I gasp in front of the squeaky clean mirror, making sure my blouse is tucked into my pants and throw an Altoid into my mouth. Finally I make it into that icy looking conference room down the hall. This is my chance; I can not ruin it with one misstep. Here we go again:
When it comes to sales, there is not a limit of tools at your disposal, and that is most definitely true when you are selling something intangible.
That moment I was just describing, a few years back , was the scene before my meeting with a huge shoe distributor, that was all real, the only thing that I can’t describe in words is the level of excitement I was reaching. Only in my shoes do you know the days, weeks, and months of follow up that it requires to reach what for me is this major step. Still, I know in myself that I am more than prepared when it comes to research. I’m not a social media or search engine addict, but I know good possibilities when I see them and I use them to my advantage. I mean, trust me, there’s a lot about shoes that I’m already familiar with but there is always more to learn. I don’t expect them to quiz me on my footwear knowledge, but I do expect one major question to be shot at me – why do you think you can give us the best service?
My mind wanders to the moment I found this company, at my desk googling (might as well be a verb by now) I can’t even remember what exactly it was. Among an enormous pool of corporations, this particular one stood out. Why? The commodity is one (what girl doesn’t love shoes?), and their development and shipment history also stood out. All these ingredients gave me confidence that I had chosen the right lead for me and my company. I know that the value that I give this lead is high making for a great recipe. Not only will I portray the image of the sales person they need but I will embody it. From there I go straight to Facebook and most importantly LinkedIn (my go-to sources) to see who it is I need to communicate and network with and how best to make my approach.
As I impatiently wait at the eternally long table in that fridge of a room for the CEO and CFO of the company I so desperately want to work with, I catch a few glimpses of name brands. You see, I know most of those names, and I know that to these strangers I am another logistics company trying to sell them my rates. Little do they know, this is where I am ahead, because I know that the rates are not as important here. These guys must have met with numerous companies with the same “competitive rates.” Oh and looks and age, I threw that far from my mind a long time ago. Of course you want to look presentable, but you need to be opportunistic. I know that in the time I am in that meeting, I need to prove just how much I value that company, especially since I have been following up closely with them for a while and it takes a lot to get to this point. Keeping last minute details into mind might somehow affect this prospect and make a bold difference. For instance Take the East Coast port strike recently causing a stir. Informing prospects of the outcome of what charges carriers will apply, which port congestion surcharges will come into effect etc is often appreciated. Thankfully, the strike is postponed 90 days, allowing us to take a small breath.
One thing is for sure, luck is not a team player in this room. The prior months of absorbing in their company overview, studying corporate structure, noting affiliating parent or sister companies, keeping up with their corporate overall growth strategy etc has led to this. Social media tools come in handy, this also piles up with the research. Take Linkedin for instance, it helps manage and engage directly with the right people, aids in developing and researching who it is I am about to be face to face with.
Everyone gets up, thankful handshakes all around. Seconds after sitting back down, I feel a friendly tap on my shoulder “You did a good job kiddo! Very good presentation”. After all those tough questions I can’t believe the CEO just did that. Finally I know I made the right impression on this huge-shoe distributor. In the world of sales, this affirmation and sense of accomplishment does not surpass any other type of emotion. Needless to say, my agent and I walk out feeling that our mission was accomplished.