What is a Whale?

glos•sa•ry (n.) A list of words and their definitions. Photo © Southernpixel


In sales terminology, a whale is a prospect at least 10 times larger than your average sale. With B2B sales a whale prospect is often a company that's far larger than your own. In B2C sales it might be a prospect who buys your priciest product option and does so regularly - for example, the car shopper who buys a new Mercedes every year.

Closing deals with whales often takes far more time and effort than the typical sale, but these deals are so much larger that a single whale can be the equivalent of a dozen other sales, making them very worthwhile to pursue despite the extra trouble.

If you do a good enough job, you might just turn the whale into a repeat customer, making him even more valuable.

If you're pursuing a prospect who you believe to be a whale, preparation is key. Your prospect is probably being courted by a dozen of your competitors. You'll need to be extremely impressive to outdo all those competitors and bring the whale in as a customer. And if you do succeed, you'll want to pay extra attention to the new customer - touch base frequently to be sure that he's satisfied (and hopefully ready to keep buying).

Follow the same sales process that you use for standard prospects, only more so. For example, if you usually research a prospect well enough to ask three customized questions during the presentation, you'll want to come up with ten customized questions for your whale. Don't skimp on personal touches such as thank-you notes and possibly small gifts that reflect the prospect's interests.

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