The Man for the Job

I’ve been in meetings for the last couple of days with a large prospective client that would be a great “innovative first” in an area we are growing into and wanting to further explore. I’ve been courting this prospect for over a year now; last year I got a good referral to a department head while the client was considering doing the project, but it didn’t go very far due to existing relationships they already had in place. That faded into a memory, but I stayed in touch through our nurture marketing plan.

About a month ago, this department head sought us out again. They were once again interested in working with us, albeit on a smaller scale because even if the larger organization couldn’t get everything lined up, they wanted to on their own. Had a good meeting, but then we hit the roadblocks of organizational politics… or so I thought. This time, however, a meeting with the president materialized and everything has been flowing downhill since. My approach to foundational project work is completely different from the (failed) attempt they did last year, and over and over again my prospect is referring back to things I’ve said and how this is “the right way to go about it.” That just makes you feel good, you know?

What I wanted to write about today, though, was one thing he said yesterday that hit home with me. I don’t want to forget it, because often I do. The president was talking to a group of department heads about why this approach would be different than last year. He came out and said something like (in reference to the original department head I met witn), “I asked _____ if Chet was the man for the job, and he said was. We’re doing this right this time. It’s going to cost more. It’s going to take more effort. But in the end it will be done right, and the path we’re going down now is that right way.” (that’s a paraphrase, minus the “man for the job” line)

“The man for the job.” Set apart. Right time, right place, right people. Love it, love it, love it. My love of community and good communication has found a home in this project, and I can’t wait to embark on it. There are shared values all around, even to the point of a shared love of virtual community becoming real such as has been the case at the Daily Audio Bible. God is in this, and when you hear a client about ready to spend a pretty penny on a project say these words, and your gut tells you the same, it’s like nothing can knock you down.

Oh, and I got my tractor running last night. <<Fist Pump>>

Favor

Yesterday was a full day. It started off with an 8:00 meeting with the athletic director and booster club leader at my high school alma mater. We were talking about opportutnies for ProtegaText to partner with the boosters in supporting Plainfield athletics while getting our name out there in front of our home-town community. Conversation went great, and this is becoming one of the first “large” pieces of the marketing puzzle of getting into schools and the families that make them up. Not only did it give us a chance to learn of the benefits of sponsorship, but it also turned into a great chance to share our story and even talk about how it might work across ALL of PHS athletics, and even the entire school. That wasn’t my focus or end goal, but it did open the door for future talks. I also really think we caught the attention of the athletic director when we mentioned coming in and doing a workshop for his coaches about safety in communication with athletes. It’s interesting the things you learn by watching people, and this one caused him to really perk up and engage.

What I truly loved about this opportunity was the favor we had, even going into it. We have strong ties to PHS, both me and my business partner. We’re already doing business in the school, we both have history and friends in the school, and come to find out, we even have friends within the leadership of the booster club. What a blessing. And then, beyond all that, we got the extra incentive we were asking for. Who would have thought that no other advertiser had asked to be on the inside of the front cover? Or maybe they did, or had, but we were just the one that had a good fit, being more of a value-driven service than just another ad for real estate or your next family dinner. S.D.G. This was a great meeting.

That meeting was followed by another at 10:00 with a prospect I’ve been working on for over a year. By “working on” I mean sending occasional newsletters, really… he had long since fallen off the “hot list” of potential prospects (higher-ups and elected officials getting in the mix kind of put a damper on things). He called me up last week to get together with the town council president, we did, and they bought into our idea of crafting a new website without even seeing a single SAMPLE of my work… well, my coding work, I guess. We talked at length about building the foundation for a good site with department involvement, community involvement, and great models. It just went great. Walked out the door with consulting work for a few weeks, along with a very good indication of where the whole project will lead as that goes well.

THAT meeting was followed up by a call on my Dixie Chopper that’s for sale. I need to sell it to finish paying for parts for my new Kubota, so I was ready to make a deal. The guy and I chatted for a few minutes, and then he told me he’d be over that very afternoon to pick it up. Fast forward to the evening, and he’s placing a stack of hundred dollar bills in my hand and driving off with a mower that’s been part of our country life for many years. He even offered to send me pictures if I got lonely without it. Good guy (assuming these bills aren’t really counterfeit, like he said some of them might be).

Many other things today… borrowed a camper to go camping this weekend, talked with Joe about the next couple of weeks and months of work, and am thanking God for his blessing and favor. 

I remember walking into these meetings in the morning. I had invited Him in. Made Him welcome. Told Him I needed him there with me. And He was. He helped me smile. To laugh. To tell stories. To be comfortable enough, even proud enough, in who I am and who We are to share our story without the need of a bunch of props, gimicks, or sales pitches. He helped me listen. To ask good questions. And to realize that within me is a spark, a flame that only needs to be fanned, of greatness. And that IS Him in my life, I pray. In everything, I hope He shines.

