Have you ever felt like you’ve been ambushed by a client? I think if you’re in sales, it’s bound to happen sooner or later.
I had been in sales for more than ten years when I drove over an hour to get to a prospects office to present them with my proposal. They had been working with a local travel agency who often let the employees pick and choose their own flights with leg deviations which would take them to obscure locations so they could visit family, sight see or other diversions.
Their monthly travel expenses had sky rocketed from $100,000 to $400,000 over a period of two years without adding any more members to their sales team.
They also experienced time delays in getting their tickets when the agency didn’t have available staff to make the deliveries which would require the prospect’s office staff to go out to pick up the tickets.
I had met the CEO in a social setting and had built a nice rapport with him. He was my age and easy to talk with.
But when I got to his office to talk with him about my concept, he walked me into his conference room where 11 of the officers of the company were “sitting in waiting” for me.
Little did I know but they were all drastically opposed to relinquishing their control over their flight schedules. They enjoyed the extra perks of being able to divert their trip from Alaska to stop over in Seattle for the weekend to visit their relatives or other similar examples.
The CEO was well familiar with their habits and never realized how costly the practice had become. Once the sales team heard of what the management team was doing, they also took advantage of the little side trips, but often their ventures lead them much further astray from a direct flight path.
The CFO was the most resistant. He explained he preferred to book his own flight and after more than an hour of explanations as to why the officers of the company felt they had a right to continue to do so, I asked the CFO, “If you don’t mind me asking, what is your salary?”
Of course he repelled at my question and refused to tell me.
“I pay my travel agents top dollar, they make $10 an hour to be experts on booking flights. I assume you make considerably more than $10 an hour right?”
The entire room broke out in laughter, except the CFO of course.
Results: The CEO signed the agreement and I was able to install a ticket printer in the CFO’s office, have my staff make all the travel arrangements and have the tickets automatically printed in their office.
There were no more diversionary flights allowed and the first year the company saved more than a million dollars.
Consultative selling encompasses a broad spectrum of understanding the client’s environment.
Saving a client 25% of their travel budget was the largest financial impact I had ever made.
Selling to the Driver personality of the CEO and knowing the characteristics of his personality is what made the difference.