Use a Sales Wedge to Close With a Big Customer

When large contracts are not landing, use the sales wedge strategy to connect with reluctant clients.
President, Proximo, LLC
April 02, 2012

Conducting a sales review helps you evaluate which strategies work to win new business. A technique called the sales wedge helps to connect with reluctant clients when large contracts are not landing.

I recently reviewed the sales process for my company's large transactions. We go after big contracts, which tend to have longer sales cycles. Some of the largest proposals were taking longer than usual to determine if they were succeeding. The longer it takes to reach a decision, the lower the chances are of a positive outcome.

The results of the review showed me a strategy that worked nearly 100 percent of the time to secure large customers. But because I wasn’t conscious of it, I was only using it about 40 percent of the time. I was losing projects that I could have easily won.

I mapped out the sales strategy that worked for me and created a template to apply to my sales transactions. The results have been promising.

What is the sales wedge?

The biggest obstacle to landing those large jobs wasn’t pricing. The client was reluctant to write a big check to a small company that they had never worked with. I offered to do a small project for them at a prorated smaller budget so they could see the quality of our work before deciding on the larger project.

This accomplished several things for both my company and the client.

  • The risk for the client is diminished because you're not asking for a great deal of money. Small projects typically don’t attract much attention in a corporate setting.

  • The client can point to a track record of successful working together when they request a larger budget for the original project.

  • My company is now on the approved-vendor list and my data is in the accounts-payable database. That status eases future contracts and payments.

  • I was able to experience firsthand the dynamics of the company and assess the right level of effort to engage them

  • Finally, it helps me to identify new opportunities for future projects or to expand the scope of the initial project.

When should you use the sales wedge?

Rhe sales wedge is a strategy to use when you aren’t making progress on your large project. If you have a reasonable expectation of closing that $1 million contract, don’t settle for a $25,000 wedge.

But if the process stalls, then lock in the sales wedge. Don't take the risk of waiting to try again next quarter.

How do you go from the wedge to the big contract?

The beauty of the sales wedge is that if you do a great job on the small project, it’s usually the client who comes back to you, asking you to work on the initial project or larger projects.

While you're working on the small project, try to determine if your contact really has the budget authority to approve something bigger. If not, use the project to connect with the right people internally. Become visible to the executives who can approve the big money.

If a customer is closing the door with a big no, then prop it open with a sales wedge and walk in. They’ll thank you for it later.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

President, Proximo, LLC