11 years in the business and still making cold calls. I always wonder what is going through the minds of the people I speak with…even my clients. “Oh, no…it’s him again.” “Didn’t he try to call me 6 months ago?” “I thought if we would order a few things, maybe he would stop calling.”
Well, ok. I’m sure it’s not always that bad. But it is a difficult place to be; knowing you are providing a service that is an industry standard wherein there are only a couple major players of which you are one of them. I mean, doesn’t it just make sense that everyone would want to see your offer to be sure that they are getting the best possible value for their money? Isn’t that just good business?
I admit that after a certain number of years doing this I still have this thought cross my mind. I mean; it’s logical…isn’t it? Almost everyone needs what we do so why wouldn’t they want to see all the possibilities and make the best decision for their business?
‘Yet now I see’, or at least I think I do. It is clear I work in field where the true professionals have stronger bonds and relationships with their foes as much as their partners and trusting one another is as much a part of the negotiation as price and quality. There is a general feeling that despite our differences of opinion we are all working towards a similar goal and that is a world where the ideas of people can be protected and valued so those clever enough to come up with them can profit from their talents.
This bond of trust applies as much with the service providers as it does among the many firms we count as clients. There is a rite of passage that must be paid before you can convince someone to put his or her good name on a report created by your company; even if that company already has a good reputation. They must believe you are giving them the best advice on the products they will use.
You see it at the many conferences and just about any other place where we gather. Why else would we have so many events where the socializing is just as important as the sessions themselves? We meet over drinks, over lunch, in an exhibition or even in the cities while shopping looking at each other’s name cards to see if we should be introducing ourselves. When we start a conversation it seldom starts on business, but is more like speed-dating as we become acquainted and learn about the person we have just met.
Like in any business we are all individuals. Some of us are really looking for the best deals while others want to stick with what they know and trust, even if it might cost them a bit more. Some are loyal to the status quo even without specific reasons and there are those who want to work with something else just to be different. One person takes the meeting just to be polite and another turns it down only to order something a few weeks later.
One thing I’ve learned through this is diligence and persistence. If you remain true to your message and if you believe if what you are offering it will eventually become evident to those you come in contact with. It still doesn’t guarantee the sale, but at least they will believe you might be offering something good and they will be curious to see it. They will learn to trust you because they have come to know you. They will begin to trust your company because the person they know in you is loyal to that company and its products.
Let’s face it; we work in a small world. 8,000 people show up at a singe conference, yet we know all the people we really plan on working with. There are the occasional surprises, but somehow we have become an extended family interested in who recently got married, had a baby, was divorced or just retired. When one of our icons passes the whole industry takes notice and pays their respects.
When you love your work and happen to be in such a community you should take a moment to appreciate it. Oh, and when that sales call comes in and it is from me, feel free to take it. I might just be curious how your kid’s soccer game went.
To sum up, sales is quite an interesting prospect if you want to look at it from a business perspective and those who have tried it have come out with flying colors due to a sales tracking software to boost your sales rate that has made wonders in the business world.