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Abe Lincoln’s Big Fish


My beautiful wife Michele love to watch movies from the comfort of our own living room, while relaxing on our comfortable sofa with our lovable cocker spaniel Emanuel in front of our crackling fireplace.

We also make it a point to head out to a real, live theater once every few months or so. There’s nothing like a huge screen, great sound and that overwhelming smell of fresh-popped popcorn…

A couple of weeks ago, we ventured out to our local megaplex on a snowy Sunday afternoon. With the recent Oscars fresh on our mind, we decided to see the movie “Lincoln.”

There wasn’t much suspense, of course, since everyone knows that the 13th Amendment passes and our hero gets assassinated in the end. But all the political gamesmanship along the way made for some decent drama, as well as an important business lesson — one that fits right in with our discussion here…

Last week, I started my current series on catching big clients, or “Big Fish,” that will sustain your business over the long run. Today we’re going to take that a step further by talking about how to understand and think like a Big Fish company and how that can help you plan your approach and find success.

Getting Congress to pass the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery was the Big Fish in Abe Lincoln’s political career – the one accomplishment he is most remembered and celebrated for. He was well aware of the historical significance of that one piece of legislation, and he developed a complete strategy and a Do-Whatever-It-Takes attitude to make it happen.

He put together a team of political movers and shakers – inside Congress and out – and led the way by his own example, meeting with key players in his office and even showing up at night on the doorstep of key opponents of the Amendment to plead his case.

(No – he didn’t just send them an email.)

Before YOU can start YOUR process of landing big clients, you have to make sure your entire team is onboard with your approach and vision. There are six keys to finding big client success. They are:

  1. First Impression: You must always keep in mind that you have one shot to land a big client. If you make a mistake, they aren’t going to consider you again. Never give them a reason to doubt your abilities.
  2. First Priority: Your Big Fish must always feel like they are your first priority. Return their calls and emails immediately (or assign someone to do it), and find solutions to their problems or questions as quickly as possible.
  3. Flexible: You need to be flexible in your negotiations. If a Big Fish needs a special service or customized product, make it happen – for the benefit of the long-term relationship. A little hassle now could result in a big payoff later.
  4. Long-term: Building on that last point: As you approach and negotiate with Big Fish, you need to think about the long-term benefits for your business. If you go for a one-time big score, you will lose the interest of the Big Fish.
  5. Have Fun: Work should be fun – including the process of landing big clients. In fact, this should be the most fun part of your business, because you’re sharing your vision with new people and including them in your future success, and likewise. People simply work better in a fun, happy environment. Your passion will also be contagious and pull the Big Fish into your vision even more.
  6. Help Them: When you take just a little bit of your time to offer your clients ways to save money or time by introducing them to potential business partners, this will show you really are invested and interested in their business. Strive to find balance between the needs of your own business and those of your clients.

Here are a few things you can do to develop your team’s big-company vision:

  • Post these six keys for everyone to see.
  • Start a performance-based incentive program.
  • Hold frequent team meetings to discuss and review Big Fish strategies, progress and results.
  • Use an “Urgent and Important” policy that dictates that all calls from Big Fish must be answered immediately.
  • Offer awards and recognition for big-company ideas and actions.
  • Begin a training and certification program based on the six keys I listed above.

These six keys and tips will help you instill a big-company mindset through your company, and that will help you be more prepared and more likely to land your own Big Fish. Once you and your team are consistently thinking this way, you’ll be unstoppable.

And who knows? They may just build a famous memorial to you someday, put your face on US currency, or give you your own holiday.

If you need help putting together an incentive program or other way to push your team toward the big-company mindset, try my FREE test drive of to have me coach you through the process, along with my extensive library of marketing resources and tools.

One Response to Abe Lincoln’s Big Fish

  1. Janet Reply

    March 21, 2013 at 12:04 am

    My team is me, so that means that I need to think big myself. I think I can print these 6 points and place them on the wall by my desk so I can recall these ideas on a daily basis. thanks Steve.

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