In the 90’s I lost my first wife to a brain injury and as a result, my world was turned up side down. I had 2 kids to finish raising by myself and no way to continue with my adventuresome, entrepreneurial lifestyle. So for a while, I did the best I could and I left the sales domain..
For my whole lifetime, I had wanted to be a full-time minister. I was trained for it. Nothing was holding me back. Why not now? Why not indeed?
God opened a door in a wonderful Quaker church in Tennessee & they helped me take care of my children and rebuild my life. I went there to minister to them. But they ministered to me, just as much.
So what does this have to do with sales?… That’s just the start of the story. After 6 years getting my wits back together and my kids nurtured; I decided I needed to try to re-emerge in business. So, I was very excited when a door opened with a large international furniture & cabinet hardware company. The largest competitor for the company I had been with for 12 years, previously in my life. Having produced double-digit sales growth every year for their competitor; It seemed like a possible fit for them and for me. So, like a dog pouncing after a ball; I went for it, with gusto.
What ensued was a very extensive evaluation and communication process. And each step of progress was in itself a selling situation. So after a seemingly endless barrage of letters and phone interviews; a meeting was scheduled with product management, division management, human resources and the company President in Atlanta. I knew this was a make or break interview. I also knew that the biggest selling job with this company initially was to get on board. I knew my game in their industry & how to bring them business. So I just had to devise a way, to communicate this to them in the interviews.
I prepared thorough and comprehensive resumes, documentation of my selling skills, examples of my style and an impressive portfolio of personal selling accomplishments and professional experiences. So, I did my homework. I knew I was ready, when the day arrived. [Yes, this is a plug for comprehensive preparation, prior to the actual sale].
I already knew from the interview process that there were literally hundreds of applicants. I also knew that the field had been narrowed to 5 industry sales leaders, of which I was one. After my first day of intense interviews with everyone but the President; I knew that interview would be make it or break it, do or die.
At a bar in Atlanta (I no longer drink), I ordered a Guinness and was fascinated with the ping-pong ball that they put in the can to make it pour like an actual draft beer. I tore the can apart and investigated this phenomenon that was new to me. Now, I knew I had my answer about how to stand out, when I had my interview with the Company President.
The next day when I met with Mr. Burks, I immediately noticed his desk littered with the resumes of the other applicants. As we talked, I continually played with something in my fingers (making sure he noticed). At a certain part of the interview, I literally pulled the ping-pong ball out of my pocket and rolled it on the table as we talked. He knew I was up to something and with insatiable curiosity and a wry grin said OK, you’ve succeeded, I will ask; “Why have you played with a ping-pong ball during our whole interview?” With a grin equal to his own, I said: “I thought you would never ask.”
I proceeded to explain to him how the ball actually belonged in a Guinness beer can. I explained to him how it worked to increase the value of the product and its sales appeal. I then asked him to imagine if he could for a moment, the profits being generated by the company or individual, who thought up the ping-pong ball for the beer can. I went on to explain that if he procured my services, that was what I would do for his company. Namely, find never before imagined applications and markets for his product. Discover and develop new sales avenues to increase his companies profits. Thus, I urged him to think about the importance of the originality of the ping-pong ball in the Guinness can. Especially, when he thought about my prospective service and potential value to his company, because that is what I would do for him. And then as I left the meeting, I left the ball on his desk on top of the stack of competitive resumes.
Yes, you guessed it. I landed the position. Creativity & colorfulness in the sales presentation can set you apart from the other guy or gal. Especially, when it is well-aimed and relevant.
Not only do making sales with pride and passion increase the dollars in your pocket, they pay you lasting benefits. Its like making a hole in one on the golfing course, the joy & satisfaction last long after the day is past. How can you be more inventive and original in your sales process? That’s a Good question to ask yourself, every day!
PUT PASSION IN YOUR SALES GAME!