In my former sales organization, there were prospect lists for each salesperson. Pretty standard stuff for sales. One of my colleagues had this particular account, a whale, a $100M opportunity that they had not made much progress with over a period of time. I always thought, to myself of course, that I would love an opportunity to try and sell this account. Not that my colleague was a bad salesperson, on the contrary, they had lots of success with certain types of accounts. This was just not one of them. Much to my surprise at the beginning of a particular year, the company decided to juggle things up a little and change the salesperson assigned to various accounts. I can see why management would want to do something like this, as targets can get a little stale if no meaningful progress has been made to move them to a sale. I can also understand the disdain of a fellow salesperson, who never wants to give up a prospect, because just as they do, something at the account will change, resulting in a sale that they now may miss out on. However rare this is, it does happen.
Having now received the target, I was elated to have the opportunity to finally give this account a crack. I placed a call to my colleague who previously had the account and set up some time for us to talk. In the process, I collected the file and reviewed the CRM notes to familiarize myself with all the players at the business. I looked at their website to review their products, their mission statement, anything that I thought would help me in the selling process. In my head, I started to develop a picture of my proposition and the value I would deliver. I even worked on crafting my entry strategy to get an appointment, something my colleague had been unable to do. I was excited to get this opportunity until I met with my colleague. In that meeting they told me, not to bother with this account, it was dead, and they hated us and would never do business with us. I was devastated, I had such great plans.
I am not sure if you have ever had a scenario play out for you with somewhat similar circumstances. This would not be the last time for me, it happened several more times during my career. So, what was the lesson I took from this?
After I hung up the phone from my conversation with my colleague, I had two choices. I could follow their advice and do nothing because after all the account hated my company. My other option was I could follow through on my plan to go sell it. What is that old saying, nothing ventured, nothing gained?
My sales situation now felt like something I have seen many times at my local airport. You know that person who is checking a bag at the check-in counter that exceeds the 50 lbs. allowance. They are all frustrated when the agent informs them that they have to take something out of their case to lower the weight and avoid the fee. The bag is now on the floor, the person spread above it trying to figure out what weights 3 lbs. They are frantically stuffing the excess items into their hand luggage that is going on the very same airplane. In being given the account, I was given the bag that was overweight, and I had to now determine what to take out to allow myself to proceed. I had to remove the items that did not quite fit. As I sat in my office, I had to throw out the comment about, the prospect hating us and never wanting to do business with us. After all, my colleague had never met the prospect, or had any communication with the business, so how would they know this? As salespeople, we have to take input, but it is a must that we critically evaluate particular circumstances. One person’s opinion should be considered but certainly not sway you. A measured approach with the information you have is always a better solution.
It was far from easy, but not long after writing a formal letter to the CEO of the company, I was granted a meeting. It was a meeting like many I had attended with other prospects. The conference room was large, moderately appointed, typical for a business of their size. I was a little apprehensive as the comments about their dislike for my brand still resonated from my colleague in my head. As the meeting progressed, and we developed a deeper rapport, it became appropriate for me to ask. “So, why is it that you guys don’t like us?” the CEO looked up at me a little bemused, he laughed and spoke. “What, where did you get that idea? He then said, ” We did not realize you guys wanted to do business with us, but we sure are glad you came to see us today.”
Later that day, on my return trip home as I passed through the airport, I saw one of those passengers again with an overweight bag. They looked very frustrated. I was tempted to say to them, get rid of the excess baggage, it will make your trip a whole lot easier.
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 $200 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 the 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 Guide2Interchange@gmail.com