Dont be Seduced! Stand Tall When Selling a Marquee Prospect

By Andrew J. Birol, President, Birol Growth Consulting, Inc.

You may already know the feeling. One day your business gets a call from a prospect and your first reaction is to think it is some kind of a joke. You hear them say they are interested in doing business with you and want to meet ASAP. Your heart starts to beat fast, your hands get clammy and you say to yourself, "This is it, now my business is really on its way." What is happening? A celebrity client you have always dreamed of landing, a huge buyer of your services, or that one big account which will transform your firm overnight, has called you. What do you do? Reflexively, you immediately offer this account anything and everything they could want knowing you will not let yourself lose this chance of a lifetime. Is this right? Will this work? I say no and here is why.

I hope that when your marquee prospect calls you, it is because your growing reputation for value and quality has caught their attention. Assuming this goes forward, sell your services and products just as you would to any client. Nevertheless, take the following steps:

  • Never arbitrarily compromise your price to close the deal. If anybody can pay full fare for your services, it is a large or very successful client. They have the money as well as the experience investing it wisely. Price your offer to cover all your costs and gain equal concessions in return for yours. Serving a famous, larger client often requires you to provide extra service, more of your time, and more support after the sale. Their decision-making time alone can cost your business a fortune.

  • Define exactly what this account is worth to you in free publicity and as a reference. What other business will you close by calling this client yours? What other advertising or marketing expense can you really cut now that you have this account? If you do cut your price in return for the "buzz" of landing this client, ensure you receive what you expect. Marquee clients are invaluable if, in fact, they will be a reference, and be a referral for you and your service. However, do not automatically assume they can or will be. Build into your agreement their commitment to be a case study, endorse your service and recommend your company if the service you provide meets clear standards.

  • Large companies and famous brands are most risk averse when purchasing anything that could affect their reputation. Ensure you understand their culture and how they manage their corporate image and protect their brand. When delivering your services know your buyers. Should they have the slightest problem with your performance, chances are high they will cut your deal rather than jeopardize their image or their brand.

  • Understand when your marquee client is buying from you to learn how you do it. Large companies are not set up to do things in new ways or on a small scale. Often it is better to learn by paying a smaller business to show them how to make it themselves. If you agree to be your client’s test kitchen, price your product to make a full profit on your first order, or decline the business if you are giving away secrets you shouldn’t. Either way do not bet on a lasting relationship if they are not.

In conclusion, there is an old saying, "Famous people are just like you and me, and they put their pants on one leg at a time". As you go forward and do business with a marquee or large client, make sure that you remember this, continue wearing your own pants correctly and do not get caught with them down. Your client will surely not make such a mistake. Doing this will not only assure that your sales grow, but that they do so in a profitable and respectable manner. Famous clients are just like you and me -- they had to get there by doing the right things for the right people while being paid for it.

Articles by Birol Growth Consulting are © copyrighted and all rights are reserved. However, articles may be reprinted with prior written consent if attribution is included as follows:

© Copyrighted by Andrew J. Birol, President of Birol Growth Consulting, who helps owners grow their businesses by growing their Best and Highest Use ®. Andy can be reached at (412) 973-2080 , by email at, or on the web at

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