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, Tom Searcy, Founder of Hunt Big Sales in Fishers Indiana, tells how he took on the leaders in his industry and won.

“Thank you for inviting me to present to you today,” I told the buying committee. “But we all know I am not going to win this contract.”

I was dead serious. We were a $42 million company invited to bid on a $400 million call-center deal. All of the other semifinalists were much, much larger.

I’d already asked why we were in the running. “Your approach is fresh and exciting,” they’d said. “We want to pick your brain, get to know you and see how we can work together.”

In other words, they wanted to get our best ideas and throw us to the curb. I had better things to do with my time.

“You have just as much chance as anyone else to win this business,” a guy in the back said.

“No, we don’t,” I insisted. “In fact, let’s make a list of the reasons I’m not going to get your business. I’ll start.”

I went to the whiteboard and wrote, “Too small.”

“Well, you are small,” someone said.

I wrote, “Technology issues.”

“Um, yeah, we did discuss that.”

I wrote, “Labor.”

Someone shouted out, “Facilities!” I added it to the list.

After that it was a free-for-all. People piled on. In two minutes, the whiteboard was full.

I’d started this exercise because I was angry. But now I had a plan. I said, “If I can come back in two weeks and take all of these issues off the table, will you agree to leave them off the table?” To my complete surprise, the guy in the back said, “Yes.”

“Will you bring everyone in the buying process to the meeting, so we only have to cover them once?” Again the guy said, “Yes.”

The next meeting
Two weeks later I opened the follow-up meeting by recapping the list. Then I sat down and our banker stood up. Not our local banker. One from the bank’s billion-dollar headquarters. “We’re excited to partner on this proposal,” he said. “We’ll provide full financing. Here are the details.” He clicked through his PowerPoint.

Next up: An exec from one of the largest IT companies. “We’ll supply architecture, hardware, software, services.” Click, click click. “And by the way, we already work with you, so our technology is compatible.”

A senior vice president from the largest staffing company in the world stood up. “We will support 93% of the staffing needs for this project. Here are the job descriptions.” Click click click.

He went on. “And we’ve found five facilities around the country that meet your needs. Here’s what they look like.” Click click click.

Between our team and our high-powered partners, we put a line through every item on the list. Two months later, we’d won the business.

How did we pull it off? Well, we showed we could quickly assemble the resources they needed. But even more important, I think, was the fact that we pulled no punches. We told it like it was, right from the start. That’s why they trusted us, and that’s what made this my greatest sale.

Searcy’s website: www.huntbigsales.com

photo credit: me’nthedogs

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