Content Discovery Smackdown: Hootsuite vs. Buffer vs. KloutContent Marketing Minds: Ingredients of the Tastiest Content [Nutrition Label]From the Corn Field to the Digital Era: Content Marketing Starts with TrustContent Marketing: Is 2014 Really Shaping Up to Be the Year of Video?
Your Customers Aren’t Listening! How to Create Consumer Dialogue that Converts4 Tools for Nonprofit Social Listening and Reputation ManagementThe Promising Role of Social Listening in Treating Health IssuesThe Importance of Social Listening for Brands
- Public Relations
Facebook Testing a Way for Users to Buy Products on the Platform7 Website Tips to Attract More Shoppers to Your PagesHow eCommerce, Augmented and Virtual Reality Will Redefine the Retail ExperienceSearch Query Analysis to Increase eCommerce Website Conversions
- Content Marketing
Technology & Data
Social Startups: Bizible Connects All the Dots from Marketing Contributions to RevenueCreating the Perfect Profile for Your Social Media Marketing EffortUsing GPS and Localization for Social AnalyticsAnalytics and Prospect Intel: Discovering Your Ideal Prospect
- Big Data
- Tech & Innovation
3 Security Risks You’re Taking Every Day While Using Social MediaShould the President Have the Power to "Pull the Plug" on the Internet?How Safe is Your WordPress Website From Hackers and Other Malicious Attacks?
- Software & Tools
- Small Business
- Social Organization
Celebrating the Grand Re-Launch of Social Media Today! SBH Podcast Episode 8Why Should You Care If Your Employees Are Thought Leaders?Beyond Engagement: The Art of Managing Social-Media Risk in Employee Advocacy
Why All-in-One Social Media Management Systems Don't Cut It for Social Customer ServiceWhat You Should Know About Customer, Digital, and Contextual ExperienceSurging into Q3: How to Make It Better Than Q2Is How You Serve Your Customers Costing You Business?
Join us September 15th in Atlanta for The Employee Advocacy Summit and learn how to unleash the power of your employees.
Post your event here and we'll share it with our community. If one of our members is featured, we'll promote as well on their profile.
- Marketplace & Webinars
The SMT Marketplace
Your resource for exclusive content and insights from Social Media Today, and opportunities to reach our community of professionals.
The Social Business Book Club brings you books, discussions, and insights from today's to business thought leaders.
Join interactive talks and and panel discussions with leading thinkers and practitioners on social media and networked business, or browse the catalogue of recorded sessions - all completely free.
Reach Social Media Today's community of marketing and communications professionals in an editor-approved context with a native advertising package.
True Story: Following Your Customer's Marching Orders
Posted on December 20th 2013
Find out how strategically planning for a sales meeting helped Heather land her company's largest contract.
Heather*, CEO of a small training company, couldn’t believe her luck. Through a referral, she’d secured a meeting with a senior Pentagon leader to talk about her new management development program.
Waiting nervously in the lobby, she felt a bit out of place in her trendy outfit and edgy hairdo. When her name was called, she jumped up. Standing by the door to the hallowed halls was the General, who warmly greeted her. Several feet behind him stood his two aides de camp.
“Card,” the General barked. One stepped forward, handed him his business card and promptly resumed his original position. He handed it to Heather. Reciprocating, she fumbled in her purse till she found one, and then gave it to him.
“I have a meeting room reserved,” the General said. “Follow me.” As they passed into the secure zone, the two aides-de-camp fell into step behind them, but at a discrete distance that allowed for a private conversation.
Walking down white corridor after white corridor, Heather struggled to keep up to his pace as she tottered along in her high heels. Carrying her overfilled briefcase and big purse made it even more challenging. The aides-de-camp carried everything the General needed.
Despite feeling a bit out of her league, Heather gave a compelling presentation. The General was interested. But the conversation came to a screeching halt when they both realized her company couldn’t scale fast enough to handle the Pentagon’s needs.
Regrouping & Rethinking
Undefeated, Heather and her leadership team spent months rethinking and restructuring their service offering so they were capable of training huge numbers of personnel in ridiculously short time periods. When she was confident that they were ready for prime time, she re-contacted the General and got on his calendar.
Knowing that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Heather was not going to blow it. She and her team immersed themselves in understanding their buyer’s objectives, issues and challenges. They crafted a strategic plan for their initial meeting, put together an agenda and then practiced.
Heather also studied military protocol—and practiced it with her colleagues. She knew they’d have a better chance of getting the business if the General and his staff felt comfortable with her team.
How She Got the Business
It was the day of the big meeting. Sitting in the lobby, a toned-down Heather was dressed in a proper business suit and good walking pumps; her colleagues were similarly attired.
When the General arrived, Heather and her team went to meet them. After a exchanging a few pleasantries, they began the long walk down the endless hallways. Heather’s colleagues, who were carrying her briefcase and purse, followed discretely behind.
Upon reaching the meeting room, Heather was introduced to additional staff members. “Card,” she said. Her colleague stepped forward and handed it to her.
The General took his position at the table. His aides-de-camp positioned themselves at seats behind him. Heather sat opposite the General; her colleagues sat behind her. After a short, but very productive discussion, the General decided it was worth moving to the next step.
At that meeting, Heather implemented a brilliant strategy and flawlessly executed it. But, it takes more than one good conversation to get the business. Heather’s team knew that -- planned for each one just like the first.
The net result? Within fairly short order, they closed their first deal with the Pentagon. It was the largest contract they’d ever landed. Since that time, it’s migrated into a highly profitable, multi-year project. And, upon discovering other unmet needs, Heather’s company created (and sold) several other new services offerings.
Here’s the Deal
Most sellers I know barely plan for their upcoming meetings. They operate on cruise control, totally oblivious to what’s even possible if they’d engage in the opportunity.
Selling is a thinking-intensive profession today. It requires you to engage your brain, to invest time learning, to strategize and create.
Yes, it takes longer to do that. But the other option is to make an endless number of wasted calls, contacts and conversations that lead to know where.
Which will you choose?
*Based on a true story. Names and details have been changed to protect identities of the actual people involved.