One of my best strategies for the first week on a new job is to invite the top producer out to lunch. A little flattery goes a long way for those who are somewhat egotistical along with paying for the meal at a nice restaurant. The conversation is personal until the check is in the process of being paid. At that point, I ask humbly ask for advice on how I could make quota and potentially hit a bonus. The answers always came forth in return for my being the host of a leisurely afternoon.
“Build in value at the beginning of your first conversation,” was the expert advice I received, the first week of my fourth job. Reviewing how I was perceived by previous clientele, I knew what to do on my first sales call and all those that followed.
And then one day, the Sales Manager asked to go on a sales call with me. As we got into the sales portion of the conversation, I opened with the following: “I just want to forewarn you that of all the vendors available, we are not the least expensive solution; in fact, we are among the most expensive. However, I excel in customer service. You can call me anytime with an issue, and I will scramble to take care of it. If you need a reference on this point, I will provide it.” The statement was followed by the question, “Is price more important for you or is outstanding customer care?”
The moment, I asked the question, I could feel the manager kicking me under the table. Make no mistake, the client saw it. But we continued, and the client responded: “yes, customer service is so rare, I opt for that.” The reason for the disclaimer and the question are that they provide the exact sales buy-ins needed to make the sale at or near list price, building revenue for myself and be closer to making the bonuses. At the same time, I always held my end of the bargain for providing outstanding customer care.
After the meeting had ended and as I was driving the Sales Manager and I back to the office, I was severely reprimanded for the way I conducted the sales conversation. According to him, my grave error was leading the sales meeting entirely backward and the opposite of everyone else. He then declared I needed to begin selling as I was trained to do. Back in the office, he demanded to know if I got his message and that I better begin doing better. It was a threat.
With a smile on my face, my response was, “I’ll be happy to sell just like everyone else if you answer just one question.” The Sales Manager was happy to hear I would change my ways, and so he responded happily with ‘sure!’
I then asked, “If I’m doing everything backward and incorrectly, then please explain why I’m always at the top of the sales scoreboard?” The conversation abruptly ended. I took this as a sign for continuing to sell my way!
All the while I was on 100% commission because women were and still are today paid substantially less than men. I took the responsibility upon myself to earn all I could. Sadly, the Sales Manager complained that I was earning more money than him.
As for the client, she was associated with a Fortune 500 company, and they became a long-term client knowing they could depend on me. At this particular job, I earned many prizes including the coveted President’s Club Trip that included the flight on the CEO’s private jet. The CEO knew how to treat his team and this job proved to be the best I ever had.
Many of my stories are revealed in Nice Girls DO Get the Sale: Relationship Building That Gets Results, Sourcebooks. Due to being a female sales pioneer, and purposely mentoring readers past the hurdles, my book was featured in TIME Magazine, CBS-TV News, translated into multiple languages to become known as an International Best-Seller. You may find it at: http://bit.ly/NiceGirlsDOGettheSale
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