There is no win-win in sales….

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At least not in my world; and there is no crying in baseball so you can take that to the bank.

Want to know how my December started? 

I got fired.

Seriously.

Not from my job, but from a customer. A ten-year customer no less.

Out of the blue; I had been positioning myself to pick up another line of coverage we don’t currently write for them and next thing I know I’m getting a call telling me I’ve been fired, they gave my policy to someone else.

Say what?

Don’t you know who I am? 

What happened?

My customer was one of four defendants in a 6-year old suit finally coming to mediation. Their customer, the lead claimant and who they have a 30-year relationship with, essentially strong-armed them trying to get them to agree to a settlement; or they would fire them.

The problem?

My customer was not at fault and their insurance company I placed them with was more than generous to even offer a settlement to help preserve the relationship my insured had with their customer. But it wasn’t enough.

You can be right, and you can be dead right.

I feel our insurance company did more than they were legally obligated to do. And if we go to court this will be proven out. However, if we go to trial, regardless of the outcome, my customer is being told by their customer they will never work for this company again.

Ouch.

I know all the parties on both sides of this opportunity so on the surface, just find a way to make it work, huh Dorman?

What did you do wrong?

In my eyes, nothing. All the right players were in place and this claim was being handled not only well, but better than expected.

But not in the eyes of my customer. He thought I should have done more.

He fired me.

Ho, ho, ho; Merry Christmas

The good news when we get fired like this mid-term, we actually have a 10-day grace period to get them to change their mind.

Fortunately there was a cooling off period and through several phone calls and being able to tell the rest of the story; on the 10th day we were back in.

Do you really have the stomach for this?

That was only one story; January 1 is our biggest renewal date and December is our busiest month leading up to this date. I had two other top-10 accounts potentially going bye-bye as well.

Ho, ho, ho; Merry Christmas.

The good news is, not only did I retain both but actually grew them as well. Essentially, I will be getting a raise on each.

However, the reality is in my world, in order for me to write a new account, somebody has to get fired. While I might be savoring the thrill of victory; somebody else is crying in their beer because they just got fired.

Been there, done that on both sides; I know the feelings quite well.

So there is no win-win; I either write the account or I don’t. If I don’t, it’s like being complimented on a nice putt that doesn’t go in. I’ve had enough practice in my time, coming close but no cigar does me no good.

The moral of the story?

Whereas there was a particular time in this month of December there was a good chance I was going to be getting kicked squarely between the legs; I didn’t get too high or too low and just did the best we could, which ended up being good enough…this time.

I’m in this business because I truly like helping people. For those who see me as just a salesman, shame on me for not telling my story and aligning myself with like-minded customers.

Sales can look very easy on the outside looking in but let me assure you it’s not for the faint at heart; especially when your income each and every month is 100% commission. I have no guaranteed salary…..ever.

I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else; except maybe being a sportswriter and/or having a sports radio talk show. But that’s another story…..

How well do you sell yourself? What is your brand? If someone asks your friends what you do; what will their response be?

If people don’t know exactly what you do; why would they utilize your services or refer you to others?

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

I will close with this; just remember what happens when you assume anything. Something about a donkey’s butt and you and me; and it usually doesn’t end well.

The end.

Seriously.

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47 thoughts on “There is no win-win in sales….

  1. Great story Bill. There is something to be said for the “must do” in order to survive. We are all generally in the same type of boat but yours just seems to be much smaller and has no assistance to move it forward. I clearly understand it’s a tough business and not for the feign of heart. Your attitude is certainly your success factor or so it seems.

    I often wonder what is in the air some weeks. I visited Barrett’s site and Craig McBreen’s site this week and I have a post coming out tomorrow that covers a somewhat similar subject. Both Barrett and Craig took different approached (duh) but the messaging was similar or so my odd head drew parallels to. With all this great writing how can a guy go wrong?

    Cheers Bill, great to see you back.

    • Guess I better check all three out, huh? Visiting all the posts has been the one area I haven’t caught back up on yet. Still wading through December, but should be smooth sailing from here.

      Hope all is well and thanks for the visit sir.

