Work began on the presentation six weeks before the meeting.
A national buyer planned a cattle call meeting to be held for only one day in a motel room. The budget for the entire following year would be awarded to hungry radio sales people. There would be lots of numbers to be crunched and teeth to be gnashed preparing for the event. This one salesman had never met the buyer and his station had yet to win any buys from the company that represented a national beer. Our salesman carefully calculated prices and extra bonuses to get the buyer’s attention. He received the station’s pre-approval for his negotiating range and felt armed for combat. The big day came. Sales people from the region filled the motel lobby and hall waiting their turns. Finally our guy got his chance. When he was just about to open the notebook to display an extensive presentation, the buyer looked at and held up her Rolex and said, “You got three minutes. Make it good.”
With that, our salesman closed his notebook, sat back in his seat, folded his hands comfortably across his mid frame, took a breath, and said, “What are your two biggest goals for next year?”
The buyer relaxed and answered, “Increase case sales to retailers and lower my cost of promotions.”
The salesman said, “We can do that. Work with us this year. You’ll see our promotions are not silly contests, but based on real measurable traffic to retailers where we can get you in the door.”
At that point there were two minutes left on the countdown. The buyer checked her watch. The room was quiet until, “I want to hear more.”
There was no more talk of time limits. This encounter, which is a true account, provides a secret advantage only used by the best of the A Team players.
First, you probably recognize the ‘High Gain’ question that probes for two goals that are strictly customer focused.
The other teachable moment is in one word. Confidence.
Weaker sales people will fall all over themselves when a buyer intimidates them with time limits or other distractions. They’ll rush to tell the buyer all the great things about their business. In the case of radio sales, the dialogue will be filled with ratings, how their station is number one here and there, and the cost to reach a thousand people, or hit some magical cost per point figure. All boring stuff. The real pro takes a breath, relaxes the room, and puts the customer first with a high gain question. Buyers want their problems solved and features about your business are the last things they care about. That’s where confidence comes in.
Confidence comes from passion. The key is to be capable of delivering on the promises made. If you say can do it, be sure you can. For some people confidence is natural. For others it can be developed.
Confidence came natural to me beginning as a kid. One afternoon when I was imitating the morning radio announcer on the most popular station in Richmond, VA. WLEE ruled as Number One and the morning man was Harvey Hudson. He was also the General Manager and the best sales person at the station. As I imitated Harvey and played with my record player, my big brother and my father walked through on the way to build something or tear down something in the back yard. Real work. My father mentioned in passing, “That’s an idea,” sarcastically, “Play records for a living.”
That was a real ‘ah ha’ moment for my young nine year old brain. “Really. People make a living playing records.”
At that moment, even though I didn’t know what the feeling was at the time, a huge sense of confidence welled up in me. Turns out, some are lucky enough to make a living playing records. The real lucky ones, in any field, are the ones that get that dose of confidence that propels them through life like rocket fuel.
Another teachable moment happened years later. I played more Kiss records in high rotation than is probably good for anyone. Gene Simmons rocked and Kiss sky rocketed. Later on his reality TV show on cable, he showed why Kiss was so successful. In some of the episodes he is given a challenge, and Gene Simmons always says, “I can do that.”
Many times Simmons has to figure out later what he has to do to deliver on the promise, but it is that unshakeable confidence that got him his first record deal and every deal he has enjoyed since. Confidence. Unshakeable confidence is the stuff of winners in any field.
Earl Nightingale, another radio guy, made it clear in one of his syndicated radio broadcasts how important confidence is. He began, “Once a person believes they can do something, they actually can.”
This does not allow a total escape from reality. If you think you can earn 20 million a year in the NBA, you may need to be taller than 5 feet and have some skills like running. However, nature created a specific ‘pull’ for each of us. If you have artistic talent, some endeavor may draw you into a passionate profession you are well equipped to handle. Mine wasn’t that tough. Play records for a living.
Earl continued his broadcast with another natural inclination. “We are so full of doubt; we are so suspicious of our own abilities under normal circumstances that we operate far below our capabilities.”
It’s natural to have initial doubts. Doubt creates growth. Doubts come at us internally and from outside sources that may say things such as, “Only one in a million make it in show business, or whatever.”
For me, the only consideration was that I would be that one in a million. That’s where confidence wins. The actor Burt Reynolds addressed this once when he said, “When anyone tells me that something can’t be done, that fuels my fire and motivates me to prove I can.”
Self confidence sets the stage to get anything you want. Earl said, “Begin to act the new part of who you want to be and everything falls into place.”
Confidence comes from visualization. Key findings include:
- Determine what position in your life you want.
- Act immediately in the present to see yourself already in that position.
- Want to own a business? Act and carry yourself in your speech, actions, appearance, stance, and demeanor as if you are that person right now.
- Want to be a rock star? Act like Gene Simmons and say, “I can do that. Kiss is the greatest Rock band in history.”
- If you want to play records for a living. Stop. There are no more records. The songs are digital. But, you can talk on the radio.
Years after I played with my record player imitating Harvey Hudson, confidence and determination paid off when my dreams came true. He became my boss when I worked for WLEE.
Harvey continued his radio career for 70 years and visited one of our Motivation Monday events held by the station we owned in Fort Lauderdale.
The next step is acting on our thoughts. On that topic, Vincent Van Gogh said, “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”