You Rarely Get What You Do Not Ask For

Last night was book club. Yup. A room full of 30- and 40-something women drinking wine and USUALLY talking about the book for about 20 minutes of the three hours that we get together.

But last night was different. “Why?” I’m sure you are dying to ask.

Because the best-selling author of the book that we read was in the room with us for the discussion.

“How the heck did that happen?” you may be asking your computer screen right now?

I wrote to the author and asked her to come. And she said, “yes.”

Full disclosure. She says on her website that she is happy to attend book clubs either in person or via SKYPE. And she lives in Chicago. So coming to the western suburbs was not THAT big of a trip for her.

But my point is this. It will be much more difficult for you to get what you want from your life if you do not identify what you want, as clearly as possible, and figure out who can help you to get it. How does this translate into your sales career? Here are a couple of ways.

• Asking for referrals. Many leading networking experts suggest that you develop a brief elevator speech that clearly identifies what a good customer looks like to you. That way, if someone asked you how they could help you find a new customer, you could tell them very briefly, yet descriptively.

Here is an example. “My best customers are $2-$50 million print shops in the Midwest that have between one and 20 salespeople or a selling owner.” Anyone who can help me get an introduction to a high-level decision maker at such a company would be a great networking connection for me.

• Your language usage. In talking with a connector, receptionist or even a prospect directly, try telling them exactly what you want or need. Example:

  • “I need to have a brief conversation with the person who is responsible for launching your new product next January that I read about in the Wall Street Journal. Can you please either give me his/her email address or thrown me into his/her voicemail?” or
  • “I want to discover whether my direct mail solutions can help your company find more customers and sell more of your products. I usually start with a brief assessment meeting to see if there are any synergies. When would be a good time to make that happen?”

I have received objections before from readers who say that type of language is too self-centered to be effective. Meaning the line of discussion should be focused more on the prospect and not on me. What do you think?

Now working as a consultant, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include client recovery, retention and acquisition, and marketing communications projects.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league.

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