S.D.G.

The Ideal Salesman, By Me

Several years ago I wrote up my definition of what I thought an ideal salesman would be like. When I wrote this, I had in my mind mental images of people I remembered who had been there when I made big purchases… new-to-me cars, new windows for the house, even a new house itself. I’ve been sold to, and I’ve been “sold to.” This is my definition of who I want to buy from, and hopefully, who I am setting out to be myself:

The Ideal Salesman, by me.

The ideal salesman is one who, in the end, allows the customer to walk away thinking and knowing they just got a deal on a great product. The salesperson’s job is not to hype the product or service but to show how it can meet the needs of the customer.

He should also be able to perceive deeper questions and intents than those initially verbalized, and be willing to dive deeper to discover them. He should be able to both answer questions about his product and also know when to get answers to questions he can’t address on his own. He doesn’t need to know everything, but should know who or where to go when he doesn’t.

He should know both the benefits and the limitations of what he’s selling, as well as how flexible his company is to accomodating or customizing the product.

He should be confident yet patient.

He should do all he can to walk into an appointment with some fore-knowledge of the prospect.

When it comes time to make a decision and the prospect knows all they need to, he should step away and give them the appropriate space and time, yet still be able to offer a legitimate incentive or drawback that makes making a decision NOW important.

The end result of a meeting with the ideal salesman is a happy customer who walks away KNOWING they just got a great deal on something they really need, and can’t wait to tell their friends all about it.

What I learned at my first REMC Conference

I went to my first conference with a group of REMC / Electric Co-Op’s from around the country last week. We were a “vendor” at the meeting so had the chance to set up a little table, meet some other vendors serving this industry, and talk to a wide variety of people from the REMC industry. I learned a number of things, and wanted to get them down here before I lose this sheet of paper. I may come back to this and embellish it later, but these are key things that I can do better at (or keep doing) the next time we go to a conference of any sort. Most of these are in the order of their occurance, or just randomly inserted because I remembered them.

  • It was a good idea to come as early as we did. We had our choice of tables, and also had easily access to electricity. Some other vendors that came later did not have any access to electric.
  • There was a wide variety of booth styles. Some people had 8 foot tall setups with great marketing slogans and images, others had a table full of tools, while still others had a setup much like the science fair days I used to love. Our table was not the only one with something on a computer screen, either, although it was one of only a few.
  • People are friendly. SMILE. Just because they know you have something to sell them (or help them buy) doesn’t mean that you can’t get to know them first.
  • People could not tell what we did from a 5 second glance at our table. Unless you deciphered the name, you really didn’t even know we were in the IT Consulting Business. A conversation was required. This was not ideal in this type of setting. I had relied on hoping the right slide was showing at the right time to capture the right person’s attention. Not so smart. On the second day of the conference, I took out almost every slide about “us” and just left in the pieces about the solutions we had to offer. We got a lot more attention that day.
  • As a second part to the previous lesson, there are ways to share what we do so someone doesn’t have to have a 60 second plus conversation with us first.
  • It’s important to know what type of people you’ll be dealing with, or at least what type you probably won’t be dealing with. We started off talking about our Ticket Management system, which really wasn’t in line with what most of the people we met on day 1 were. They were mainly from out of town and were also mainly safety people.
  • Toys. Toys. Toys. One guy had some sort of static ray gun that looked like it came out of an alien space ship on Star Trek. How much attention did that get him! It was amazing. I thought about bringing up Angry Birds on my laptop, but that didn’t seem entirely appropriate. Having somethign people can touch, feel, or simply be curious about would have been a great help.
  • Don’t expect to be able to hang something on the wall. It was made of concrete. No straight pins there.
  • I noticed that I tend to like to look busy so that I don’t look idle.

Well that’s what I have down from my notes… I’m sure there will some more stuff come to mind, but that’s down for now.

PDN Thoughts: Communication and Getting Appointments

Today I wrap up a week of sales training focusing on communications and getting appointments. I have had several meetings this week with existing customers and at least one of them has already turned into a great short-term contract for services. Another also opened up opportunities for referrals and a possible strategic alliance, while others simply expressed where I am in my business and life right now, and made some friends aware of the bigger picture of my life.

COMMUNICATIONS

  1. Effective communication only happens when both parties understand their own thoguhts and can express those thoughts in a way that the other party can also understand. A combination of empathy, high self-esteem, confidence, and non-verbal communication give me many avenues to increase the effectiveness of anything I have to communicate.
  2. Listening is a skill that can be developed. It gives me more opportunities to fully understand, while also giving the other party an awareness that I care about what they have to say.

