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7 tips for dealing with a huge client

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When Paul Lindley was Deputy Managing Director at kids’s television brand Nickelodeon, he spotted a gap in the baby food market. He left his job, took £20,000 of his own capital and soon launched Ella’s Kitchen, a brand that stands for healthy and fun food for babies. Ella’s Kitchen was a fresh breeze in a market that has been dominated by big corporations for decades, standing out as a genuinely un-corporate, and impressively fast-growing, private company.

For the past three years in a row Ella’s Kitchen was ranked in the Top 25 fastest growing private companies in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100. As a private disruptor in a market dominated by giants, Paul will soon be sharing his experiences at the 2012 Entrepreneurs’ Summit on June 13, speaking about how mid-sized businesses get the most out of deals with big clients. In advance to the Summit he shared some tips with us. Here are seven things to remember when your business is facing a deal with a big client.

1. A bad deal is a bad deal

Never lose perspective and agree to an unsustainable deal because you were seduced by the glamour of doing business with a huge customer. A bad deal is a bad deal, so never move away from your thought-through walk away position. I’ve seen people do it, and it hurts later. Once in a business relationship with a big customer, the deal terms don’t get easier, they get harder.

2. The customer is king

Always think from the other side’s point of view. In dealing with big business this means both corporately and personally to the buyer themselves. What do they want? What won’t they be able to accept? Why will they see you as different to others? In this context, it’s not about you – it’s about them.

3. Listening comes first

God gave us one mouth and two ears. Use them in that proportion. Listen. Listen again. Then speak.

4. Build a relationship

Reputation and personal relationships count. Business between anybody is built on person-to-person understanding. Go the extra mile to forge this early, especially in being honest about potential problems.

5. Trust yourself

Remember that you know more about your business than they do – and therefore represent yourself. Don’t outsource this vital bit of your business, as you can bring what no one else can bring to the conversation.

6. Leave a good first impression

If pitching to a big business for the first time, think about how they are going to remember you at the end of the day. Next week when they go to their bosses, how will they pitch you? And what have you done to be different enough to make your proposition their top of mind a week later?

7. Stay confident

Have the utmost confidence, and if you feel bullied, remember it’s part of a game. Concentrate on your outcome, not their tactics.

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