1,000,000-Watt Proposal

By Brent W. Timm

Sometimes you wonder if old-fashioned follow-up is enough. As sales manager for an electrical supplies and equipment company, I had been trying to land a very large account for six or eight months – with no luck. I left every message I could think of on voice mail. I mailed off every piece of available literature. I extended every possible lunch invitation. I memorized all of the names of the purchasing agent’s children; I knew what car he drove, what his hobbies were and what his favorite professional sports teams were. Still, I could not close the deal.

I was not alone. Other salespeople had found this account equally elusive in the past. I did not want to be just another statistic at the office, especially after all the bantering that had gone on once I accepted the challenge of nailing down this trophy, so I put my creative mind to work and this is what I came up with.

After all the months of going back and forth with the purchasing agent’s personal secretary, we had developed a pretty good relationship. I found out what radio station the buyer listened to and put my plan into action. After only a few calls to the station, I persuaded the disc jockey to let me make my proposal live on the air during the lunch hour when I knew the buyer would be listening. Then, from the comfort of my own office, I checked with his secretary to make sure it was all a go and let my proposal fly live on the air via my telephone. In 10 minutes my phone rang and two weeks later I was sitting in his office ironing out the final details on a $250,000-a-year deal – all because I simply refused to think like everyone else.