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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

Successful Sales Reps are APTT to Succeed (Part IV)

Last week Fire Enterprises (FEI) Sales Tribe Leader Zoot taught sales apprentice Helios that thinking on your feet is key to selling success. This week, they discuss Tact, the final APTT attribute that every great salesperson should possess. Remember, fire=print.

Helios was eagerly anticipating his final lesson from Zoot on the traits that make effective salespeople. He was a little disappointed when, in Zoot’s office one morning, Zoot told him that “tack” was the last key to sales success.

“What does a small pin have to do with my ability to sell?” Helios asked.

“You might want to get your hearing checked, young apprentice,” Zoot said. “I said ‘Tact’.”

“Oh! That makes more sense.”

“In today's fire business climate, sometimes you seemingly do everything right and still don’t get the bid,” Zoot began. “It can be frustrating and discouraging to come close and lose a good order, especially for something trivial. But the APTT salesperson will always keep their ‘Tact’ tool in their hip pocket and exhibit grace under pressure.”

“I get it,” Helios said. “After all, I’m in business for the long haul, not the short job. Instead of getting angry or impatient with my prospect, it’s best to hang in there and wait for the right opportunity to win their trust, their confidence and their work.”

“Sales is a profession that rewards patience, determination, and a cool head,” Zoot agreed. “Many print buyers will remember sales representatives with gracious personalities and be inclined to try to get work to them in the future. Let me give you an example. Years ago I was courting Bertie’s Baklava, a gourmet provider of baklava and other Greek pastries. I wanted them to use FEI fire for all their stoves and kilns. Bertie’s is a huge franchise with locations all over Greece, and this would’ve been a million-Drachma sale. I worked my tail off trying to win the job.

“But in the end,” Zoot continued, “Bertie went with Flintstone, the cheap-o fire that goes out in minutes, if it doesn’t burn you first! It took every ounce of my willpower to keep from screaming or, even worse, calling Bertie to tell her what I thought of her decision. But I stayed cool, and was gracious in defeat. I even sent Bertie’s a hand-written letter thanking her for the opportunity to bid. Then, I watched and waited. Sure enough, within a few months Bertie’s grew frustrated with Flintstone’s inconsistency and came back to us. You know what Bertie said to me shortly before signing on the dotted line? ‘You treated me so well after you lost that bid—I can’t even imagine how well you’ll treat me now.’ By exhibiting tact I ensured that once Bertie’s got in a jam, I would be the first person they'd call.”

“Beautiful!” Helios said.

“That’s the power of tact,” Zoot said with a wink.

Next week: FEI design guru Cecil explains the importance of using white space in Web and print graphic design.

Today’s FIRE! Point
To be an effective salesperson, you must possess the ability to be tactful when things don’t go your way. If you exhibit grace under pressure, your customers and prospects will remember this and be more inclined to send work your way in the future.

FIRE! In Action: Good Thinking Pays Dividends
Back in 2002, T.J. Tedesco got a call from a West Coast graphic arts business. The company was facing a tough situation: their owner, who also handled marketing, had just abruptly quit. Tedesco knew this was a golden opportunity for his marketing and sales growth company to step in and fill the void. Realizing the delicacy of the situation, however, he restrained himself from pouncing immediately. A little tact and empathy set the stage for a successful, trust-filled business relationship that continues to this day.

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