White whale

A big sales prospect that is difficult to close. Also referred to as simply a whale.

What is a "White Whale" and why are they called that?

In a sales context, a "white whale" (or whale) is a term used to describe a potential customer or client who is particularly difficult to win over or to persuade to make a purchase. This term is often used to describe a customer who is highly sought after because they have a lot of potential value, but who is also elusive and difficult to close. The phrase "white whale" comes from the novel "Moby-Dick," in which the main character, Captain Ahab, is obsessed with hunting and killing a giant white whale. Similarly, salespeople may feel like they are on a quest to capture a difficult-to-obtain customer, much like Captain Ahab's pursuit of the white whale.

White whales usually are the top 20% of a company's customer base and typically account for 70% to 90% of a company's revenue. Closing these types of customers can be very challenging, so reps reaching out to whales should also ensure adequate time is spent filling their pipeline with qualified leads having a higher probability of closing.

If you're wondering how to easily close more white wales, think of Symbo as Captain Ahab's Harpoon... minus the rope getting caught around your neck and dragging you into the ocean.

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