The Art and Science of Landing Fortune 100 Companies as Clients

Fortune 100
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Fortune 100

Learning from Fortune 100 Organizations

I found an inspiring the other day by Demian Farnworth called “What a Cocky CEO Can Teach You About World-Class Blogging.”

It was a great read, and as a small business founder and owner, I appreciated the emphasis on keeping our companies “focused, lean, fast, and optimistic.”

Adopting these qualities typically keeps you and your company competitive, especially against Fortune 100 companies, which often struggle under the weight of their own bureaucracy and don’t have the ability to make quick and effective changes based on emerging market trends.

However, I’ve gained valuable insights throughout my experience working with large clients. In the past, I used to be frustrated with the lengthy processes needed for approvals from department heads and committees.

It is hard to believe even simple decisions had to be discussed, re-discussed, questioned, re-questioned, and approved after a minimum of 6 months. We had to pay that price to make our services available to our client’s workforce.

Over time, I learned patience, because a large client’s stability and reliable payment can bring predictability to small business cash flows. Nowadays, we spend far more energy and time chasing payments from smaller clients than we ever have to wait for Fortune 100 clients to agree to work with us and sign a contract finally.

So, for small businesses considering working with large clients, go for it. It might take years to secure a contract, but once it’s in place, it’s a comfortable position.

In one case, it took nearly five years of discussions before we began working with a current Fortune 100 client, but we’ve now been with them for over three years and just renewed our contract for three more.

Having a Fortune 100 contract can be reassuring during uncertain economic times.

So, how do you land Fortune 100 clients? Is there an art or tricks to it? Here are some helpful steps we’ve discovered over the years and still implement today:

  1. Research the Fortune 100 client thoroughly, including their history, management team, and recent news. Familiarize yourself with their stock price and performance, as it can be a conversation starter. Demonstrating knowledge about their company leaves a lasting impression.
  2. Don’t hesitate to follow up. Employees at Fortune 100 companies often have demanding schedules, a ridiculous number of meetings, etc., so persistence pays off. Considering the long-term prize, aim to follow up at least weekly during the courting period.
  3. Ensure your product aligns with their needs. Avoid fishing for potential interest and focus on providing solutions that truly fit their requirements. Be prepared to adjust your offering based on their immediate needs.
  4. Ask for referrals, even during negotiations. You never know when a contact might recommend your services to another company, leading to new opportunities.
  5. Make an effort to meet prospects in person. If you’re visiting their city for any reason, try to arrange a meeting. Face-to-face discussions can move things forward more quickly than remote communication.
  6. Invite them to golf if you’re struggling to connect. It might sound funny, but golf outings offer valuable networking opportunities and can help build relationships.
  7. Be authentic. Your products and services are valuable, and you can work with any size company. Stay confident and focus on the benefits you can provide.
  8. Retain big clients by providing exceptional customer service. Respond promptly to any concerns, exceeding their expectations for in-house service.
  9. During contract renegotiations, be prepared for pricing discussions. Offer various pricing options with different levels of products and services to address their needs while maintaining profitability.

Working with large clients can be challenging, demanding, and exciting.

Building friendships, solving problems, and growing your business through relationships with Fortune 100 companies can be enjoyable if approached with the appropriate mindset. So, land that big client – it’s worth the effort.