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35 Floors in 45 Seconds

It had been months since any progress had been made with this particular prospect. I used to struggle a little as to whether I was ahead of the market readiness for my product or if, in fact, I was not doing such a great job getting business through my pipeline. In this case, the Insurance industry was complex, and mergers and acquisitions created multiple billing systems of the legacy variety, slowing the advancement of payment solutions for policyholders. So, when my prospect called and said they were ready to meet, to say the least, it piqued my curiosity.

Previous meetings with this prospect were, shall we say, “frosty.” The folks on the other side of the table, for some reason, were not so receptive to salespeople, and it was one of the few times in my career that no matter what I seemed to do, I would get a tongue-lashing from the prospect. I dutifully prepared for the call, making sure I had all my ducks in a row. One thing I always liked to do was to review the company’s leadership and other relevant facts to be conversational. Like so many other sales calls, I had to travel to meet prospects, which meant most of the time connecting flights to get to a destination. The prospect was in a large city but not one with many direct flights. As I was about to board the second flight, my phone rang, and the familiar voice of the assistant to the Vice President I was meeting spoke on the other end of the phone. “I am sorry Mr. McNamara we need to reschedule the meeting today.”

The human brain is an amazing instrument, and it is unbelievable how quickly it can process and react. For a salesperson, I think there is even a more heightened sense of reality that kicks. Turns out the Vice President I was going to see had been dismissed from their role the day before, for shall we say, not being so nice to their staff. Glad I was not the only one to experience it. In that nanosecond, I had to think. I told the assistant that I had already landed and was on the way to their offices. Not entirely true. I had landed, and I was on my way to their offices. I was just 400 miles further away than she now believed. “Ok, Let me see what I can do,” she said. After a brief hold she indicated that the senior vice president (SVP) would now take the meeting.

The meeting with the SVP went well. Turns out my contact had not shared with their organization any of the information, data, or benefits our services would provide. They would need to get back to me. As I left the meeting, I had to take the elevator down to ground level from the 25th floor. Soon, I would be on my way home and reporting to my leadership on the progress of the day. In my haste, I thought I had selected the lobby button, the doors to the elevator closed, and to my surprise, it started up, not down. After a few seconds, the familiar ding most elevators emit sounded as the doors opened on the 35th floor. A tall, fair-haired man stepped forward. What looked like his assistant was pushing some papers into his hand telling him the time of his next appointment. As he looked up and entered, I instantly reached out my hand, greeted him by his name, and introduced myself. For the second time that day, the brain had kicked in to help me out. I was in the elevator with the CEO.

It is incredible what can be said and shared in a minute or less. During that time, I was able to introduce myself, tell this person why I was there, who I had met, what the purpose of the meeting was, and how it could benefit the organization's policyholders. He shared that he had just played golf with our CFO last week at a charity event and that he would follow up with the SVP I had met to get a briefing. We even had time to joke a little about each of our golf games before the elevator opened in the lobby. As he exited the elevator, he told me to let him know if there was anything he could do.

As salespeople, we must always be ready. We never know the time or place where an opportunity will arise that can help our sales process. This chance encounter was just that, a chance. Being able to succinctly articulate your purpose and value in a very short space of time while making an impression is the Art form of sales. When you get the opportunity for that so-called elevator pitch, seize it because 35 floors will be gone in 45 Seconds.


Roger McNamara Bio:

Roger is a 25+-year veteran of the Payments Industry, most recently as the Director of Business Development with American Express in the US. He has worked on the largest Acquisition targets for acceptance across multiple industries and across the globe that include Airlines, Communications, Technology, Cruise Lines, Entertainment, Fractional Jet, Freight, Government, Healthcare, Insurance, Oil & Gas, Residential Rent, Restaurants, QSR’s, Retail, Services, Supermarkets, Travel, Vehicle Sales, B2B and Wholesale. Over that time, he has sold more than $300 Billion worth of Card processing and became an expert in Bankcard Interchange and Discount Rates, how they are calculated and what merchants pay to accept Credit, and how this is dramatically different from what they believe they pay. He is an expert in Merchant Statement analysis and payment processing and the rules and regulations associated with payments and associations. Roger has also developed the insight for Merchant Services Salesforces and salesforces, in general, to be able to better position their products and gain share, particularly in B2B. Let him show you how you can too. He can be reached at


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