instead, focus on what both you can do together to help their business grow. The article in this series, 5.050202 “Partnerships Start with a Story”, describes the advantage of describing the potential relationship starting with the positive outcome first. The details of the path to the outcome can come later. With this approach, the “hook is set” and the impression is made before the details are discussed. Often, the tactical details can cloud the outcome resulting in the reasons not to proceed preventing the vision from ever being shared. Two articles that focus on working with potential investors are also applicable to business partners. After all, as pointed out in Principle Three, business partners are investors – by investing their time and resources in you, they are not investing them elsewhere. So, once you have their attention and have painted a compelling story, be ready to move forward. The two articles, 3.030204, “Don’t Have Your First Meeting” and 3.030405, “What If They Say Yes” emphasize the need to be ready for the next step. Perhaps the title of this article should have been “Get Their Attention and Hold It”. Without a clear and concise plan that you can share that describes how to move forward, your attention-getting activities will not matter.