It’s a challenge to gain a first meeting with a client. It’s an exercise in problem-solving. You have to develop some theory as to why your dream client may need to do something different. You have to figure out who to call, as well as what they might value enough from you in trade for their time. The “no” to your request isn’t rejection; it’s feedback that informs you that you haven’t yet solved the puzzle, that you need to try again. The “yes” is all the sweeter when you worked for it.
Stepping through the front door to meet what is almost always a complete stranger for a conversation is stepping into the unknown, one that requires you set an agenda that creates enough value to earn a next step, and open a conversation about business, and one that rarely avoids the personal. This is the art of the conversation, the art of a commercial conversation, and it’s always in some way unique. When you get things right, you end up with a new contact—and potentially a new opportunity.
As much as you’d rather not have any competition, what could be more challenging, more fun, and more meaningful than competing against a worthy opponent in a contest to see who can create the greater value and the greater preference? There is something about looking at the sign in sheet and knowing that you are in a contest that brings out your competitive spirit—and a good bit of fight and energy. A hard won contest is more interesting—and more satisfying.
The more people in a deal, the more challenging they tend to be. Managing a list of stakeholders is the sort of exercise that can stretch. First, you have to figure out who is involved, and then you have to figure out what they want, and at some point you have to create enough of a preference and consensus to choose you, your company, and your solution, something that can be challenging with a single person, and increasingly complex when there are fourteen people involved in the initiative.
The negotiation. The back and forth. Talking about the right decisions ands trade-offs. Matching the investments to the outcomes. The consequences of failure, and the results when you succeed. All of the give and take, timelines, and pressure, when it is real.
You have to love the lessons when you lose and the adjustments you make to improve from day to day and deal to deal.
Most of all, what competes with winning a client and helping them produce wildly better results than they were generating without you and your help. How can you not love the great game of sales?