  2. You know, I’ve never really thought of it that way, but you’re so right. There is NOT any win-win, because there’s always someone who’s losing. I know you put it in the context of sales, but that’s pretty much the case anywhere, huh? And I’m glad you got your client back.

    • Sales, like social can be very fickle at times. Sometimes when we get fired we think we did nothing wrong but usually when we dig deep enough there was something there we could have done better. Trust me, we have plenty of ‘learning’ experiences in this business; hopefully, we learn enough not to repeat the same mistakes, right?

      So good to see you; I hope all is well back in your own business. Happy holidays to ya….

    • Ab so lute ly…..

      I’m competitive and certainly like to win but it has never been about the money for me; always the relationship. Take care of that and everything else seems to fall into place.

      Sometimes you just have to keep your eye on the ball.

      Good to see you.

    • Sometimes you just have to ask, but sometimes we are hesitant to because we aren’t sure we want to hear the answer.

      Fortunately, I have it on cruise control the rest of the month now.

  3. Wow, Bill. I really admire how you didn’t quit when you were kicked in the gut. Most people would have been reeling, but you re-grouped and got back in the fight. You’re a winner and that’s someone I want to have on my side. I would hire you in a New York minute.

    Yes, there are winners and losers, but sometimes when you expand customers’ coverage, then there are no losers, only winners, right?

    Congrats on your victory and to your customer for calming down enough to see the error of his ways.

    • Can’t a grown man cry?…:)

      Because of the fickleness sometimes it can get frustrating. However, when you look at the overall body of work there are many, many more gratifying days than not. The other good thing is, I can always go out and write new business…..sometimes easier said than done but certainly ‘doable.’

      So good to see you ma’am; I hope you have been doing well.

  4. I really love sales. And your story really drives home the fact that ultimately sales is about relationships. You were able to repair the damage, reassure the client, and then upsell your services. That’s GREAT customer service and a testament to the relationship that you have nurtured over the course of the last decade. No shame in that!

  5. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to keep driving a business forward… there is no other direction that ‘s acceptable.

    As a business owner, if you can’t sell on top of everything else that comes along with running a successful business, you’re at a sever disadvantage in the marketplace… And especially in the business you’re in Bill.

    Not only do you need to be able to sell your a_s off to those you employ, and the customers you serve – but you have the substance that holds all of these relationships together. This is a unique gift that only those at the top of their game possess.

    It may look easy, but keeping a business on track is anything but easy… It takes a unique breed here.

    I think I saw a crack in the big smile you usually bring with your posts… kinda like seein’ ya sweat, haha!

    Cheers, Bill!

    • I just thought I was Teflon….I believe that dog got a bite out of my shorts after all, huh?

      Always a work in progress and constant vigilance; that’s why it is so important to stay relevant and always growing.

      Thanks for your two-cents sir; always appreciated.

  6. Bill,

    After the last post I read here I thought I wouldn’t be seeing you again or at least for a while. Glad you posted!

    I couldn’t be in big time sales like that. My husband is the IT computer guy for a commercial real estate company and those guys are ruthless! I just couldn’t do it. I know I would be selling something you need but the pressure to keep up sales and all the drama that you just described, I just would crumble. 🙂

    Glad you got a good ending!

    ~Allie

    • I’m still a work in progress; we’ll have to see where it goes…..

      I know the hard charging ruthless sales people and I’ve lost to them a time or two. For me however, my success is more relationship driven and aligning with people who appreciate what we can do to help their business, not just sell them an insurance policy. Those are the ones who become long-term customers….I just need to find more of them….:).

      So good to see you; I hope all is well on the left coast. I guess you will have kids under foot again for the holidays, huh?

  7. At the nd of the day, and the day after Christmas, we are in control of nothing but our attitude and our will to see the possibility in things. I love the feeling of my eyes opening first thing in the morning when I suddenly know I’ve been given another day. Another day to do my best at looking discouragement in the face and watching it fade into the distance. Quite fun. HA! At least that’s what I tell myself.
    What a great dream to have- having a talk show. I can picture that. Merry Christmas!

    • All we can truly control is our attitude and emotions. The key is to put yourself in positions where it leans to the positive and not the negative, right?

