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Find an Underdog Customer


Chris Dohl,
vice president of
The Alias Group

In the recent March Madness college basketball tournament, Sister Jean and 11th seeded Loyola-Chicago basketball team captured the nation’s heart. For the first time since 1963, they were in the Final Four. Everyone likes to root for an underdog and no one fit the bill better than Loyola.

You can utilize that same underdog bias in business and marketing. Since everyone wants to see the little guy succeed, the real challenge of propping an underdog client up for success is identifying them in the first place.

Often organizations only devote a minor footnote of their business strategy to growth that will come from increasing share with your existing customers. Most of their time is spent figuring out how to acquire new customers or improve lead generations. But that minor footnote is the most reliable source for underdogs companies will ever get their hands on, and people are letting them go to waste.

At The Alias Group, that source is not neglected. We do all we can to ensure customers aren’t being ignored just because other companies might not deem their small account worthy of their time. To that effect, we have a few tips on how you and your sales team can identify your underdog and rally behind them in 2018.

1) Segment your small customers through old school phone work

When is the last time you or your sales team picked up the phone and talked to the bottom 20% of your customer base? We’re guessing it’s not as recent as you’d like. Dealing with the other 80% of your base takes up the majority of your time. It’s perfectly natural.

If you have talked to the bottom 20%, you may not even know what to say. You don’t deal with them as much, so the ground is less familiar. A tool that might make the initial interactions easier is the profile field, a tool that helps you identify growth potential. On it, obvious questions about competitive purchases, number of salespeople, and other industry specific questions needed to help gauge their opportunity for growth are all-important. If you don’t have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to input the data, use a good old-fashioned Excel spreadsheet.

2) Don’t let the past dictate the future

When taking a fresh look at the bottom of your customer list, it’s important not to put too much weight on previous comments. Stories about a rocky relationship or how the potential customer is too small to worry about are perspectives from the past. A new phone call may identify that they are under new ownership or just landed a huge contract where they could use your product or service.

3) Don’t be fooled by a website

Don’t spend valuable time dissecting every nuance on their website. Call the customer. Anyone who spends a hundred bucks can have a website that makes them look like a multinational corporation, while other big companies looks much smaller. The Alias Group has customers whose websites look like a high schooler’s HTML project from 1999 while their revenue is closer to a small nation’s GDP. Then there are other websites that look like a Fortune 500 company while their financials amount to whatever they found between the couch cushions that morning. The underdogs will be somewhere in between, but the only reliable way to find out is by making that phone call.

4) Be persistent

Calling customers you don’t have a relationship with is tough. Often, customers won’t give you the amount they buy from a competitor on that first call, so build some rapport on the first call and dial them again in a couple of days. It may take several conversations before you truly understand if they’re an underdog worth rooting for.

Growing your business and boosting its success doesn’t always mean you need to search outside of your network. Sometimes you have to search within to find that hidden talent, that secret weapon. It may take several conversations before you truly understand if those smaller customers are an underdog worth rooting for, but building on existing relationships can become a more dependable option than bringing in new customers.


Chris Dohl is the Vice President of Sales at The Alias Group and uses his operations experience driving improvement in manufacturing processes to streamline the sales process. The goal of The Alias Group is to create unique sales and marketing processes to drive customers’ growth in a wide range of industries.

Before coming to work at The Alias Group in 2006, he studied Operations Management at the University of Delaware and worked at W.L. Gore & Associates as a Manufacturing Leader in the Electronic and Industrial divisions.

Chris’s passion is his family, and enjoys running his daughter and two sons to a variety of sporting events. On a rare break from selling and enjoying time with his family, Chris enjoys golfing at his home course, Hartefeld National, and playing poker with his buddies.

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