A Wake-Up Call To Sales

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We’ve all experienced that pushy sales person that gets under your skin.  For too many years, “sales” as a profession has conjured up images of bad suits and used car lots.  It is unfortunate.  There is a business axiom that “nothing happens until first a sale.”  So true.

While I am officially in the sales adjacent function (Marketing),  I grew up in sales in the CPG industry.  In fact, I believe it’s one of 2 critical experiences every marketing leader should have in the CPG industry.

Having said that, this week it hit me that the Real Deal sales pro is a rare breed.* *Note, this is probably not isolated to sales, it’s the brutal reality of the bell curve again!

After the meeting I noticed some pretty simple things:

  • I actually TOOK the meeting.  I probably turn down 20+ meetings a month, and take 2 at the most.
  • I enjoyed the meeting.  Was not running out the clock, probably because of positive thoughts coming into the meeting.
  • The sales person was not looking to close a transaction.  He was looking to help in any possible way, even if that did not generate a sale.
  • I could see myself wanting to do business with him in the future, should the opportunity arise.

Maybe most important?  I felt compelled to write his CEO a note with my thoughts.   

The “wake up” moments are listed below in my email.  I did change the name of the sales person to the infamous “Harry Hustle”, and the company to Optimism, Inc and CEO to who other than John Smith!.

 

Maybe the most important learning?
The 15 minutes it took to write the note, not only felt good for me, but it may have made “Harry Hustles” day, or week.

The CEO may have learned a thing or 2 as well.  If he was smart, he shared it with his management team and asked themselves some hard questions related to their business, who is representing them and if they hiring the right talent broadly.  But that is his concern….

Looking back on a long day, it reinforced that the best moments are usually found when you lift people up.  Sincere, heartfelt notes actually brighten YOUR mood.  Optimism is usually a precursor to having a great day, with better results.

People that “WOW” you may not be around the corner every day, but when you see it:

RECOGNIZE it.

Celebrate it.  Tell people.

It will do wonders for your attitude.

And that will have lasting benefits, long after you hit the send button.

From: Mark Olivito

Sent: Friday, February 22, 2013 6:31 AM
To: John smith, CEO Optimism Inc.  
Subject: Feedback on Harry Hustle
 
Mr. Smith,
I asked Harry for your email address and hope you don’t mind the unsolicited feedback.
 
I used to sell behavior targeting services for Catalina Marketing to clients who never heard of the company.  Their product was super premium price and I had fun selling it.  Now, I run Marketing for Monogram Foods, and we have been fortunate to be on the Inc 5000 fastest growing companies for 4 years in a row.  I think this is a blessing and a curse.  Because of the PR, I probably get 15/20 cold calls/emails approaches a week and I struggle to keep the sales people at bay.  Of the 20 per week that come my way, I may take 1-2 meetings per MONTH.  This month I met with Harry.
 
Having been on both sides of the desk, I think I have an eye for somebody that “gets it.”  Harry is that guy, and I wanted to tell you this directly as the CEO of Optimism inc.,  
 
There are reasons I only take 1-2 meetings per month.  First, I probably put in 65+ hours per week working in the cut-throat CPG space where margins are tight, on a good day.  Time is my first currency.  Second, 98% of salespeople are in “Push mode” looking at today’s transaction.  I certainly get that and feel for them.  Unfortunately, they don’t get a foot in my door.  Third, most of them don’t do their homework.  I subscribe to the school of thought that its better to know something about your customer than EVERYTHING about your product. 
 
Nearly all the pushers that reach me are painfully transparent in the fact that they have not done their homework.  Google is pretty simple, when people don’t know the basics I assume their lazy.  That may be short sighted on my part, but I have 2 young kids at home, and lazy people are not going to help me get hours back in my week.  People that Hustle, will!
 
Harry is that guy that is the reverse of all of those things.  He is clearly focused on adding value for a marathon, not a sprint.  In growth companies, cash is always tight, but its usually bigger over the next few years vs today.  Mindsets for long term vs today’s transaction win.  Harry’s been adding value from first connection, sharing news, thoughts, research, etc.  This won’t translate into a sale today, but he’s certainly captured my mind share, and he’s one of the few that’s earned a seat at the table.  I don’t know a lot about Optimism Inc., but the company is now on my radar.  Not because of your technology, which I’m sure is impressive.  It’s because you have a heck of an asset in Harry.  He is a pro…..solid talent.  Not sure how you came into bringing him to your org, but he’s a rare breed in my experience.
 
Hope this feedback puts a smile on your face, you have an A player working the streets.
Have a great day,
Mark Olivito
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Comments

  1. Harry Hustle says:

    I wish more people took your approach to how they run a P&L. You’re strategic, yet tactical. You concentrate on short term gains, but position for long term growth. Meeting you was a pleasure. I believe marketers, at the individual contributor level, are only focused on their tasks at hand. So, are sales reps. Rather, the individual contributor should be strategic and understand how their job pushes the companies bottom line. There’s a change into today’s business. Shareholders are cut-throat. They demand lower opex costs, higher margins, and greater returns. It’s mandatory the individual contributor help their client or their business drive shareholder value. Rarely in the corporate space, do you come across “loyalty” or “forgiveness.” Time is an asset to everyone. Like you say; it’s either hustle and bring value or perish.

    Mark- I enjoyed meeting with you. There’s a reason your job title has 3 letters, and from our time together, I can tell you make everyone in your organization a better person as well as professional. Wouldn’t surprise me if you get asked to run the Monogram one day. Thank you again for your shared time!

    -HH

    • HH,
      Love how you created the “Harry Hustle” g-mail account, that speaks to your creativity and ability to break through, awesome! Second, keep doing what your doing and you will certainly go places. I also caution you that you MAY run into the manager who just wants you to “deliver today’s number” which is certainly not out of the ordinary. Resist the temptation to change your approach, it may work short term but careers are marathons. I appreciate the kind words too. Keep “Hustling.”

  2. Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It’s the little changes that make the most important
    changes. Many thanks for sharing!

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