Wednesday, July 2, 2008

More Sales Lessons from the School of Hard Knocks

Recently, Jill Konrath of Selling to Big Companies talked about her three biggest sales lessons gleaned from her early days in the School of Hard Knocks. Yesterday we posted her first lesson when she learned how to overcome the fear to make her first cold calls. Today we bring you a lesson she learned from:

The Screaming Assistant

One of the prospects I uncovered while cold-calling was Trussbilt and my main contact was Tinsey, a very articulate woman who told me she was in charge of the copier decision. Shortly after our first meeting, I read a book that said salespeople should only work with the top dogs - not their underlings.

Since my contact was an administrative assistant, I realized I needed to rectify the situation immediately. I called Mr. Big directly and set up a time to meet. Then I prepared like crazy to ensure I did a great job.

Unfortunately, I never had a chance to capitalize on this opportunity. Tinsey came to the lobby to escort her boss' visitor to his office. When she saw me, she demanded to know why I was there.

"I'm here to see Mr. Big," I replied, suddenly not so sure if the tactic I'd taken was appropriate. I was right. She proceeded to yell at me like I've never been yelled at before.

I was appalled. Mortified. And suddenly very light-headed and shaky. I fainted dead away right there in the middle of the lobby.

As you can imagine, I never did business with Tinsey or Trussbilt. But I sure did learn that once you're working with someone it's never appropriate to go around them without their knowledge. They'll get mad. Furious. It's a normal human reaction.

Today, to ensure my ability to work with whomever I want in an account, I always tell prospects, "Usually when I'm working with clients, I need to talk with the VP of Sales, Regional Sales Directors and sometimes even Marketing." Doing it this way prevents the people problems that can derail your sales efforts.

Join us tomorrow for Lesson #3: how to cut the crap.

Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies, helps sellers crack into corporate accounts, shorten sales cycles and win big contracts. She is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events. Learn more at http://www.sellingtobigcompanies.com/

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