Chapter 16Not Too Big, Not Too Small

Small deals can sink you, but so can big ones. Mark Suster envisioned customers as three kinds of animals—rabbits, deer, and elephants—and came up with the metaphor “Most startups should be deer hunters.” For early-stage companies, he said to focus on the deer (good-sized deals) and avoid the rabbits (too small) and the elephants (the largest companies and deals, which are difficult to sell to and service, very demanding, and hard to make successful).

Mark wrote, “It's tempting on many levels to be an elephant hunter. If you manage to kill an elephant, it'll have so much meat it will feed you for a long time. But elephants are hard to catch, and they take whole teams of people to bring down. They take special tools. If you're not successful you may starve. And if you do catch them, it could be even worse. Avoid elephants in your early stages.”

David tackled Goliath, but your life is not a myth. Be smart about the largest deals and companies that you can:

  1. Realistically close
  2. Realistically help succeed in a big way
  3. And that won't kill you with new product requirements or service level expectations that take your business off course

When You Can't Turn Small Deals into Big Ones

If you're doing lots of small deals with big companies but nothing's turning into bigger opportunities, something's off. It could be that you're not selling high enough; the product isn't a need for your customers or explained the right way to them, or perhaps you're ...

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