Sometimes winning your dream client means that you have to wait someone out.
A few years back, we identified a dream client. They were custom built for us; we were the perfect group to do breath-taking, jaw-dropping, earth-shattering work for them. But, no matter how we tried, the decision-maker wouldn’t even give us an audience. To her credit, she knew enough about us to know that if we were allowed in that we would make a compelling case for change. So, she blocked us.
For seven years she blocked us. Seven.
We tried, unsuccessfully, going above our obstacle to the directors and executives of the company, knowing that they had business challenges that we could improve. We knew some of them, but couldn’t gain any ground. We tried finding our way in with stakeholders, a number of whom gave us an audience, but couldn’t move anything forward without this decision-maker—even though these stakeholders weren’t getting the results that they needed.
This decision-maker had enough power, and she sat at the crossroads of all stakeholders both above and beneath her on their organization chart.
And so we waited. But waiting doesn’t mean not taking action.
Undeterred, Ever Forward
Undeterred, we continued to call. We continued to nurture the relationships we were able to develop, and we continued to build our case for change. Over time, we built a consensus around our solution with a team of our dream client’s people, minus the obstacle.
At this point in the story, you’re probably thinking to yourself that all of this work over this long period of time finally forced her to relent. I would that that were true, but it would be incorrect. Our work did nothing to move her or her organization during the time she was there.
But then, one day, suddenly, she was gone.
Our obstacle of a decision-maker had left her position to take another position somewhere else. Upon learning this, we ratcheted up our efforts and within weeks we were approved and doing business with our dream client.
We had waited her out.
Was it all of our efforts in building the relationships and the consensus around a solution during that time that eventually made it easy to win the business? Yes. But that is only part of how we won the business.
The other part of how we won the business is equally important—maybe even more important. She expected us, like so many others in our space, to give up and find an easier target. She expected that at some point we would go away. She expected us to quit. She was wrong.
When do you give up pursuing your dream client?
Who has the power to make you quit?
How determined are you to win your dream client?
What actions should take now, knowing that it will take time—maybe more than you expect—to win your dream client?
Subscribe to my weekly podcast In the Arena.