Warren Buffett, the second richest person on the planet (behind his buddy and board member, Bill Gates) has no problem getting to dealmakers. You, however, until you make that first $1 billion, aren’t so lucky.

What you need to land a key account is a champion on the inside. Recruiting a champion is not that difficult if you know the formula. In our book How to Close A Deal Like Warren Buffett we detail a method that has been used with great success by many of our clients to find the big wheel to help them land the big deal.

The formula starts with your message, what we call The Triples.

Triple #1. Prospect’s three problems to be solved. By now, we assume you have a firm grasp on the problems you can solve for your clients. Little sales are about being a supplier or provider of standardized products and services. Big deals mean solving big problems. If you haven’t already, take the time now to write those problems down in terms of money, time, and risk. That’s the language champions want to hear.

Triple #2. The three outcomes you produce. Senior executives in your biggest opportunities are paid to create results. They hire companies like yours to produce better outcomes in those result categories than whomever is doing it now. Now you need to think about exactly how you solve these problems.

Generic language such as “improved,” “better” and “big difference” is not very compelling. So use actual numbers, specific pressure points and the type of goal-wording that you saw in the prospects’ initiatives. Such as:

1. $250,000 first quarter hard-dollar energy cost reductions

2. $500,000 tax credit for green initiatives

3. 97% on-schedule completion of installations

You have now pinpointed specific outcomes you can tell your prospect to expect. So you’ve completed the second of the Triples.

Triple #3. Your three references. The third step of the Triples is to identify at least three references you can use—people or companies who have seen similar kinds of outcomes when they used your products or services.

This can be a sensitive area. Sometimes you have to be careful because of confidentiality agreements or internal agreements with your clients. Sometimes, you can’t talk about your customers because that might put them on your competitor’s radar. Barring those limitations, we will say this: the most effective way to get the attention of prospects is to drop the names of others just like them.

Even though you haven’t done this specific deal before, you can have references address different facets of the deals you’ve done with them, remembering always to couch them in terms of money, time, and risk.

When it comes time to make your initial contact with your identified Champion, the Triples provide you an excellent way to “get in.” Here’s why. You’re talking about the very issues your prospects have identified for their company. You’re appealing to money, time, and risk when you cite your potential outcomes. And you’re telling them some other companies, much like theirs, have experienced similar kinds of outcomes from their work with you.

This is the type of message to which the big wheels in the deal will respond and about which they’ll want to hear more.

So do your homework, but understand that research isn’t everything. “If past history was all there was to the game,” says Buffet, “the richest people would be librarians.”

Author's Bio: 

Former CEOs Tom Searcy and Henry DeVries, co-authors of the McGraw-Hill book How to Close a Deal Like Warren Buffett, are experts on key account sales strategy. With his sales strategy company Hunt Big Sales, Tom has helped clients land more than $5 billion in deals. The ex-head of an Ad Age 500 agency, Henry is on the marketing faculty and is the assistant dean of continuing education at the Univ. of Calif. San Diego. When you order How to Close a Deal Like Warren Buffett today, you'll gain instant access to hundreds of dollars worth of business-building tools and advice from leading experts. Details here.