Validation! I made a sale today! Well, actually, its taking me almost a week to write this post, but the idea came to me the day I got the ink! It felt phenomenal. Please note that the business Im in is very difficult, and the most successful reps make 15 – 20 sales a year. In fact, just 12 sales in a year (with certain minimum values) guarantees you the annual trip. Just one sale a month, doable right? Sure it is, but I got a long way to go to figure it out. Including this new client, I have made 4 sales in the nearly two years I’ve been with my current employer. Thats a lot of faith I have had to maintain to believe that my time is being well spent! So let me break down the components of the deal so that I can learn from (and relish) the win.
Intro: I actually got thrown a bone on this one, it was a corporate lead assigned to me. My company doesn’t have a formal process of assuring equal distribution of leads, they are given to the managers who then assign them to the team. My best guess is its a combination of recognition, favoritism, and luck. Anyway, I was fortunate to receive this one! At the beginning it seemed like a long-shot, an industry we are not favorable in, a brand new business, and an insistence on a phone call not an in person meeting. A senior, more busy rep would have punted, but I was happy to take what I could get!
Process: I felt like the intro call went great. The client seemed to be motivated for the right reasons, and seemed to positively respond to the differences I laid out from my competitors in the industry, an industry where she had experience working as an employee of my main competitor! I think in the end this helped me, as it didn’t seem to have been a great experience for her.
And then she went dark.
It took her what felt like forever to get me the documents necessary for us to move to the next stage of approving her as a client ( we turn down a lot of potential business which is part of the reason our sales are so few and far between) and conducting our analysis. She did eventually get me the info after consistently “checking in” and as a bonus I got credit for 2 profiles since they were 2 companies in one, Booyah! The bad news arrived about a week and twenty emails later. One of the companies got declined for our service. I presented her some options but she insisted that if we couldn’t work with both of them, it would be a deal breaker. Then I did the unthinkable : I referred her to a competitor! I had a genuine interest in trying to solve her problem and wanted to be of service. This is an assumption, not verified by her, but I think this action led to tremendous credibility building of my reputation. Anyway, a few months later she’s interested to see what it looked like to help the company we approved. That was a great email to receive! Turns out none of our competitors could approve the second company. At this point I did another thing to break our mold of an ideal sales process, I gave her an idea of the cost before the proposal! I really didn’t want to get my hopes up again for this account, so I gave her a pretty close estimate of what our total cost would be, and they agreed to want to see the details. Some of my peers are nervous about showing their cards, we are a premium service and charge accordingly. A great thing I have learned from our more successful reps is to be proud of this and that its ok to weed out the price only buyers early in the process.
The Close: So my manager was with me on the proposal even though I interacted with this client mostly on my own. A new person on the buyer side was introduced as well, the managing partner and decision maker. We went through our detailed proposal binder and answered questions along the way, presenting pricing near the end. Then the managing partner made a few interesting comments. 1) I want to make sure you make a nice profit. and 2) how does this work, I go get 2 other proposals come back to you then what will you do? My manager deflected this beautifully. Because of your size, we have no room (true statement). However as you grow we can agree to certain concessions. It is the last day of our accounting month (true statement) If I can get you those concessions in email, can you send us a singed agreement? “Sure” We shook hands and each party did what they said they were going to do.
The Glow: Man it felt great to ring that bell for the team! Everyone gathers round and we get to tell the story. It reminds me of my youth, on deer hunting trips with my uncles and cousins, recounting how often we got outsmarted, and the rare times we are victorious. But thats a whole other article!
After ringing the bell, we get to do the sales checklist that includes our commission report! And guess what, it was really easy for me to make cold calls with a smile on my face the rest of the afternoon!
Even though the sale has been made the work begins! I have to make sure the client meets critical on boarding dates and that we deliver what we are supposed to. I have no worries about our end, I believe fully in our team. After all, they have had only 3 chances to screw it up and haven’t yet!by