I liked your “Sales Challenge” answers so much that I am going to make “Sales Challenge” a regular part of this blog in the future. Great ideas from everyone!

Here’s the rest of the story…

The team improvised. The second-in-command eel exhibited classic “I don’t want to be here” body-language: he was slouching, his arms were crossed. He didn’t even bother to cinch up his tie when he came to the meeting. He could not have tried harder to project the “I’m here because I have to be, not because I want to be. Make it fast” attitude.

The first thing the sales team tried to do was break the ice and ask some questions about what the eel wanted. Nothing doing. He simply said, “Just make the presentation like you would if John Doe was here.”

Without much to go on, the team tried to change the expectations. Team: “John Doe’s not here, so the objective of the meeting is different. In fact, it’s wide open now and the presentation may not even be valuable. Let’s talk for a moment about the area we are looking at, what goals you have in that area and what you consider to be some of the pain points.” They got a little bit more out of him here, but not much. The eel was still closed off and defensive.

Third, the team tried to befriend the eel. Team: “Considering the time the team has been in place and what your group is trying to accomplish, our analysis is favorable. Some of these results are probably in line with things you are already addressing.” Even as the team presented high-level results, we’re got nowhere. The problem was that we were now all-in. We opened up the dialogue about the presentation, so we had to make the presentation. Calculated risk. I would like to say it paid off, but it didn’t.

We pitched the presentation, left copies of it and promised to follow-up. The team’s email to the eel’s boss (our AWOL first-in-command) to set up a conference call to review the results was brushed aside with a perfunctory email response: “Thanks so much for the report. It is very thorough. I don’t think a call is necessary at this time. I’ll review your recommendations and get back to you.”
Dead stuck.

Mistakes in our approach? A bunch. I’ll give the short-list:

1. We didn’t make a same-day appointment confirmation call with the most important person in the pitch to make certain he would be there.
2. We didn’t call the meeting off when we found out that the sponsoring executive was not going to be there.
3. We pitched the one guy who had the most to lose and then let him pitch the one person who had the most to gain without us.
4. We had not involved the eel early enough in the sales process to have gotten some level of buy-in or fear-reduction before we started the entire sales process that culminated in this presentation of results and opportunity to propose our solution.

There are more, but I think these are at the top of the list.

You have all been very helpful with what should have been done differently.

I now have a different challenge for you. What should the hunt team do next?

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