Sales and the Art of Whale Hunting: Part II

Author: 
Mark Godley, CRO HG Data

Editor’s Note: With the focus in today’s B2B environment on transactional and volume selling, the whale hunt is becoming a thing of the past. And yet, there are some lessons to be learned from the specialized sales practitioner who bags whales on a regular basis. HG Data’s Chief Revenue Officer tells the stories of several whale hunters he has known and lessons to learn from them. This is the second part of a three-part series, which will post on consecutive days. Part 1 can be found here.

Whale Hunter #2: The Trusted Advisor
I’m pretty sure Cesar Enciso was one of the first in his family to graduate college and I’m also pretty sure he didn’t graduate with honors – all of that doesn’t matter because he’s the biggest whale hunter I know. I saw Cesar land deals 10 – 20x the average – and that was when he was just learning how to wield a harpoon. The secret to Cesar’s success? He applies the highest emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) I’ve ever seen in a business person. Cesar has the uncanny ability to read a customer, often understanding them more than they understand themselves. Cesar uses his EQ not to simply help a C-level executive solve a business problem, but also see how that person can personally benefit from the project. I have watched Cesar close some incredible deals while also advancing countless peoples’ careers by leveraging his high EQ.

Cesar’s ability to slay whales and help people climb the corporate ladder has had an interesting consequence – he wins customers for life. He’s that good. Cesar has such a strong relationship with his customers they end up taking him with them from job to job. And, equally impressive, as Cesar has gone from company to company, those buyers have moved their vendor relationships to follow him. Cesar has created the ultimate symbiotic relationship. I’m still not sure who’s the whale and who’s the barnacle – but the roles in the metaphor don’t matter. What I do know is that Cesar and his clients have mutually benefited from the long-term relationships they’ve fostered.

Whale Hunter #3: The Consensus Builder
Heather Welborn
 is a strikingly gorgeous woman. But instead of walking the runways of Paris, she went into sales. I have to say that Heather is not one of the best business women I’ve ever worked with; she’s one of the best business people I know.

I met Heather in the late 1990s working for a conference calling company, InterCall, which was in the middle of transitioning its products to the Internet and digital age. While InterCall had hundreds of reps busy pursuing the transactional model and scooping up minnows in the SMB market, Heather saw an ocean of whales. You can imagine my befuddlement when my team of over 60 people was consistently outsold by her three reps slaying whale after whale.

Heather was so successful at harpooning a bunch of finbacks that she convinced our CEO to let her create a national account division and teach others how to do what she does better than anyone else: work the dozens of stakeholders in the food chain—across divisions, across countries and across budgets. She’s second to none at herding cats and getting people, even adversaries within the same company, to find common ground on a project.  A long time ago, I affectionately nicknamed Heather “Squirrel” because of her habit of going around collecting people like acorns, using information and relationships as power. She finds the acorns scattered across corporate forests that others ignore because seemingly they aren’t important individually. But by the time Heather collects enough acorns, she has a feast. 

Heather’s ability to rally disparate business units and functions behind a joint solution is what wins her business and puts her in the whale hunter category. She’s a consensus builder who orchestrates people to work together for the common goal—the project and the sale.

Part III on Wednesday: Whale Hunter #4 - They Buyer's Friend

Mark Godley is chief revenue officer of HG Data, a global leader on competitive intelligence of installed technologies.