Coffee is For Closers

I have had a very humbling past few weeks. I found myself in a situation where I needed to cold call (after cold e-mailing), a significant amount of people who had no idea I existed prior, and essentially asked them for money to partner with me at the upcoming Graphics Of The Americas.

What did I learn? I am NOT a closer. I won’t get the Glengarry leads, or win a Cadillac Eldorado, or the set of steak knives for that matter. Luckily I work for myself, or third prize would have been mine! Closers know what I’m talking about.

It wasn’t shocking to me that I had no sales technique because I am a buyer and used to being on the easy side where I control things. Once that flipped, not only did my world fall apart, but I also realized I had no idea about the art of sales, or any style.

A-I-D-A. Attention, Interest, Decision, Action.

I honestly think my biggest problem was confidence. I believed in the Print Media Centr partnership package I was offering, but not so much in how to make it happen. I was uncomfortable and I’m pretty sure I made a few people equally as uncomfortable. At one point I even stopped my spiel and asked for feedback. Awkward.

Then I decided I needed to first tell people who I was, and what Print Media Centr is, and why that should matter to them. So I tried that a few times but found myself rolling my own eyes about halfway through and wishing I would get to my own point.

About 15 calls in, I changed tactics again. This time I would just assume that the person had read my e-mail, and that I was calling to follow up and see if they had any questions. This went a little smoother, and I think it’s because I sounded confident. A few people even found the e-mail in their inbox and reviewed it with me. Then I got the “ok, well now I need to pass it along to the real person who makes such decisions,” but that was certainly better than crickets.

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  • Rick Baker

    LOL….welcome to the sales arena Deborah, and discovering the "real world"! Thanks for being so transparent, and vulnerable too. Now maybe some of you guys(gals) that wear a different "hat" will have a little more compassion & empathy! You really described and experienced the true art of ‘consultant selling’! Well done, and you go girl!

  • PatMcGrew

    You hit the nail on the head. Thanks so much for sharing and congratulations on finding great partners. They clearly figured out the secret… YOU ARE AN AMAZING PARTNER. Go be brilliant at GOA next week!

  • Aline Dudash

    Deb, I can truly appreciate this post and your efforts. I too, have been humbled these past few months, trying to "sell" myself. It’s not easy, especially when I have never had a knack for sales. I totally identify with the "buyer" and have spent all my life "doing" and being the one in control. Now I’m having to learn how to "brand" and "sell" my skills in one neat little package…and you know how hard that can be as a print buyer. How to put a lifetime of print and advertising production management skills in a neat little package to sell is a daunting task at best. My sales skills suck, which is why I’m not a salesperson and I certainly have a new appreciation for sales people. Congratulations on your success!

  • Aline Dudash

    Deb, I can truly appreciate this post and your efforts. I too, have been humbled these past few months, trying to "sell" myself. It’s not easy, especially when I have never had a knack for sales. I totally identify with the "buyer" and have spent all my life "doing" and being the one in control. Now I’m having to learn how to "brand" and "sell" my skills in one neat little package…and you know how hard that can be as a print buyer. How to put a lifetime of print and advertising production management skills in a neat little package to sell is a daunting task at best. Congratulations on your success!

  • Linda Henning

    Imagine my surprise when after 30 some years in print production, estimating and sales I found myself having to broker printing. First the market is so small that all they "Need" is quick print copy service or (choke, gag) just print off the3 in one desktop printer. When i did get specs my heart would leap at "30". " 30,000? " " No,30 … copies " One thing I have learned in a small or closed market (they already have a friend…) is that you have to get involved in the community, in events, in anything that gets you side by side the people you want to sell to in a non-sales atmosphere. Then the sales pitch is not a pitch at all. They know you, you can help them, they trust you. I’m planning a relaunch in the late summer/fall when fishing season is over because in Alaska you don’t want to have to compete with fish.

  • Kelly Mallozzi

    Deb
    Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your experience. I am glad that you stuck it out and acheived your goal – because so many people would have given up. On a side note, I would be happy to have a quick coaching session with you to help you sharpen those skills that you need. As my friend Bill Farquaharson always says – figure out what the other guy wants, help him to get it, and you both win (which is actually Dale Carnegie!)
    Keep up the hard work and you will get better – I’m here if you need me!

  • RyanSauers

    Deborah, I hope you are great and look forward to seeing you in Orlando… I just have to say!!! I LOVE THIS TITLE… Coffee is for closers!!! That Rocks!!! Keep it up! RTS

  • RyanSauers

    PS see you at #GOA2013 next week!!!!

  • Mary Beth Smith

    Girl #2, I can’t begin to count the ways I love you AND this column! That pay-off of knowing you found "win-win" is what keeps people selling! BTW – you are a really fast learner!! Congratulations from Girl #1 and the Girls Who Print on a job well done!

  • Dean Rose

    i love that story.. and the movie clip, made me laugh! you’re right Deborah it’s a tough job selling but i love it.. i love the chase, hunt and getting no’s all the time and the real glory comes when people finally want to speak to you and buy from you because they trust you as you as they realise you are ultimately good or have a good product! Sales after all, make the world go round right?

  • Helene Smith

    Deb, thank you for being real.It’s so rare. And by the way, you are amazing at what you do.

  • Michael Nuccio

    Hello Deborah,
    Thanks for posting such a great article. Keep smiling and know that every cold calling salesperson has been in that place at some point. The movie you have been quoting Glen Gary / Glen Ross is a classic!….and should be required viewing for every salesperson. "if you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed"-David Viscott. Looks like you are on your way to a great start. Good hunting!