I started out in the service side of business and was given an opportunity to go into corporate sales while working for a Fortune 500 company.
Back story: I had spent two years on the road installing computer systems in five western states when I woke up one day not knowing where I was or where I was supposed to be.
I did think to call my boss to ask for his help and he told me I was in Denver and needed to be in Colorado Springs in an hour even though it was a 90 minute drive in snowy conditions.
I jumped into the car and after driving for about thirty minutes I realized something didn’t seem right. This was in 1978, so I didn’t have a cell phone. I pulled into a gas station and asked for directions. I was smugly informed I had gone the wrong direction and now I was two hours away from my destination.
When I finally arrived at the clients office I called back to my office and informed my boss I would have to resign. He asked for me to come into the office on Monday to talk about it.
When I arrived at the office the National Sales Manager was there waiting to talk with me. They wanted me to go through their sales training program and take over one of the local sales territories.
Most people would have jumped at the opportunity, but I was more than a bit leery of sales consultants after seeing their shenanigans at trade shows.
I went home and thought about it for a few days and decided to follow my husband’s advice. He told me the experience would be priceless and would help me the rest of my life, not to mention the base salary income potential was nearly three times what I had made in the service position.
The Results: My first sales call was with a manufacturer of medical diagnostic instruments. I spent two days preparing for the presentation and developed an elaborate cost justification proposal for the $40,000 system I was proposing.
My sales manager had me go solo, I suppose as part of my training, and he had very little to offer in the way of advice.
I walked into the meeting and after a few polite exchanges I presented my beautifully typeset proposal, with graphics, to the client. After slightly more than an hour he leaned back in his chair and asked if I could wait for a few minutes. What choice did I have?
When I returned to the office after two hours, my sales manager and the rest of the sales team greeted me at the door.
“How did it go?” he asked.
“Just fine.” I offered with a deadpan delivery.
“We thought if you had to present to the most difficult of all your potential prospects first and got it out of the way, everyone else would be easy for you. We’ve been trying to close them for two years.” he offered.
I sat my band new soft leather sales briefcase down on the receptionist desk, opened it and pulled out the purchase order for $42,000 and handed it to my sales manager.
With a quizzical look he said, “I’ll be damned!”
What I did was think like the client rather than trying to sell to him. I knew what he needed to be more efficient, productive and reduce the stress of the time consuming process they had been doing.
Results: Ten years later, after achieving some of the highest awards in the Fortune 500 company, I found myself teaching courses on selling to needs and personality requirements. My clients saw as much as a 50% increase in their sales volumes using these techniques.
And now, I am proud to be in sales and love showing others how to sale what they are passionate about while getting the best results.