alt text image of a camel

Getting the Camel’s Nose Under the Tent

A long, long time ago, I attended my first real sales training. The company I worked for brought 50 salespeople together for training. At one point in the day, the focus shifted to asking for an order–a single order. But I didn’t have it in me to ask for a single order. I wanted all of the business, role play or not.

I was called out of the room and gently reprimanded for not following directions. The regional manager told me that it was okay that I pushed for all of the business, but that some salespeople were uncomfortable asking for a single order, and I was making them even more uncomfortable.

It wasn’t until much later I understood their strategy, and it is an effective and useful tool to have in your arsenal. The strategy was to get the camel’s nose under the tent, and then work on getting the rest of the camel over time.

Asking for a single order is a very small, easily obtained commitment. It isn’t a massive change. No one has to fire their present provider. Your client doesn’t have to get a committee together to make a decision.

Once you have and fill an order, regardless of how small, you are no longer a salesperson. You are now a supplier, a vendor, and a potential partner. You have access to the individuals you are helping within your client account. You are in their systems. You can follow up on the small bit of work you are doing. This access gives you the opportunity to build trust, build relationships, and build future business. You do a good job, you ask for another order.

You need a long term strategy to win your dream clients. But there is something to be said for gaining small commitments that open future opportunities, as long as you work like the devil to create value, earn the right to compete, and eventually establish yourself as your dream client’s partner.


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