Imagine you are making a major purchase and you have to choose between three potential suppliers who have similar offerings. One supplier is a major brand. The second is not a major brand but you have already worked with them and you have been very happy with their work. The third supplier is also not a major and you have only discovered them recently following a cold call and subsequent meeting.

Be honest. Would you take a risk on the supplier you had only just met? Chances are you would go for the major brand or the one you have already worked with. It does not matter how many testimonials they have on their website. Most people will avoid risk on a major purchase and go with the tried, tested, and trusted option.

Now lets change the decision. You have a problem that none of your existing suppliers seem to have a solution for. You have a conversation with someone following a cold call and they make a proposal which is for a small amount that easily fits within your budget. For example, they propose a short audit to investigate the problem and come up with recommendations with no tie-in. Would you give the new supplier a chance now? Chances are you would. The risk is low and they are offering a fresh approach to solving the problem.

You dramatically change the odds of winning business once you become the tried, tested, and trusted option – but you have to start somewhere. The strategy is to break into an account by focusing on an unresolved problem and start with a small first sale. You then work on developing the relationship whilst cross-selling and up-selling. Before long you will find some large opportunities where you have now become the preferred option. Alternatively you could do it the hard way and compete for every piece of business you go for!

Richard White