By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® -The Sales Training Company
Image courtesy of Felixco, Inc. at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Years ago I worked on a transaction with a client that was on an IBM mainframe. I had gotten into the account with disk drives about 6 months prior, the first non-IBM devices in their data center.
The client was experiencing performance problems and needed more memory. That meant upgrading the processor at a cost of about $6M. I had an offering that could expand the memory and defer the upgrade for about a year that cost $250K. What appeared to be an easy financial decision became political and got complicated.
The IBM salesperson enjoyed a close relationship with the CIO, a person I could not gain access to. My highest contact was the VP of IT who was responsible for the data center. He shared with me, aware that the IBM rep would likely not make his quota that year if the mainframe upgrade order wasn’t placed.
The decision hung for about 3 weeks. Finally the VP suggested meeting for lunch to discuss where things stood. Over lunch the pros and cons were considered. He flip-flopped several times between making the better financial or political choice. Nothing had been decided. When the bill came, he took it saying he’d pick up lunch. Instinctively I took the check from his hand and told him as the vendor it was mine to pay.
About a week later I got the order. To this day I’m not sure exactly how it happened. What I will tell you is that the VP picking up lunch was his way of saying: Sorry, you aren’t getting this order. I’m virtually certain I wouldn’t have gotten the order if he had paid the check.
I sometimes tell this war story during workshops to make the point that selling is a combination of science and art. CCS® tries to swing the pendulum toward being more science, but there will always be the human element. Selling is complex and situational. Experience combined with sales process is a hard combination to beat