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American Express


Red Lobster



United States Postal Service

Salvation Army

Time-Life Books

National Geographic


New York Yankees

Washington Redskins

Ruth's Chris Steak House

TJ Maxx

GoodYear Tires

Bell South

Federal Government Case Study

pic 2“Rainmaker lands high-profile account that’s still booking over $1.2 billion annually…13 years later.”

The Challenge

American Express charges the highest fees to merchants in the charge and credit card industry. This requires their sales professionals to be on top of their game when trying to land very large, sophisticated accounts. Especially if the merchant doesn’t understand the incremental value they will receive from the relationship.

In addition, without places to use the Card for payment Cardmembers can become dissatisfied, cancel their cards, and begin to use competitive products. This potentially could erode American Express’ revenue stream and is always a major concern.

At one point during my career at American Express, I held a position called a “Top Gun”. As a “Top Gun”, I was responsible for convincing merchants who had never accepted the American Express Card for payment from customers, to accept the card for payment.

The company based my compensation on the projected volume of the accounts I convinced to affiliate. In order to make big money in this job I needed to land a big client. One everyone else had missed. But who…?

In Walks Uncle Sam

Finally, one day I found one. I was sitting in my office doing research on the internet and it struck me that I had missed the biggest one of all. Here I am sitting in Washington, D.C. and what is the entire city focused on?

The U. S. Government!

Of course the next question I asked myself was, “How do I wrestle this one-thousand pound gorilla to the ground?”

So off I went to do a little research. Interestingly enough I discovered the U.S. Mint was the biggest profit center in the Federal Government system. This should not have been much of a surprise; everything else is a cost center.

As I researched further, I came to find out that the U.S. Mint made these profits selling numismatic coins via mail order to coin collectors. Additionally, one of their major competitors was the Franklin Mint who already accepted the American Express Card for payment.

Bingo … there must be a market!

Armed with this information I picked-up the phone book, called the U.S. Mint’s switchboard, and asked to speak to whoever was in charge of their credit card negotiations. They switched me over and I had a nice conversation with this gentleman who said he actually would love to accept American Express and we scheduled an appointment.

During our conversation, I determined the U.S. Mint should generate about $40 million dollars annually for American Express so I was excited. Finally a big one!

When I showed-up for the meeting about a week later I was surprised to find a meeting room filled with people, about 20 or so. I felt a bit awkward, one-person fielding questions from 20 folks but I proceeded with the meeting.

What I found out as this meeting progressed was that…

My ship had “really” come in!

They not only were they interested in accepting the card for transactions at the U.S. Mint but for every agency in the Federal Government network worldwide. Conservatively this account was a $1.2 billion dollar deal.

I couldn’t believe it…

It was all I could do to keep myself composed. I asked them a bunch of questions and told them I would need to go back to my office to crunch numbers and get back to them.

Too bad I didn’t have a camera the day I came back to my office and told my boss. The look on his face was priceless. He was literally grinning ear-to-ear. It was great! He was filled with such pride that he forced me to call his boss in New York who was in charge of the merchant business worldwide and drop the bomb.

This guy couldn’t believe it either.

However, there were a few “Big” obstacles

While landing this account was going to be a huge coup, there were some big problems…

I begged these executives to allow me to continue and those two guys…let me do it.


The Solution

I continued in my pursuit working on a number of steps simultaneously to ensure we would be ready and able to work with this client if I convinced them we could provide value.

Some of the required activities included…

  1. Establishing a pricing structure for government accounts
  2. Setting-up a test to prove our profitability to the client
  3. Leveraging our profitability with the U.S. Mint
  4. Securing funds to underwrite the bidding process
  5. Creating a proposal in response to their I.E.I.
  6. Developing contracts
  7. Creating a process to contact the Prime contractors
  8. Convincing our treasury department to pre-fund an account so funds could be transferred in time to meet the Department of Treasury’s funding window
  9. Training our sales force nationwide
  10. Identifying other bidders and negotiating subcontracting agreements
  11. Creating a back-end reconciliation process
  12. Developing a process for affiliating the new accounts

In addition, I had to inform and leverage the right internal executives and arrange meetings with the people that mattered within the Department of Treasury. Players much larger than little old me. They had to be briefed and meetings had to be orchestrated for it all to finally come to pass.

The Result

I created ways for all of their requirements to be met and was able to land a $1.2 billion a year client for American Express.

In addition, once the infrastructure was in place to support government accounts we were able to affiliate many more state and local municipalities exploding this untapped revenue stream.

This was the most financially rewarding client I ever landed. However, the most satisfying part of the entire process had to be after facing years of seemingly endless obstacles and methodically being able to conquer them all one-by-one I was finally able to win the contract for myself and the two bosses that believed in me.

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