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MARKETING

Get in the Door One Step at a Time

Asking for a little bit of the business as an alternative sales strategy.
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Yours is such a little company, and your potential customers -- outfits like General Electric, Citibank, and IBM -- are so huge. If you could just sign one of them on as a full-scale client, the revenues would be magnificent.

"Hello," you say, knocking on the corporate front door. "We're new and we're good, and we'd like to service your whole company."

"Beat it, kid."

Pierce Lowrey Jr., a Texan transplanted to New York City, has a different approach. He goes to the back door and asks for just a little bit of the business. That strategy, he says, is more likely than the other to get him invited in -- and once he's in, he'll be in a much better position to sell.

Lowrey's company, Imtech, provides back-office support services to large companies. Imtech can operate mail rooms, data-processing departments, copy and printing shops, record-maintenance systems -- almost anything that's information-related. By the end of Imtech's fourth year, sales had climbed to $21 million, but not because of one or two big scores. The company has more than 200 clients. Naturally, it will keep hunting new ones. But a large part of Imtech's growth will come from expanding its sales to the elephants it's already bagged. "After you've caught one," Lowrey says, "the way to eat it is one bite at a time." -- Tom Richman





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