      Squeezing the max out of each and every day is a good thing indeed; Merry Christmas to you too ma’am.

  8. Hey Bill,

    Glad the situation worked out for you this time around. I like what you said here. “How well do you sell yourself? What is your brand? If someone asks your friends what you do; what will their response be? If people don’t know exactly what you do; why would they utilize your services or refer you to others?” Such is the plight of the online business owner who doesn’t have a sales background. Then we must learn. You are selling yourself or your services so you need to make sure that people really understand what those things are. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Especially those of us in sales, because for some reason we don’t want people to think we are a ‘salesperson’ for heavens sake, huh?

      We bring so, so much more to the relationship than just selling a policy; that just happens to be the way I will usually get paid.

      I need to do a better job of letting people know exactly what I do instead of ‘just insurance’ because then you attract any cat and dog that comes in the yard. I’m not that guy……..:).

      Hope all is well; so good to see you.

  9. I disagree somewhat. I think there IS a win-win. It’s not a win for you and a win for your competitor, it’s a win for you and your customer. And that’s true in every business, I guess.

    I don’t think it’s a zero-sum game. It’s a game where you “add value.” Those that don’t add value get fired, and those that add value get hired. That’s how things are supposed to work. Like you said, shame on you if the client doesn’t understand the value you bring — you really do need to remind them once in a while.

    On another point: <> That’s a topic that deserves a lot of thought, actually, and a lot of space. Maybe I’ll blog about it.

    I’m really glad your blogging, and I’m glad your blogging about your work. I find it interesting and valuable.

      • This is the one area I need to improve; almost all know I’m in ‘insurance,’ but I have a very defined ‘ideal’ customer and if you are calling GEICO, you ain’t my type….:).

    • And to drill down even further, you can bring all this value and quantify the results to the business owner AND they still feel compelled to shop you. That’s when you start looking for customers that’s a better fit.

      Fickle indeed at times.

      Even though I can give the impression I just show up, I really do work pretty hard for my customers.

  10. good on you for retaining the account — cooler heads prevailing and all of that. i do struggle to explain to others about my day job, and many assume it is something it is not. a nice reminder that if i don’t breach that gap, they may assume i am the donkey’s butt 🙂

    • Pam.I.am so great to see you. Most people assume because I’m in insurance I do it all A-Z. The reality is, I have a fairly narrow target audience and they usually pay a good chunk of change in premium; we aren’t giving them the discount double check….therefore, I need to be more purposeful with my 30-sec commercial so they at least know what a good fit would look like.

      I hope all is well; as you might have surmised I am still on somewhat of a hiatus but slowly working my way back. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

  11. Oh yes, assumptions can get you in trouble all the time. Most salespeople do love helping other people, that’s why we remain in sales. Those that are not don’t quite understand it. They think we are just pushy people. Not quite true, right? It’s more about relationships and the love for the products we sell. Glad your situation there worked out in the end Bill.

    • Of course, you want to be so compelling and persuasive you don’t have to make the ‘hard’ ask and it’s obvious you will be doing business together, right? However, if you never make the ask, don’t be disappointed if you don’t get the opportunity or the sale.

      December started out partly cloudy,but has cleared considerably since then.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

  12. Hey Bill

    That could have been an interesting Christmas. I’m glad your client saw what they would be missing if they dropped you!

    I don’t envy you being in sales, although I know it fits some people just right and you’re one of them. I would enjoy the relationship side of things but working purely on commission would be a scary prospect.

    I don’t sell myself that well to be honest and I’m not sure many people that I know offline even know that I have a blog. At the moment, my mates would say I’m on holiday all the time looking after the kids I’d guess!

    That said, I’m getting to know some people and working hard to create a community on my blog. I’ve not thought of branding but that will have to be something i think about for the future.

    Have a great weekend Bill and I’m glad things worked out.

    • Hey Tim, funny you mention about your friends not even knowing you blog. I ran into someone at a networking event last night and told him about my son coming to work for our firm. My friend asked if my son was going to blog too. He then further stated he reads my blog. I would have never guessed…..go figure, huh?

