As a relatively ‘green’ salesperson back in the 1980’s I found out, pretty early on in my chosen career that it’s not particularly what you have that’s important, it’s more like how you relate.
‘What’s new?’ I hear you say.
OK, here’s how I woke up …
It was while spending time on the road, calling on clients, cold calling prospects that I had my first really good break. My routine in those days was leaving the house, hitting commuter traffic and travelling the 10 miles or so to the manufacturing plant, my office. I’d spend a little time there before ‘hitting the road’ again, engaging people, knocking on doors, prospecting for business.
There was no internet to help us in 1984, the in-car telephone wasn’t yet with us. My job was to deliver the benefits of my business, in person. Like anyone else in sales during that time we were expected to be well-versed, resourceful, agile and always available for the opportunity. Pre-technology the job was heavily reliant on the ability to engage, developing the people skills not found in any on-line course or wikipedia research.
This particular morning at the office I’d received a telephone (land-line) call from Neil.
‘We’d like to speak with you, can we set up an appointment?’ It just so happened the ‘prospect’ was halfway betwixt my home and the office, so we agreed that I call-in for a meeting, next day during the course of my regular commute.
‘That’s fine, can you get here for 7 am?’
Next day I arrived well before 7 am., parked up, made my way to reception to be met by a fellow with an outstretched hand and a smile … Neil.
‘Like a coffee? Follow me.’
My new friend proceeded to inform me exactly what he was looking for. He outlined how his company wished to be served and at what price levels, when he expected to see us, what he expected of me as his trusted supplier …
After all, I’d been ‘highly recommended.’
So began nine years of regular visits to this particular client. Through regular contact Neil and his company became the ‘mainstay’ of our own business. Morning and evening, twice per day. Coffee in the morning, tea in the evening. I was treated like one of the salaried workers, a regular fixture, all the time developing our ‘people skills.’ I had become a familiar face with each of the employees, we each knew the unspoken value of working closely together, developing the relationships. Business was good.
It wasn’t until several months had gone by, I was out doing my ‘regular rounds,’ calling on my regular clients, the people, the prospects for new business when one of those prospects invited me to tell them just a little more about the business …
‘Good to see you again.’ he said.
‘How can you add value?’
We spent a little time discussing ‘the trade,’ trends, other people and a little while later we started doing business. Then, one day he asked …
‘By the way Charlie, did you ever catch up with Neil?
Networking works, persistence pays off, people buy from reliable people.