The Printer in my virtual office was working overtime spitting out the multiple copies of the presentation for the next day’s meeting. It had been a long time in the making, years in fact of strong no’s and unanswered calls. The prospect had resisted our products and services for what seemed like an eternity and now at last I was going to get to meet the prospect. Not just any meeting I was getting the whole kit and kaboodle, CFO, Senior Vice President of Operations, Senior Vice President of Marketing, and others would be present for the hour. I was making sure that I had enough copies of the presentation, all 44 pages of it. I was not going to miss a trick. Now all I needed was for the printer to run out of ink and I would be really screwed.
As I touched down at the airport in the Prospects city, I was confident that I was on my game. I had rehearsed in my brain every page in the deck, every page transition, every fact and number. I could sense the objections that might come my way, I was ready for battle. The settings for these sales calls is very similar throughout the country. With an audience of Senior Executives, we would be in a large conference room. I was led upstairs after I had time to thoroughly scan the various plaques and awards in the company display case in reception. I was picking up a few more clues, just like every good salesperson does on the inner workings of the organization they are visiting. The slow meandering walk to the conference room was filled with breaking the ice chatter that probably commented upon the glorious weather that part of the country was expierinceing…….in February.
The Sales call began like many before, there were introductions and pleasantries, and a little bit of banter from me to soften up the room. At the head of the table was the key decision maker, the Chief Financial Officer. He was surrounded in descending order by those that reported to him. This CFO was a tall man, a rather imposing figure where the room clearly respected him and deferred to him on all matters. I sensed this and as I was taught, I made sure to direct a lot of the presentation to him directly with gestures and eye contact. At about Page 12 of the presentation I noticed that the CFO started to nod off, this despite the obvious coffee stains on his company issued golf shirt. His caffeine consumption had fallen victim to the half of a dead tree that camouflaged itself as a sales presentation that lay in front of him.