      There is a fine line in being confident and broadcasting I suppose; sometimes it’s hard to keep tooting your own horn. However, if people don’t know what you do, and these are some of the people who can help you most, how do they know how to refer you?

      So good to see you sir; hope you have a great weekend as well.

  13. That was a fantastic story and I would totally listen to you call games on the radio.
    I worked for GEICO for a number of years and though I wasn’t in sales for more than one of it, I learned a bit about insurance. It is a tough game and the people who excel at it are amazing salesmen, but even more than that, they are amazing people people. The bottom line is insurance helps alleviate fear. Just buying insurance can be frightening, because it acknowledges that bad days do happen.
    I’m so pleased your story had a happy ending. Well done!

    • Hey Brian, thanks for the kind words. It can be a roller coaster at times, but definitely more good days than bad. When you get fired it’s hard not to equate it to your wallet and what you need to do to replace it. However, I never go into any relationship focused on how much money I’m going to make. I go in on how I can help them and everything else will take care of itself.

      Yes, I did lose a little sleep, but all is good now.

      I hope you have a great weekend.

  14. Bill, First, glad you saved the account! Kudos.

    I think the challenge is in your title. I agree with Barrett; I think there is definitely a win-win in sales. You provide value; they pay you appropriately for it. I think where there is not a win-win is in competition. You’re right; if you get the sale (or keep the sale) some salesperson at the company down the street is crying in their cheerios.

    Liking the business stuff! Now, get back to Mon/Thu so I’ll know when you post. 🙂

    • Hey Adam, thanks for stopping by; still trying to figure out my new ‘sweet spot.’ I think in the next few weeks I will find my comfort zone…..

      Hope all is well and hope to see you soon.

  15. I can’t even believe that they would want to mess with Bill. The most honest guy they will ever have the opportunity to work with and save their asses more times then they probably care to count. Ah, I knew you’d real them back in Bill. It was probably your charm! Or, just the God’s honest truth right!

    That’s definitely why “you” matter to all those people out there. If you aren’t authentic and caring you might as well take a number and just get in line because you’ll definitely be falling in the back of a lot of other people.

    Great job Bill!

    ~Adrienne

    • Oops, don’t know if I hit publish before I was finished.

      The challenge is staying in tune w/ the different dynamics and potential new relationships or others that might be brought into the mix. You just do what you can and hope you are paying attention.

      Good to see you; thanks for the drive-by.

  16. Hi Bill,
    I can’t think of a time where building relationships didn’t help a salesman. Those relationships are the difference between the one off and the long term opportunity where both sides benefit.

    I have been in your shoes and it sucks to lose the deal, but I have been the guy who got them back too because of that relationship. When you build trust it enables you to make the call or meeting to explain why the customer should stay or come back. It is not always easy because people don’t always act based upon logic or rational thought.

  17. The relationship helps open the door; your performance once you are in the door will typically determine the longevity of the customer. However, because some business owners are so ‘busy’ running their business it’s hard to get them to take the time to raise their head above the weeds and do the little things that reduces the threats to their business. When this happens, it’s too easy to find yourself on the outside looking in and then you are at the mercy of too many variables that can get you fired. Just like any relationship, it is a work in progress….always.

    Good to see you sir.

  18. This is a truly great post Bill. Well, all of your posts are, but this is one I can relate to in the situation I am right now. When I worked at the University, every single person at the University knew my name and what my job was (well, maybe not every single person, but many). Now, I’m having a hard time telling people what I’m doing. I’m marketing, I’m doing seo, I’m doing social, I’m doing strategy etc.. I’m doing everything, and that’s not a good thing. So, I better start focusing on explaining my work in a single sentence or something, this way it will be easier to get people to understand who I am and what I can do for them. And from your story, it seems that you’re actually doing that very well, even though you got fired in the first place 🙂

    • Hola my friend of spam; I don’t know why you keep getting hung up in there…..

      If you can explain what you do in 30-seconds or less and your audience ‘gets it’ and they can see if it will benefit them, then you are way ahead of the game. If it’s kind of nebulous then you might have a harder time being able to get started with them to really show how awesome you are.

      The other key is to be genuine with it.

      Good to see you Jens, hope all is well.

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