Today Barbara Weaver Smith is joining me. She’s answering a few questions I’ve asked her and sharing insights from her book, Whale Hunting Women. The title intrigued me – I always like unusual titles – so I had to find out a bit about the book.
Thanks for joining us, Barbara. Let’s get started on the questions, shall we?
D: What are whale hunting women?
B: Whale Hunting Women are women who do deals, women who aspire to do deals, and women who want to connect with other women to do bigger deals. By “deals” I mean sales of goods or services, planning and implementing major community projects, raising money for important needs and opportunities, founding a business,
D: Are women small business owners and managers particularly suited to negotiating deals with larger companies? If so, why?
B: In my book, I have written about three key traits that women bring to negotiating big deals: listening, alignment, and empathy. Women are socialized to practice these traits and rewarded for doing so; I think they are also characteristics that we like to bring into our business world. In a complex sale with a large company, you need to listen more than you talk in order to learn what the buyers are really looking for. You need to figure out how best to align your deliverables with the buyers’ interests. And you need to imagine yourself in their position in order to understand that they are fearful of making a mistake and it is your job to help overcome that fear.
D: What stops women small business owners and managers from pursuing deals with larger companies?
B: Two things: one, lack of confidence; two, lack of knowledge. The lack of confidence I call “the minnow mindset,” a reluctance to recognize that you are growing and gaining in capacity all the time—that it’s time to say “no” to things that are too small or not in your strategic direction so that you can develop the capability to do bigger things. But when you are determined to gain the confidence, you still need to know in detail how large companies buy and how you should prepare for what we call a whale hunt. It’s a disciplined, step-by-step process that is outlined in my book Whale Hunting: How to Land Big Sales and Transform Your Company (available through amazon.com) and expanded upon in Whale Hunting Women.
D: Can you give us an example of a successful whale hunting woman?
B: On my website (www.thewhalehunters.com) under the tab “success stories” are two current interviews with whale hunting women who have been especially successful—Margie Traylor, CEO of Sitewire Marketspace Solutions in Tempe, Arizona, and Elaine Ralls, President of AIR Marketing in Phoenix. The case studies reveal in detail what Margie and Elaine have learned about whale hunting and how they have applied these processes in their respective companies.
Outside of the more familiar business context, I’d offer the example of former Indy car racer Lyn St. James, (www.lynstjames.com) who is a speaker at many of our Whale Hunting Women events. Lyn defines whale hunting as the systematic pursuit of the big sponsorships that a driver requires in order to finance her participation. As a groundbreaker, one of the first women in racing and first to win Rookie of the Year at the Indy 500, Lyn found the search for big sponsors to be very difficult. But after about 150 attempts to reach a major sponsor, she landed J. C. Penney’s. So—determination, a systematic process of pursuit, a very strong case for support, and a lot of help from other members of her team (we call it the boat) were necessary before she was able to land that first whale.
D: Tell us about the whale hunting women network and how it might benefit a small business owner or manager.
B: The Whale Hunting Women Network is becoming a worldwide network of women who consider themselves whale hunters. It includes annual Summit events in key cities, local chapters whose members learn how to hunt whales and coach each other on deals, a membership-based online community for continued dialog and exposure to new ideas, tools, and inspiration. Benefits for a small business owner or manager include
- explicit training on The Whale Hunters Process, delivered online and/or in local and regional live events
- peer support, advice, and counsel from other Whale Hunting Women
- deal coaching for specific big deals that she is hunting
Thanks for visiting and answering my questions, Barbara. I like your ideas about traits that can help close a business deal. I think I’ve gained some useful information from your answers.
Is there anything you’d like to say in closing, Barbara?
I invite your readers to explore these options and/or request more information at www.chapters.thewhalehunters.com
To learn about Whale Hunting Women & to order your copy today, visit
Thank you for visiting this post about me, Barbara Weaver Smith, and Whale Hunting Women. Two people who comment during the tour will be entered a giveaway – post a comment on any post about the tour and you will be entered. The winners will win a three-volume audio set of Whale Hunters Wisdom. Volumes include I: Mind of a Hunter, II: The Hunt, and III: The Whale Hunting Culture ($90 value). Barbara Weaver Smith’s website –
Barbara Weaver Smith’s blog –
Order your copy of Whale Hunting Women –
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About Barbara Weaver Smith
Barbara Weaver Smith, president and CEO of The Whale Hunters, is an author, consultant, speaker, and coach. Barbara held positions as an English professor, a college dean, and a nonprofit organization president before founding her first company in 1996. Informed by her leadership experiences in all economic sectors, Barbara’s mission is to support women to achieve exceptional growth in their companies and organizations by doing bigger deals with bigger customers and partners.