He has also been able to win work with bigger businesses by jointly pitching with partners, increasing the amount of services that they offer.
“When I’m pitching, I always emphasise that the client will be dealing with me. I’m the first point of contact for the business.”
“I’m involved in designing the solution and I make sure the work gets done. It’s not like I have a sales guy who comes in and promises the client the world, only to get the technical guys involved who will say, well, yes, the project can be done, but it will cost double what was first estimated.”
Dervin says having worked inside big businesses such as Optus and Apple, he also understands how they tick and their politics.
“I’m aware of their advantages and limitations, which is really helpful,” he says.
“You also need to understand when you’re dealing with an individual inside one of these businesses, you are also dealing with all their politics.”
“You can’t just go for it; because they have brand, marketing, IT, security and communication considerations.”
In terms of maintaining connections within larger firms, Dervin says the idea is to make sure you are always on the radar of former clients so they don’t forget about you.
“Try to stay in touch with former clients because it encourages them to pass your information to other contacts within the business,” he says.
“And don’t forget to get out there and go to different networking events; and always be willing to meet new people, because you never know where work will come from.”
“But having a few big names as clients really does help your credibility and increases your chances of winning work from other big firms down the track.”
Five steps to landing a big-name client:
- Do your research. Where are the market failings? How is your business able to solve a problem when others can’t?
- Forge useful contacts. Go to networking events. Talk about your business to everyone who will listen. If they won’t give you their custom, they may know someone who will.
- Use your size to your advantage. Establish a rapport with potential clients to underline the hands-on, personal approach of your start-up. It’s a key advantage you have over the big guns.
- Don’t overstretch. It may be tempting to promise the moon and stars to a big-paying client, but can you afford it? Will it run your business into the ground? What will the consequences be if they ditch you in the future?
- Keep the lines of communication open. You’re a start-up with a small, personable team. It may even be just yourself in the business. This means that you aren’t a large, faceless corporate that chews up clients and spits them out. Don’t burn bridges with former clients and try to maintain a wide network. It can benefit you down the line.