Earth is a water planet. 71% of Earth’s surface is water with 96.5% of all our water contained in the oceans. There, in the hostile open sea, lives the leviathan of our planet, the great blue whale. Averaging over 110 ft. in length, weighing 209 tons and living 80-90 years, they are the largest known animal to ever exist. That kind of size is hard to imagine. Heck, their hearts are the size of an automobile! They have scale.
In sales, scalability is a critical factor. In 1869 Vilfredo Pareto’s ideas became Pareto’s Law or the Law of the Vital Few, a true POWER LAW. You probably know it as the 80/20 rule. Simply stated 80% of the effects are created by only 20% of the causes. In sales, 80% of your sales are generated by 20% of your clients. For this example, your 20% is the same scale as the Great Blue Whale. They are big and dominant in your world and deserve to be treated differently.
This is not an exercise in client equality; it’s a proven strategy of success.
The Whale Treatment
I love my whale treatment when I get it.
Travel is a big part of our job so the airline of my choice gives me preferred seating and first-class upgrades. I go to the movies every week and the theater of my choice knows this. They give me discounts on popcorn and Dr. Pepper and let me buy tickets to blockbuster movies way in advance. This place even knows my favorite seat locations. I stay at a LOT of hotels and they all know me. “Here is your free bottle of water and would you like an upgrade.”
Loyalty and rewards for being a good customer is nothing new. It impacts our choices and is a core strategy for elite sales professionals.
I first heard the term “whales” associated with elite clients when I had the honor of being part of a team designing a marketing plan to lure these big targets to one of the Class A hotels on the Las Vegas strip. We worked for a week on an elaborate idea, specialty customized packages created to bring high rollers to this specific property. This was about creating the “royal treatment” and why not, this elite group of gamblers would think nothing about risking $100,000 on a roll of the dice. It wasn’t about comping them elaborate suites or free meals, every casino or hotel did that. This was about making them feel special, like they hung the moon, and was a great project!
Every sales professional has their own whales and to treat them extra special is to help assure they stay buying their products and services from you. The key is what is special?”
Here are a few ideas from the pinnacle sales professionals that were interviewed for the book.
SET THE STANDARD
“I treat clients with a standard of service and attention that marks a relationship as special. I know how hard it is to establish a client relationship, a relationship where it’s not about one transaction but about a series of opportunities where I can meet my client’s needs”. That’s what Angela, a top-flight commercial leasing agent told me. She then said, “BUT I treat my repeat clients, people who are special to my book of business differently. They deserve it. They come back as their needs grow. It is the highest honor I can have and I want them to know it!”
With Angela, it’s about a high bar at the beginning, but as you grow as a client so does the way you are treated. She creates custom newsletters every quarter where the clients business and industry take center stage. She personalizes everything for them, even using their pictures (a very personal touch) in the mast title. That’s a nice ROYAL touch.
EVERY WHALE STARTS AS A CALF
It’s hard to imagine that a baby blue whale emerges into the world after a year’s gestation at 25 ft. long and weighing about 3 tons. Heck, they gain 200 lbs. a day for their first year! Every royal customer started as a first-time buyer. You seldom stumble on your first whale. This is an important point and it supports Angela’s idea about setting a strong standard of service but it also falls into Marco’s “build a whale strategy”. Marco is an art dealer. He was an outlier in my study as I stumbled upon him.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t in the 7 major industries I studied and didn’t make the book. He sells a lot of very expensive art, a field I know little or nothing about except I love Van Gogh. I loved his strategy which was to build a clientele of whales. His strategy: first, know EVERYTHING about your current whales. It doesn’t matter if you are selling peanut butter he told me, just know the model. When you know the model you can duplicate the model. You can clone your next whale. He knows the characteristics and looks for them, INTENTIONALLY. When we teach this particular secret we call it THE IDEAL CLIENT PROFILE. Ideal clients become whales and a filter/profile will tell you the chances of that happening. So, spend some time learning the DNA of your top clients and simply go looking for those other potential clients that match that DNA.
I heard one of my interviewees tell me; “Know where your bread is buttered”. That’s good whale advice.