Once upon a time, I went to visit one of my top accounts in Houston, TX. While sitting in his lobby waiting to see him. He storms out the door bellowing, about how sick and tired he was that his residence and the guest were damaging his property entry gates.
Now, me being the on point sales professional I am, I said, “Can I ask you a question?” “What would it be worth to you, if I could help you track the folks who were damaging your gates?” He looked at me and said, “Sam, if you can do that, man I believe I could give you a lot more of my business”.
Now that’s music to a salesman’s ears, right? I phoned my boss and explained the situation and the potential business we might get if he’d only approve me getting some IP Cameras and equipment.
He approved, I phoned my client, and I told him I’d be back in a week and could he have all the stakeholders in the conference room.
I meet with not only my client but his boss, head of property security and the IT Director. In total, 23 people were in the meeting. Being an ATM toastmaster at the time, I explained to them why we were all here, and what we wanted to accomplish.
I opened the presentation sharing with them a lot about how I came to work with their boss and how over time we’ve solved a lot of problems for his organization. I explained my company and our ability to install and manage every step in the process from planning to installation and concluding the closeout to track their satisfaction.
I was asked a lot of questions, some technical, more about how this solution would benefit the communities and build a sense of safety amongst their residents.
A few days later we begin the install, it took us a couple of days to complete the install. I called my project assistant who was sitting in my client’s office, and asked him if they were ready? “Ok, let’s light the candle”. They were able to see the property and me standing at the gate in real time.
A couple of weeks I called him and asked him how was it working out. He informed me that they were able to capture three incidents, that resulted in more than $15,000 in damages to his properties.
A week after that I get a fax asking me to quote and additional 10 properties. All total we sold into 26 of his communities. At years end, I sold, $1.6 million in cameras and equipment.
The “Twilight Zone”
Fast forward to a few weeks ago I applied for a position that I learned was open from a sales rep at the company we bought our cameras from. Sam, “its a slam dump”, you know our equipment, you understand the vertical and you’re connected with the clients we want to capture
Friday I got an email from the company, “Although, we are impressed with your background and sales experience; we don’t think at this time you are a good fit for this position”. “We will keep your resume on file and should a position we feel better suits you, we will be in touch. Thank you for applying at.”
Dada, the Twilight Zone! To add to that, I get a call from the owner of another company I applied to, “Sam, I know I didn’t hire you, but I’ve been following you on LinkedIn and you have a lot of knowledge, do you mind sharing with the guy we hired?” I spent 45 MINUTES sharing what I believe would help him in his role. At the end of the call he said, “Man, I should be working for you.”
I write all this to say one simple thing, we need to help each other when we can. Our customers should trust us to solve problems, find solutions. As Gerry Layo says, “It takes guts, intelligence, persistence, faith, commitment, attitude, skills, and action to do what we do every day.” Being a former infantry officer I have been taught to be results driven. Don’t leave anyone behind. So many salespeople need help, they’re so busy trying to sell that they’re not investing in their skills. This hurts them professionally and their companies growth.
I recently reached out to my former client in Houston and told him I was applying for a position at the camera company I sold to him, but I was wondering, “why did you buy from me?” He paused on the call and said; “Sam it’s simple, you never tried to sell me anything. You allowed me to buy. You earned my trust, you tried to fix a problem that was costing me thousands of dollars.
That’s the key, it wasn’t about the cameras it was about me solving his problem. Putting myself in his shoes. To take him out of the Twilight Zone.
As Anthony Iannarino says in his book “The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need” 1. Be a student of people, 2. Imagine yourself in the customer’s position, 3. Listen to and accept the customer’s interpretation, 4. Make caring an action, 5. Remember the little things.