When Norm Brodsky went into a large accounting firm in New York City to pitch CitiStorage, his archive-retrieval business, he knew he'd need to offer more than good prices to woo the customer away from its current storage company. "I have to tell you," said the partner with whom Brodsky met, "I've been doing business with these people for a very long time, and I like them." No amount of talking--or price-cutting--was going to win over this customer.
So Brodsky asked to spend some time in the firm's records room. He told the partner, "Records management is my business. I can offer some suggestions on how to improve your system and generate substantial savings." Two hours later, Brodsky reported the inefficiencies he had found. "There were too many boxes on the premises," he says. "The firm was constantly having to send some back to make room for new ones. As a result, it wound up ordering--and paying for--five deliveries a week, instead of only one." Brodsky also offered to help the accountants find the software they needed to update their tracking system.
For another eight months, Brodsky continued to give the firm advice and hammered out the specific terms of a possible deal. Meanwhile, the prospect was also negotiating with its competitor. "In the end, our patience was rewarded," reports Brodsky. "We landed the account."