Dan Waldschmidt

by Dan Waldschmidt

October 14, 2012

Here Is What’s Wrong with “Thinking Big”.

BARBARA WEAVER SMITH understands how to help companies find, hunt, and close big deals.  She is the Best Selling co-author of  “Whale Hunting: How to Land Big Sales and Transform Your Company” and a Partner at Waldschmidt Partners International.  Today, her blog challenges the idea that thinking big is all that it is cracked up to be.


A lot of small companies adopt a mantra of “Think Big, Act Big” as a way to motivate everyone towards growth.  It’s an amazingly common attitude.  Donald Trump claims he invented the “Think Big” phrase.  New Zealand thinks their prime minister invented it. It’s the title of a really bad movie.  So I don’t really know where it comes from, but I know the idea is everywhere.

There’s just one big problem with it.  It’s all about YOU and not at all about your customers.

So “Thinking Big” can really backfire unless you are specific about what it means to your company.  Otherwise, you’re all so busy congratulating yourselves for thinking big and acting big that you forget to analyze what think big should entail and what act big should look like.

So, let’s look at what “Thinking Big” requires.

1. Think Big in Detail.

The whole premise behind thinking big is that it’s not harder to think big than to think small, so you might as well think big.  I applaud that!  Okay, let’s all get together and think big.  After all, the guiding metaphor of Whale Hunting is about how the Inuit people thought big and went out after the biggest mammals on earth.  But just thinking big didn’t land any whales.  You will need detailed information, knowledge, preparation, and execution plans in order for your big ideas to fulfill their promise.  Big ideas are a dime a dozen.  Solid execution strategies are rare.

2.Think Big in Increments.

I define a “whale” as an account that is ten to twenty times the size of your current average deal.  As you land these accounts, your current average deal size increases, so the target deal size increases as well.  The point is to manage your growth–define “big” in relationship to where you are now and what would be your next big step up.  If you can’t harvest what you land, thinking big was a bad idea. Thinking “how big” allows you to grow substantially without putting you under.

3. Think Big Like the Buyers Do.

Big company buyers are motivated by fear.  When they think big, they are thinking of big risks, big problems, and big mistakes.  When you are small and unknown to them, their fear is that much bigger.  So just thinking big won’t help you in that circumstance.  Rather you have to think about what will scare them about you and work to overcome those fears with tangible evidence of your expertise, your knowledge and experience, and your history of implementing what you’ve promised with other customers.  The more you think from your customer’s point of view, the closer you will come to landing bigger deals with bigger customers.

Go ahead–think big!

But also do your homework, manage your growth, and understand that the buyers are afraid of you.

About the author

Dan Waldschmidt

Dan Waldschmidt doesn’t just talk about leveling up. He’s obsessed with it. He's set records as an ultra-runner and been the personal strategist for the leading business leaders of our time. He wrote a book, called EDGY Conversations that accidentally became a worldwide bestseller and continues to share his insights from the stage as a keynote speaker and on the blogs and podcasts you will find here. Most days, you'll find Dan heads-down, working on breakthrough strategies for his clients at EDGY Inc, a highly-focused, invite-only, business strategy execution company based out of Silicon Valley.