One of our early clients was Jeff (not his real name), the part owner of a financial services company co-founded with his brother. Jeff invested a large sum of money in developing bespoke software and a business model to manage the financial affairs of high-net-worth individuals, people with a complex mix of business and personal finances.
After a few years of development, the software finally worked, but Jeff couldn’t attract and convert enough new clients. There was a serious risk the investment would be a complete financial loss. And Jeff’s inability to find new clients was causing strain in his relationship with his brother. His brother was CEO and had always been considered the ‘salesperson’ of the team. But the new service and software was Jeff’s baby. Jeff had to sell it but selling was way out of his comfort zone as one trained as an accountant.
Jeff came to us in 2014 and asked us to review his business development approach. We assessed his methodology and I gave him a sales conversation screening test. To say Jeff’s approach was lacking is a huge understatement. He was 100 percent analytical, relying on long-winded technical emails to approach new clients. On the rare occasion he secured a meeting he spent 95 percent of the time talking. The concepts of building rapport and consulting with questions seemed to be unknown to Jeff.
My first inclination was to propose he hire a salesperson. I didn’t think Jeff could succeed at sales. He was open to that idea but insisted we first train him to sell. He was determined to prove to himself he could do it.
The development plan created for Jeff included individual coaching on telephone calling and consultative meetings. We taught questioning, listening and story skills. Jeff is the best student I’ve had in twenty years of helping salespeople. He followed the plan to the letter. He devoured everything we gave him, practised relentlessly and slowly started to win business. He was motivated. As he gained customers we helped him obtain testimonials and success stories, and his clients became raving fans.
Then, calamity. There was an acrimonious falling out with his brother. For several months they fought, eventually agreeing to go their separate ways. Jeff would take over the business, the staff and the new software code and manage on his own.
But Jeff was a changed man. Gone was the lack of confidence and fear of failure. Now he knows how to sell and how to deliver value to his clients. He’s doing well on his own, master of his own destiny.
From Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell
For Story Students: (Success Story Framework)
The Setting: 1988, 2015 Australia
The Client: Jeff a co-owner of a financial services company
The Problem: Cannot sell new software service
Meets a guide: Meets Mike's company
Provides a Plan: Had a sales evaluation and put on an extended sales training program
Avoids Failure: Breakup with CEO brother
Achieves Success: Business going great now
The Point of the Story: You can achieve success with our services