Any sales professional knows that there is a great deal of skill and talent needed to be successful. Prospecting, getting the appointment, uncovering need, identifying the solution, and closing the deal are steps in a process that can be both frustrating and rewarding. Often times the most difficult part of the process is getting the appointment. Whether you specialize in inside or outside sales, the challenge of gaining access to decision makers is the same. So, what do you do when you get turned down on the initial attempt? Get creative!
In a previous sales role I held, I had a prospect that represented a fairly large opportunity. I would reach out often and nurture the lead to keep my name in front of the CEO. I would use multiple forms of communication spread out over a few weeks. First, the phone call. Then an email. Back to a phone call. Then a targeted article involving their company or industry. Nothing that usually garnered success was working.
One day, I called and the CEO was, once again, unavailable. He had flown to Boston to catch a Yankees vs. Red Sox game at Fenway Park. My first thought was, ”That is something I would like to do some day!” It turned out that he was a huge Boston Red Sox fan. I learned through a brief chat with his executive assistant that he would fly out to Boston from the Bay Area in California a couple of times a season to catch big games at Fenway. I also learned that he had a signed baseball from Jason Varitek, the catcher and team captain at the time. That ball held a prominent place in a trophy stand in his office. In that moment, “lightning had struck my brain” (name the movie).
I went to a sporting goods store and bought a brand new baseball and a single baseball display stand. I signed the baseball, placed it in the stand and wrote a personal note to the CEO. The note simply said that the ball with my signature would be of far more value to his company than the one signed by Jason Varitek. I then drove over to his office and gave the package to his assistant. I told her it was an autographed baseball and that a huge Boston fan like him was sure to appreciate it.
I got a call from him two days later asking me to come visit with him for an hour. The first 15 minutes was baseball. The final 45 was discovering his need for my solutions and setting a game plan for a presentation and proposal. We closed a fairly large deal within a few weeks and, to my knowledge, my baseball sits by Varitek’s to this day.
The baseball got the appointment… and the deal!
Brian McFadyen is a Professional Services Account Executive at XANT. With a rich background in all things sales – Brian works to encourage all clients to become certified in the XANT products to ensure maximum productivity.
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