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5 tips for landing large contracts

Read time: 4 minutes


Hunting for big contracts? The payoffs can be substantial—but so can the amount of work you’ll need to put in to win one. The key to success: be prepared.

“Larger contracts often mean bigger buying groups, which means more people for you to convince,” says Claudia Mason, Business Consultant with BDC. “At the same time, businesses are more risk-averse than ever. You really have to show them you know your stuff.”

Mason offers these five tips to prepare your business and land a major deal.

1. Simplify your sales process

With a bigger buying group to bond with, the last thing your salespeople need is a lot of administrative tasks to deal with back at the office.

Look for opportunities to outsource, delegate, and streamline your processes to lighten your sales team’s load so they can focus on closing the deal. For instance, you might look at simplifying the reports they have to produce for weekly sales meetings, outsource lead generation or streamline your approval processes.

Building in repeatability is also very useful. Develop templates for presentations, quotes and proposals, or produce email scripts for common scenarios so you won’t have to reinvent the wheel every time a new customer comes along.

2. Simplify the buyer’s decision-making process

Make it as easy as possible for your customer to decide to buy from you. “From the first pitch to the fifteenth, you want to ensure there are events and communications in place that make it easy for the customer to ‘date’ and eventually marry you,” Mason says.

She suggests setting up semi-automated processes that kick in after a pitch, such as forwarding case studies tailored to members of the buying group (e.g., accounting advice for the accountant, return-on-investment information for the CEO).

3. Pitch solutions

Remember that your customers aren’t looking to buy something; they are looking for a solution to their problems. Your job is to convince them you have the right solution. That means you need to show them how your product or service will help them overcome challenges they’re facing.

“Act as an advisor for their business rather than rattling off a bunch of features and benefits that might not be relevant,” Mason says. Playing this adviser role means not just zeroing in on the challenges the customer has explicitly laid out, but also figuring out what’s plaguing other businesses in their industry. Chances are, they’re facing the same issues, and you might be able to impress by helping them find answers to questions they weren’t even aware of.

4. Speak to everyone in the room

With bigger buying groups, it’s not just the CEO you need to convince. Frame your product or service in a way that speaks to everyone in the room. That requires looking at it from different perspectives to get an idea of what each person might be looking for from a product or service.

Mason calls the pitch session “a family meeting.” “You need to figure out what Mom needs, what Dad needs and what the kids need before taking the trip to Disneyland.”

5. Use multi-threading to network with multiple decision makers

Imagine you’ve poured a ton of time, resources and energy into building rapport with a particular decision maker. Just as the sale is within your grasp, your contact is transferred to another post—and you’re back to square one.

Protect yourself by “multi-threading”—pinpointing influencers in an organization and using social media platforms like LinkedIn and in-person networking to connect with them. This will make sure your deal doesn’t depend on one person being in a certain position. If your sales team isn’t familiar with multi-threading, consider training them so you can use it to its full effect.

Pulling off large contracts

Once you’ve secured a big contract, you need to deliver on it. Communication and structure are key, says Mason. “Your customer has made a big buying decision and you’ve made a big selling decision. It’s a marriage now.”

She suggests approaching the large contract as if you’re fulfilling several little ones by implementing communication touch points and key performance indicators throughout the fulfilment process, and for both sides.

Mason also advises striving to go above and beyond to solidify the partnership. “Never stop trying to close them. Be on the lookout for opportunities to improve what you’re doing, whether it’s efficiency, new flavours or an add-on to what they already have—do whatever you can to keep them hooked.”