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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

10 key questions to ask before signing that ‘big-name’ client

A large potential client with instant brand-name recognition could boost your company’s profile, but make sure the contract is worth your while before rushing to sign.

10 key questions to ask before signing that ‘big-name’ client
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]

For B2B companies, nothing is more thrilling than finding out that you’ve captured the attention of a key player in your target audience. If you discover that a major prospect is interested in your services, it can be tempting to get swept up in the excitement of bringing them on board.

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While it’s always exciting to see your marketing efforts pay off, there are some things you need to consider before rushing to sign that big-name client. Below, 10 Fast Company Executive Board members shared the most important questions B2B leaders should ask themselves before taking the plunge.

1. DOES THE WORK FIT OUR CAPABILITIES AND CAPACITY?

It is important to not get your head too far in front of your skis when considering taking on new work. You want to make sure that you can deliver quality work to the client in a timely manner. – Joseph DeWoody, Valor Mineral Management

2. AM I PUSHING MYSELF TO A BREAKING POINT?

I’ve seen so many companies push themselves to the breaking point to deliver their first big enterprise contract, postponing other contracts, delaying paid customers, and burning out valued team members. Don’t risk the company for a contract. – Jessica Federer, Boston Millennia Partners

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3. ARE THEY A GOOD CLIENT?

Instead of, “Are they a big client?” you should be asking, “Are they a GOOD client?” You can define that question however you want, but I would suggest putting a few things on the list: Are they nice to work with? Do they pay well and on time? Are they smart or clueless? Will they grind your team into the ground? Are they a good fit for the results you will provide? – Kevin Namaky, Gurulocity Brand Management Institute

4. DO I HAVE THE RESOURCES TO HANDLE THIS CLIENT?

While you may understand what it takes to deliver your services to a typical industry client, top players are different. There can be additional layers of red tape, requests for endless meetings, longer than usual approval processes, and more. A wonderful opportunity can turn into a nightmare if you don’t play your cards right. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

5. IS THIS A GOOD PRODUCT-CLIENT FIT?

You should honestly measure the “product-client fit.” Is this going to be valuable to your new client depending on their size, industry, geography, buyer persona? Will they be there to help you with promoting a case study afterward? Is the value so significant that you think this account can continue to expand? Showing investors a big logo that has never expanded can cause more trouble than use. – Yoav Vilner, Walnut

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6. WILL THEY BE ABLE TO PAY?

Are they going to pay me—on time and in full? At the end of the day, cash in the door is like oxygen. The bigger the name, the more important it is to ensure you have a clear collection strategy. – Meagan Bowman, STOPWATCH

7. DOES THE BUSINESS HAVE A SKILLED TEAM AND THE RIGHT BANDWIDTH?

While collaborating with high-profile clients can help you build a robust portfolio, it can greatly influence your reputation too. So the obvious question to ask would be if a business has a skilled team and bandwidth to execute the project. Keeping this in mind, begin with assessing resources, establishing end goals and managing expectations to lay the groundwork for a long and fruitful partnership. – Irfan Khan, CLOUDSUFI

8. WILL MY BUSINESS BECOME OVER-RELIANT ON THIS BIG-NAME CLIENT?

Businesses cannot survive on a few big-name clients alone. Make sure that your company has a steady flow of smaller clients for your long-term success. Without these smaller clients, a business ends up vulnerable if the big client leaves or has unreasonable demands. So, don’t forget to focus on smaller customers, too. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

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9. WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS CONTRACT?

Leaders need to ask themselves what the implications of this contract will be. Do you have the resources to properly manage expectations and ensure you do not disappoint? Are there gaps within your current processes that could hinder product/service deliverables with such a large client? Would it be better to gradually grow with small to mid-level clients first before signing this deal? – Amanda Dorenberg, COMMB

10. AM I PREPARED TO HANDLE THIS?

The question would be, “Am I prepared to handle this (operation-wise, employee management, finance, client management )?” Every business desires to catch a big fish. It brings immense income, validates the relevance of the company, and generates proof that other target audiences will lay their eyes on it. But the product or service you provide must correspond to the possible client you will close. – Lane Kawaoka, SimplePassiveCashflow.com

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