GETTING APPOINTMENTS

  1. Getting appointments with potential new clients is not as scary or complicated as I’d like to make it out to be, if I will only look at it as a system… as a process. There is one step after another to follow, and while I must discover how those steps work for me, my personality, my business, and those I will communicate with, it is no longer something I can just not do because it’s too hard. It will require me to come up with an overall plan and methods of tracking what works and what doesn’t, as well as a determination and awareness that it can be done.
  2. The point in getting appointments is to build the appropriate amount of business to reach my goals. It is not to “grow the business” or to “meet a quota.” Those may be means to those goals, and while growing the business itself is a goal, the primary function of that is to attain more personal levels of satisfaction, fulfillment, and met purpose. This is important to remember during this transition time I am in right now, because while I must be concerned about the upcoming future, I must also not neglect opportunities that are right in front of me.

A FEW GOOD QUOTES:

  • “How well we communicate is determined not by how well we say things, but by how well we are understood.” – Andrew S. Grove, Intel
  • “Successful communication requres feedback that indicates understanding, value recognition, the benefits of taking action now, or the consequenses of not taking action now… Before ideas can be accepted and acted upon, they must be known and understood clearly by the listener.”
  • “Make your goals big enough and exciting enough to stimulate your desire to achieve them.”

QUESTIONS

  1. Just how important are face-to-face meetings, versus phone call appointments, online meetings/presentations, etc.?

GPS: Develop a useful way to manage contacts and leads to develop new customers

Image Goes Here GOAL SUMMARY: A brief description of the goal, why it is being set, and how it fits into my life as a whole goes here. Make sure it’s long enough to make it past the bottom fo the image so the table can fit to the entire width. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pellentesque vel dolor nibh, non eleifend nisl. Fusce ullamcorper, massa ultricies pretium laoreet, elit quam aliquet elit, id fringilla nibh eros vitae mi. Curabitur porta erat sed mauris iaculis bibendum. Suspendisse consequat, ante id interdum eleifend, massa libero tempor ante, a eleifend sapien nisi at odio. Nam adipiscing dapibus velit, eget iaculis justo tempor vitae. Etiam est turpis, varius id accumsan eu, bibendum id dui. Donec laoreet rutrum odio, non laoreet libero condimentum vel. Nunc ornare mauris ac arcu porttitor non hendrerit dui elementum. Phasellus vel nisi a quam rutrum vestibulum. Quisque varius suscipit diam, mollis tincidunt mauris imperdiet in. Maecenas mattis mattis metus, nec posuere ipsum feugiat a.

GOAL:

Develop a useful system to manage contacts that leads to the appropriate number of leads and new customers so as to continually grow and diversify the business, while at the same time maintaining a personal relationship with our clients.

TARGET DATE:

MM/DD/YYYY

TODAY’S DATE:

August 19, 2010

REWARDS:

  • I will be able to find information about my clients quickly, including contact information, personal information, and a history of my work with them.
  • My customers will feel like I “know them.”
  • I will be able to monitor and track the flow of suspects and prospects into customers so as to appropriately add new contacts and seek new leads.

CONSEQUENSES:

  • I will lose track of potential customers.
  • I will not know how much work I need to do to develop the business I need.
  • I will therefore be over- or under-working the sales side of my business, which will lead to too much stress (and focus on new customers) or reduced income (and focus only on existing customers)

AFFIRMATIONS:

  • I work well in an organized environment.
  • Affirmation2

 

POSSIBLE OBSTACLE

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

ACTION STEPS

MUST-DO DATE
DELEGATED TO

SOLUTION

No good contact management package to both manage contact information, contact history, and position in the sales process / funnel.

  1. Paper Rolodex, Outlook, or Online System
  1. Review Online systems. Paper does not work for my mobile environment and Outlook is too limited.
  2. Enter existing client information and all in-process sales leads.
  1. Friday, August 20, 2010
  2. Friday, August 27, 2010
  1. Chose “Big Contacts” at www.bigcontacts.com

 

POSSIBLE OBSTACLE

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

ACTION STEPS

MUST-DO DATE

DELEGATED TO

No “script” or intentional conversational points for phone calls.

  1. Solution1
  2. Solution1
  1. ActionStep1
  2. ActionStep2
  1. MustDoDate1
  2. MustDoDate2
  1. Delegated1
  2. Delegated2

 

POSSIBLE OBSTACLE

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

ACTION STEPS

MUST-DO DATE

DELEGATED TO

Obstacle

  1. Solution1
  2. Solution1
  1. ActionStep1
  2. ActionStep2
  1. MustDoDate1
  2. MustDoDate2
  1. Delegated1
  2. Delegated2