This is a post that somehow got me conflicted to whether I was going to share this or not. You see the goal I have when I write my posts is to share something valuable and at the same time is positive. In this post I had to recall a negative event in my life the story may be somewhat negative at the beginning but somehow without the story I never would have thought about how I got to formulate the plan and learn how effective it is. If you would like to skip the story just go to the bolded list at the end.
Meetings lead to clients. If you have enough.
This advice is so effective it could get you fired.
I entered a company at a transition. I was hired as a senior sales rep. The entire sales team had the CEO as the head a VP of project management overseeing deliverables. A sales manager. A sales trainee and two senior sales reps including myself.
The sales manager had just left and the company and my fellow senior sales manager, being in the company a few months ahead of me got promoted.
The trainee was about to get fired because she couldn’t sell something. The trainee was hard working but didn’t have the right technique. For three months she had one or two appointments a month. Not too effective. In our field it took maybe ten to fifteen appointments to land a client.
I was told she was about to get fired. Later that day I was listening to my boss conducting an interview on how they see the company as more than just a business but as a family. I felt that with how my boss treated me. We were like the Yakuza on the TV. My boss took care of my needs in terms of information and resources and I provided unquestioning loyalty. Kind of like Darth Vader to the Emperor Palpatine. I tried to learn from my boss as much as I can in terms of how he presents. Later he told me I was unique and my ability to generate new prospective clients was on a higher level than most people he has seen and I should appreciate and focus on that. I thought at the time that it was a nudge from him to use my skills to contribute to the company. The trainee who’s about to get fired is “family” after all. So without my immediate boss knowing, I tried to save her. It was a surprise.
Beg for forgiveness do not ask for permission as Tim Ferriss said. People are quick to stop you when you’re about to begin but hesitant to get in the way once you’re in motion and achieving results.
I talked to the trainee. I asked her about her performance. Okay she said. Not a good answer. I asked about the numbers. I asked about her challenges. I could relate to every little thing. Then I told her that in sales, your career depends on results. If you get fired it was because you couldn’t produce, if you got perks it was because you can. I told her that with her performance, I wouldn’t be surprised if she got fired soon. She took it in like a champ but I didn’t stop there. I told her that with her permission I could teach her a strategy that could change her results. She agreed to a one day trial.
At the end of the shift we walked together and I insisted that she does a short list of things I need her to do. I had to leave for an event the next day and I’ll check back with her on her results. She agreed.
I didn’t know she was about to get fired the next day. She produced three appointments in one day. Results that previously took her a few months to achieve. My boss was seriously reconsidering but my new immediate boss was furious at me for bypassing her and insisted that she got fired (possibly for personal reasons) despite the dramatic change in numbers. I admitted everything to my boss. I became a target on her hit list and eventually got fired.
I landed a big account. That didn’t help. For some reason my boss saw me differently. He was my favourite because he reminded me of my older brother. We played Starcraft 2 at the end of the workweek and I had always wanted to beat him. I almost did. We smoked together at least five times a day discussing sales and Starcraft and tech and other geeky stuff. Eventually he stopped talking to me. I told my new sales manager my boss was my favourite smoking buddy because we get to talk about stuff I don’t get to talk to with others. I have no idea how that got twisted. Eventually everyone at my work who were fully supportive had declined from assisting me in tasks essential to sales activities.
As I was packing up my things a client called my phone informing me that she was trying to reach me at the office for a week and had talked to my boss about their sincere interest to purchase. According to the client a lady who claimed to be my boss told her that she will forward a message. I never got a message forwarded for a week. She smiled at me when I found out. I couldn’t do anything about it because I was out of the picture.
I didn’t realise game of thrones was in play where I worked. I was laughing my ass off when I watched Game of Thrones years after the incident. I learned two things. Politics are real. If you do a Ned Stark as hand of the king you’ll get beheaded. And two. My advise worked.
Here’s the advice that got me fired.
On a daily basis…
**1. Write down 30-50 people you will call today and their phone numbers on paper**. Computers are distracting. There’s a bazillion things to do and notifications. Stop. Just focus on calling for 30 minutes or so and you’ll do fine.
**2. Do your first round of calls between 10-12.** People in the Philippines who work 9-5 don’t feel like working until later in the day. Many management people in my experience start work at 10am. It’s also easier to get an answer when they’re about to go on lunch. Hey I’m about to go. Here’s my email. Just send it there.
**3. Do the second round of your calls between 2-4pm.** Similar principles apply. People want to go home. If you ask them to make a decision now they are likely to decline. You don’t want them to make a decision. You want to get to the next step. Their email or their schedule next week.
**4. Get the name contact person by asking who to address the proposals to**. You can’t sell corporate services over the phone. It took me a while to realise that. Each company has unique time tables and priorities and schedules. Your goal is to find out if they’re up for it soon. The second goal is to make them think of you or to have a point of contact in the event that they have requirements to produce.
**5. Confirm possible business by asking if they received the proposal take the opportunity to inquire about current requirements.** Now that you have the email address of the contact person. Call them. Ask them if they got the email. If they say yes ask about their requirements. If they have possible requirements. Use your intuition if it’s an urgent thing. If your intuition sucks just ask them. Do they have anything urgent? If so proceed to step six.
**6. Set appointments by telling them the days you’ll be in the area and ask if they’re free at a time you set. If not ask them possible times that they are available so you can get back to them.** That’s the thing. If you set it at their convenience you’re likely to look desperate. The other things is if you adjust they’ll feel indebted to you and will decline to avoid guilt. Just offer setting the appointment in a mutually convenient set up. I’m in your area Wednesday next week. I have a lunch appointment. Would you be free at two pm? No? When are you free and I’ll see if I’ll be available.
**7. Just set three meetings that day and you’re free to do the unimportant work.** You need to pace yourself. Too many appointments will lead to too many appointment drops. The right amount will be manageable. 1-2 per day is good for me but feel free to adjust to suit your business.
Do you have your own system to get corporate clients? What had worked for you? Feel free to share in the comments.