Spotlight shares strategies for pursuing Fortune 500 customers.
Landing a Fortune 500 client can be a huge win for a small business, and not simply because it means more money coming in the door. You can use it to show other big clients that you’ve got the capacity to meet their needs, too.
Just ask Spotlight Analyst Relations. It recently added one of the world’s largest corporations to its client roster.
The River Market-based agency is going to be working with GE Digital, helping it build better relationships with industry analysts around the globe. (It’s an important job: Industry analysts can influence the buying decisions of major customers, especially in the world of enterprise software, where Spotlight operates.)
So how did they do it? Rick Nash, Spotlight managing partner, talked about how his firm landed one of its biggest clients.
Find an Advocate
Spotlight represents Silicon Valley startups and large companies like Accenture and VMware. Nash and his co-founder, Andrew Hsu, have made a point of going after big customers since Spotlight’s earliest days.
“When we started Spotlight, we identified a short list of companies we wanted to work with and add to our client portfolio, companies we knew we could create outcome for,” Nash said.
One of those companies was eBay. The Spotlight founders spent two years courting a contact there to see if the e-commerce site would hire their firm. (The initial connection was a cold call.)
Nothing happened … until that person moved to GE Digital.
“The first thing she did was call and reach out to see if we could help them,” Nash said.
Not only did Spotlight’s advocate point out the opportunity at GE Digital, she also shared valuable information about GE Digital’s process for choosing vendors. That’s no small thing when you’re pursuing a global company.
“They’re a complex, matrixed organization,” Nash said. “So without being on the inside, it’s hard to understand, both the buying process and the decision-making process. Who’s in charge of what?”
Find Even More Advocates
While it’s good to have one advocate, it’s even better to win over multiple people inside your prospect’s organization.
The GE Digital contact made the initial call to Spotlight, but it was still important to sell to other decision-makers there.
“In any large organization like a GE,” Nash said, “there’s always more than one buyer.”
Again, their initial advocate helped them out. She made introductions to the right people in multiple departments.
There’s a real benefit to this strategy. If any contacts leave the organization or move to a different unit, you still have other avenues.
Focus on Educating, Not Closing
Over the next several months, Spotlight regularly engaged key people at GE Digital.
Spotlight wasn’t angling to close the deal as fast as possible. Rather, the company shared information about itself and addressed any concerns that GE Digital might have about hiring a smaller firm.
Spotlight highlighted its projects with other international clients, and it talked up its investments in enterprise software, analytics and systems—proof that it could handle a GE Digital-size workload.
“We laugh about it. We call it systematic patience,” Nash said. “We know that in a large organization it’s going to take a long time to make any decision, whether it’s a big one or little one.”
You might be wondering what systematic patience looks like in practice.
Here’s an example: After an introduction from their advocate, Nash or someone else at Spotlight might schedule a call with a key person at GE Digital.
A day or two later, Spotlight would send a thank-you note.
Two or three weeks after that, Spotlight would send a warm email, offering a high- level overview of Spotlight’s services and strengths, in case the recipient wanted to share that with his or her colleagues.
Then, two or three weeks after that, the GE Digital contact would be pinged via LinkedIn. These touchpoints all built up a kind of “muscle memory” that helped GE Digital remember Spotlight.
Worried about pestering your potential client? Check with your advocate. That person can help you gauge if you’re over- doing things.
It took about a year for GE Digital to officially hire Spotlight.
“We had probably three different start dates, where, yep, we’re doing it, paperwork’s with legal, we’re going to start in three weeks,” Nash said. “And then a week later, there was a reorg. Everything got started over.”
But they were prepared for that. And they knew that if they persevered, good things could happen.
Spotlight is adding staff right now, including a new office in Chicago, but that’s not necessarily due to GE Digital. Rather, the firm has experienced growth because it’s tapping into a larger need in the market.
Still, having GE on the client roster doesn’t hurt.
“Where it does help us is for the next big company,” Nash said. “The fact that Spotlight is managing GE globally, it just sounds impressive to the next Fortune 500 client.”