Editor’s note: Greatest Sales are true accounts of how successful salespeople made a challenging sale despite price objections, buyer inertia, cutthroat competition and other obstacles. Here, Mike Wolever, National Director of Trucking Sales for Signature Worldwide in Dublin Ohio, tells how he won the sale even though the corporate buyers were dead-set against him.
I sold a great service with a proven track record and a potentially huge impact on the prospect’s bottom line. An internal champion was pushing hard for me. He’d set up a meeting with the key decision makers. But they’d shut me down.
“We already have a plan, and you’re not in it,” they said.
No new ideas wanted
Our company offers training for front-line customer-service staff. Our clients see significant sales increases from our training and I had the numbers to prove it. We’d mostly been selling to the construction industry. But our service was also a natural for the trucking industry, so I was trying to open up that market.
After months of prospecting, I’d developed an enthusiastic champion: a regional manager for a major truck manufacturer. He arranged a meeting with the national marketing team, but they weren’t willing to listen. In their world, new ideas flowed from headquarters out to the regions, not the other way around.
I tried. I showed what we’d achieved for other clients and explained what we could do for their business. I proposed a low-risk, small-scale trial. They had other initiatives in the works, they said. Their plans were set and weren’t going to change.
My champion was as frustrated as me. Together, we came up with a new approach.
Up the down staircase
Instead of going up the corporate ladder, we went in a different direction.
The champion found a local dealer who was willing to try us out for his parts counter. We set up a trial program well below the radar screen of the corporate naysayers. We got good results and soon we’d set up programs with other dealers.
Now that we were getting rave reviews at the local level, it was time to take another run at headquarters. I knew these successes wouldn’t be likely to sway the national marketing department. So we let the buzz bubble up through a different channel.
The Parts Department was responsible for producing parts and supplying them to the dealers. They were seeing firsthand the results of our efforts. Orders for parts were increasing and the dealers were talking up our success. The SVP in charge of the department took notice. “We need this for all the dealers,” he told us.
I explained that I’d already met with the marketing department and they’d said no. “Don’t worry about that,” he said. “I’ll take care of it.” And he did.
With a powerful sponsor behind us, the marketing department no longer blocked us. We soon got the green light to roll out our program throughout the company. Years later, it’s still one of our best accounts. This was my greatest sale not only because it opened up a new market for our company, but also because it reminded me that there’s often more than one path to a successful sale.
photo credit: woodleywonderworks
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