“If I get up at 4:30 I can be there by 6:30. That should be early enough.”
“Are you crazy! You’re not doing this.”
“I have to. I said I’d get it done. I can’t let everyone down.”
That was my self talk many years ago as our sales quarter was coming to a close. I’d committed to landing a significant piece of business, and the deal was 99.99% done.
Competitors eliminated - check.
Pricing agreed to - check.
Terms and conditions negotiated - check.
The only hurdle left was a series of signatures. But the CIO of this billion dollar company had quit returning my calls.
SHALL I STALK?
The question I was debating with myself was whether I should chase this guy down in his parking lot the next morning and ask him to finish the deal.
These thoughts were way, way, way out of character for me. I hate high pressure sales. I hate sales gamesmanship. I hate begging.
So why was I even thinking about this?
You might think greed, but my pay was going to be the same whether I closed the deal today or two weeks from today. And I wasn't worried the competition had snuck back in and was stealing the deal. I had friendlies inside the organization that assured me the business was ours.
The only sensible explanation for the CIO giving me the silent treatment was workload. These folks were buried in some major projects. And lots of vendors were offering them great end of quarter deals. Savings of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But we weren’t big at playing those kinds of games. Our price was good today and it would still be good in two weeks. So our deal had probably sunk to the bottom of the priority pile.
And it was my job to get it back on top.
But did I really want to chase the guy down in a parking lot?
Actually, this wasn't the first time I’d considered a move like this. At a prior employer where I was a cultural misFIT I’d been essentially ordered to do something similar. And I’d told the orderer to pound sand. There was 0% chance I was going to put myself out there for a company I hated.
But here I was, months later, considering the exact same act. And no one was ordering me to do it. No one even knew I was thinking about it.
Last time I wrote about how critical it was to hire sales reps that FIT your culture. And I promised that this week I’d relate this advice to my Maps.
So let’s take a look at my SELF Map to see how I got here.
The most important sections for today are WHY and ME.
In prior posts I've shared with you details about my personality. The fact that I cover for my personal insecurities by acquiring knowledge. By trying to be the smart guy. This isn't a preference for me, it's a requirement in order to function.
It anchors my WHY - to learn and share. And two parts of my ME - KNOW and DISTILL.
This means, in order to do my best work, I need to dive extra deep on a topic. I have to overstudy - KNOW. I have to boil things down to their simplest components - DISTILL. Regardless of whether I’ll ever need this depth to do my job, I need to go through this process.
Realizing this, let’s take a look at my misFIT experience. Where I refused to stalk a customer. Where my bosses boss was a hard core high pressure transaction kind of guy who saw zero need for product knowledge.
To be fair, his approach is pretty common in businesses that sell technical products. The salespersons job is to get the door open, hand things off to the techies, then swoop back in for the close.
But, given my WHY and my ME, it’s obvious that this low product knowledge sales culture could NEVER work for me.
It left me out of alignment. Which means no self trust. No confidence. No connectability. No sales.
So I sucked at my job. And there was no way in hell I’d chase someone down in a parking lot to help this company.
Compare this to my attitude at my next employer, where I was a cultural FIT.
Here the model was all about knowing the product. Sales people were required to do hands on demonstrations in front of rooms full of techies. And had to handle first level technical Q & A.
I spent my weekends reading manuals and learning object oriented programming basics. I was ga ga over words like polymorphism and encapsulation, and I’m not kidding - I really was. This deep learning energized me.
I was aligned, self trusting, secure, confident, and a connection machine. I was lit up like a Christmas tree and I sold and managed my ass off.
Same person. Almost identical objectives. Almost identical markets. Almost identical timeframe. Night and day difference in performance.
Cultural FIT matters - even in outside sales!
DID I STALK THE GUY?
Yes, I did.
It was the first and only time in my career, but I did it. I sat in my car sweating for an hour or so until I saw him drive up, and then I took off across the parking lot.
I hated every second of it - until we spoke.
Once he got over the initial surprise, he was as nice as could be. He apologized for being too busy to return my calls, and promised to get the paperwork done that day.
And he kept that commitment. Which means I was able to keep my commitment to the people and company that I cared so much about.
And I don’t think any quote sums up this experience as well as this one from author Simon Sinek…
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
Sincere salespeople, folks that FIT the company WHY and the company culture, are worth their weight in gold. Customers can sense that alignment. And they’ll go out of their way to reward it.
So create a culture that reflects you, the business owner. Then demand that all employees, including sales reps, FIT that culture. You’ll love the results.
That’s all for today. Join me next time when I share a few thoughts on sales basics.
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