Alec Baldwin recited that hard reality in the terrific film adaptation of the play, “Glengarry Glen Ross.” The line symbolizes the high-pressure life of a Sales professional. There’s really no way to understand the pressure of being in Sales except by actually trying to sell someone something. Sure, we all “sell” everyday as we try to influence, motivate or just try to get people to “buy” us, but it’s not the same as saying, “can we have the order?” Today I got a little taste of the pressure during a meeting case-study I attended in Dallas. Our “Sales” team had to put together a solution of our products and services and sell it to the rest of the class. Yesterday was the easy part. We figured out what the right components were and how they would best ease the customer’s business pains. Today we had to close the deal. As we met to decide how we would approach the close, I really felt emboldened that I knew what the approach should be, so I put my ideas out there and surprisingly, the team of strong-willed semi-sales types agreed. We crafted 3 simple PowerPoint slides to illustrate our offer, our commitment to the customer as a true business partner, and finally a screenful of highly recognizable corporate logos that are happy and loyal customers. “So who’s going to present this? Someone asked. I sank down in my chair hoping to become suddenly invisible. “Well, I think Jim did a good job on the offer. He should present.” Whew… Then someone said, “I thing Leo should close with all that partnership stuff.” “Uh, well…um, I’m not really…” The group all approved and suddenly I wasn’t stealth. I was “it.”
My heart was “banging like Charlie Watts,” to quote a John Hiatt song as Jim wrapped up the financial details. The name of the fictional company was, “We Build. U-Buy.” I opened by thanking everyone for all their hard work in the process and then looked at the customer lead and said, “now is when we hope we’ve reached the point where “We Build. U-Buy.” As I said “we” I pointed to myself with both hands, almost like holding my hands to my heart, then extended my hands toward the customer as I softly said, “U-Buy.” “But…what are we asking you to buy? We hope that over the past months we have built a strong, trusting relationship with you and your team. That partnership is what we’re asking you to buy.” I went around the room and spoke of how we worked with George, their IT VP to understand their infrastructure and ensure optimal performance. I walked over to Ken, their “tough” Union chief and explained how we worked with him on a change management plan to help gain the acceptance of his union employees. I looked back at Pam, the primary customer and I knew I had nailed it. I then spoke about the sales process and acknowledged our firm was not the only one in the running. “I’m sure you’ve seen lots of flash and sizzle, and a lot of cool bells and whistles. But the sizzle fades and then what do you have? With us, you have a long term partner who will be with you over the long-term.” I then walked through a slide on our support offerings that span the entire lifecycle of the product. “This level of support is what protects the significant investment we’re asking you to make today.” The finals slide appeared on the screen with a killer quote from a major customer and many logos of our loyal customers. “I’m asking you to join us. Join the Kronos family of customers like the ones you see on the screen right now. Are there any questions?” Not being a Sales professional, of course I forgot to actually ask for the order, so Jim jumped back in and did. “Yes.” What a rush.