Success in sales isn’t easy, so it’s important to celebrate the big wins--and draw inspiration from past success when times get tough. Here are two sales success stories we know you’ll love.
Gentle Persistence Pays Off
You might have heard about “The Rule of Seven,” which says that a salesperson must “touch” prospects at least seven times within 18 months in order to make a sale.
Well, what about once a week, every week for two years?
That’s what one sales manager for an international staffing firm had to do to land a multi-million dollar deal.
The client operated several locations in Southern California and needed hundreds of temporary employees every week. The company required flexibility in its staffing--using many more workers during peak season-- as well as “on-site management,” in the form of a full-time recruiter at the company’s warehouse recruiting and managing the temporary workers.
Once a staffing company has an on-site management arrangement, it’s extremely difficult for another staffing firm to win away the business.
But the sales manager was determined. She got a meeting with the decision maker, but he told her that he was happy with his current vendor. Undeterred, she continued to follow up with him regularly. He took her calls – for a while – but finally told her he didn’t see the need to talk to her anymore.
But she still called.
She had his direct line and, out of respect for his request, she never called him during working hours. She only called when she knew he wasn’t in the office (late at night).
She called once a week, every week, for almost two years. At first she left him messages about her company’s on-site programs, reviews from other clients, news about her company.
But she soon ran out of business topics to talk about so she started telling him about how much she loved her work, how she would never leave it. Then she started talking about her family’s exploits, and so on.
At first the prospect was annoyed at her calls. After a few months, he became angry – she’s not stopping! Then he became intrigued: “How long will she keep this up?” She missed calls a few times when she was on vacation and he noticed that he actually missed her calls.
After about two years, he began having problems with his current vendor, and he called her.
“We need to talk. I figure, anyone who is as quietly, but professionally persistent as you bodes well for how you’re going to take care of my needs.”
They met again, and she got the multi-million dollar deal.
Creativity and Risk Taking Pay Off
A salesperson was going for a six-figure IT installation project for a prospect’s new location.
She was able to meet with the plant’s operating manager, who, as the sole decision maker, was being courted by at least a dozen other vendors eager to win the deal.
As the salesperson and her potential customer toured the new plant, the manager mentioned that given the demands of her new job--plus having just moved to the area--she was struggling to find the time to set up her family’s new household. She mentioned she had to get a new iron because she’d left her other one back home.
The salesperson put together a proposal, went to Target to buy an iron, and hand-delivered the proposal as well as the iron with a note attached: “Hoping we’ll have the chance to iron out your IT installation problems.”
The operations manager called and said “I normally don’t accept gifts because they come across as bribes. Normally it would have put you out of the running. But you actually heard me, heard my stress, not only about getting the plant up and running, but about something as minor as my ironing. That tells me a) you listen, and b) details matter to you.”
In this case, the salesperson’s creativity, thoughtfulness--plus a willingness to take a calculated risk--paid off and she won the deal.
Success stories like these are powerful, inspiring and often, educational. They encourage us to keep pushing forward. As you have success stories of your own, write them down and refer back to them when you need a little encouragement. And send them to us! We would love to include your story in a future post so you can be the inspiration to others.
When it comes to knowing your prospects, you really need to know your prospect: his career history, her company’s challenges, etc. At Boardroom Insiders, we follow breaking news on more than 10,000 enterprise CXOs in our database. As a subscriber, you can be informed of major announcements and executive changes across the Fortune 500 almost as they happen. Take a look at our sample profiles to see what we mean.