When I received my first real job in sales, I was already selling when I was scheduled to attend sales training. I remember driving to the corporate office in Orange County, California, I remember the building, and I remember the giant u-shaped conference table. I was sitting in the last seat with about fifty salespeople from across the region.
But I remember little else about the meeting, except one thing: being pulled out of the meeting and gently reprimanded.
Too Little To Make A Difference
During the training, the corporate trainer was teaching us to ask for a single order, something non-threatening, and something that would at open up an opportunity to prove ourselves. It’s really a strong strategy when it is employed well; once you are being paid, your dream client is an actual client and not a prospective client.
But, alas, I was young. When it was my turn to role-play, instead of asking for a single order, I asked for all of the business. I asked to displace their existing provider, and started making a point of how we were going to fix this fictitious company’s problems. The role play continued, the trainer directing me back to the task at hand, asking for a single order, me expanding it to taking all of the business and believing I had the right to do so. I believed that we were really good, we could really help, and we were obligated to do something meaningful. I was confident, and my real sales manager was encouraging me along this path.
The Vice President of Operations for the region quietly pulled me aside and asked me to join her another room. We had a good relationship, and honestly, I was too young and too naïve to even know I was being reprimanded. She said: “Listen, you are supposed to be asking for a single order. Just ask for a single order, okay?” I replied: “Why? Out in the real world, I am not going to ask for a single order. I am going to try to win all of the business. We’re already doing this now.”
She interrupted me, and said: “Look. Most of the people sitting around that table aren’t even going to ask for a single order. We can’t even get them to do that. Most of them are never going to ask to take the whole account.”
And she was right. Most of them were never going to go out and ask for all of the business. Most of them weren’t really salespeople; they were service people with a salesperson’s title. At the time, I didn’t understand her point.
The Moral of the Story
You can’t serve up a story like this without there being some moral. Asking for a single order is a fine tactical sales move. But it isn’t the right strategy. The right strategy for a salesperson and a sales organization is to create enough value that neither they nor their clients could even dream of doing something with anything less than all of their business.
If you are going to do something, do something big. Target your big dream client. Create big and meaningful value. And play for all of the marbles. Don’t dabble around the edges. It’s not good for you, and it isn’t what your dream clients need from you.
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