I Just Got Sold (& Loved It!)

Given the work I do with folks in career transition, I tend to receive a dozen or so calls each year from members of the financial planning profession, seeking to address my clients or to build a referral partnership of some kind.  They realize correctly, of course, that when people go through layoffs or leave their jobs, they often face the need to roll over their 401k funds or tweak their investment portfolio.

In general, however, I tend to defer these requests, since in actual practice it’s extremely rare that one of my clients asks me for advice on their finances or to refer them to somebody for investment help.  And every time I’ve tried hosting networking sessions related to the financial planning topic, the turnout has been abysmal.  Not sure if I’m just not marketing such events correctly or people already have their own trusted advisors in place, but either way, that’s the reality.

So anyway, when I received a call earlier today from a financial advisor who was referred to me by somebody in my network, I’ll admit I tried to politely blow the person off, several times.  And guess what?  He didn’t let me.  Which I thought, weird as it might sound, was really, really cool.  Here’s roughly how the conversation went:

Him: “So, Matt, I’d love to get together and talk about how I could be a resource to your clients in terms of their financial situation and the decisions they’re facing.”

Me: “That sounds great, but to be perfectly up front with you, I’m not sure how useful I can be in this regard, since I almost never get asked for those kinds of referrals and… (blah blah blah – I uttered all the excuses I wrote about, above).”

Him: “Thanks for your candor and that totally makes sense, but I think you’ll find my approach to this material is totally different, and much more geared towards the specific needs of people in career transition than other programs you may have seen out there.”

Me: “That’s good to know, and I’m sure you’re right, but again, I’m just not sure how helpful I can be.”

Him: “You know, Matt, I hear what you’re saying, but I just have this gut feeling that we’d hit it off and that some pretty great things might come out of a conversation together, especially based on what our mutual friend had to say about you and your client base.  So I’d still love to give it a shot and see what happens.  Are you up for it?”

Me: “Boy, my schedule is just packed these next few weeks so I’m not sure when we could find the time to get together.”

Him: “No worries.  My schedule tends to be pretty crazy, as well, so waiting a few weeks isn’t a problem at all.  In fact, I think we’d only need 15 minutes or so to get acquainted and kick some ideas around.   Any chance you happen to have a 15-minute window in early December when I might swing by your office?  Would Wednesday the 7th work?”

Me: “Umm, geez, I suppose so.

Him: “Fantastic.  Got it booked and I look forward to meeting you.  Have a great Thanksgiving, in the meantime, and I’ll drop you a line a day before the appointment just to confirm!”

Check.  And mate.  Like a karate master, he countered every one of my expert blow-off moves to the point that, short of abruptly hanging up the phone, there was simply no way I could get out of giving him what he wanted — a meeting and a chance to prove himself.

Looking back on the call, I can’t help but be impressed at how perfectly he executed numerous tactics right out of the “sales pro” playbook.  He outfoxed me at every turn, ranging from referring to me by name (sweet music to anyone’s ears) to making a meeting ridiculously convenient for me (a mere 15 minutes, at my office, on a date of my choosing) to embracing each of my objections (versus arguing with me) and always leading us back to common ground.  Plus, he threw in a hard-to-resist “trial close” at the very end and immediately got off the phone when he had attained his goal — a short appointment.

So we’ll see how it goes, come Pearl Harbor Day, and as a student of such things I can simply say that my hat is off to this guy for his performance today.  Just goes to show you that when you fearlessly go after what you want, don’t easily take no for an answer, and gracefully counter the objections you might face — versus getting angry or defensive — you can land a lot more meetings with people than you might think!

Seemed like this might be useful information for those of you out there trying earnestly to land interviews and networking conversations with people around town who might initially try to blow YOU off!  While you won’t win ’em all, borrow a few pages from the above script and who knows?  You might be more successful than you think…


7 Responses to “I Just Got Sold (& Loved It!)”

  1. Thanks Matt. Since this is exactly the mode I am in to build my new consulting business (networking and cold calling at the C-level for appointments) I can totally appreciate your experience here. And, even though I am a seasoned sales pro, it is a simple reminder of the key elements in gracefully and professionally handling the typical objections.

    There is one key piece that is not always easy to garner and that is the trusted 3rd party reference. In this case he was able to leverage that and I’m sure in the back of your mind (subconsciously?) it gave him an extra dose of credibility. I am finding that plays a large influence in any first cold contact (especially at the C-level) therefore making it less “cold”.

    Depending on the circumstances, LinkedIn can play a valuable role in this process and you would be surprised at how often this tool can make the difference in tipping the initial contact in the right direction . . .

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for your replies, everyone, and glad you liked the article!

    Andrew, I enjoyed your added insights, in particular, since you’re absolutely right. People often act as if these kinds of sales and self-promotional skills come naturally and easily. Not necessarily. They take practice — sometimes years of practice — to perfect.

    Years ago, i even had one client suggest that if you were to send a group of job hunters (without sales backgrounds, ostensibly) to even ONE basic class on sales training, they’d reap incredible rewards in their job search. I’ve never put that suggestion directly to the test, but it’s an intriguing one, since unless one’s “product” truly sells itself (e.g. your talents are unique and lucky enough to be in demand right now) you’re going to be doing some form of “selling” every day, as an active job hunter.

    Thanks for deepening the conversation!

  3. this anecdote brings to mind a book that i read which i am sure is long out-of-print. it’s called “When I Say No I Feel Guilty”. all you needed to do was to play “broken record” and the salesman would feel like he was climbing a glass wall. the book is worth reading. it has many applications to daily life.

  4. Hey Matt, this kind of vicarious role-playing is really helpful. Thanks!

  5. Thanks Matt! Thanks also to Price for his public service descriptor.

  6. As a person who has spent some time in the sales myself, what you experienced here was a “consumate professional”.

    Translated, the means somebody who has spent thousands of dollars in training,and thousands of hours honing thier craft.

    Lot’s of people think good salespeople are just born, or fit a certain personality profile, and they have a “natural talent”. This is true for maybe 10% for the really high producers out there, but for for most, it’s not really the case.

    Other than the commitment to training and hard work mentioned above, only definitive personality trait of great sales people is the capacity to work hard, stay focused and stay positive in the absense of direct supervision and a compensation “safety net”.

    If there is one “takeaway” from the above story, it’s that before this guy even picked up the phone, he had a crystal clear objective; get an appointment.

    When he sits in your office on the 7th, guess what? He’ll have ANOTHER crystal clear objective.

    Thats a pro, and a good lesson for everyone about to pick up the phone or take a meeting with a client or business associate.

  7. Matt, it’s a public service when you post examples like this. Perfect examples of overcoming objectives and the assumptive close. Bravo!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: