Persistence Beats Talent. A Real Case Study.

One of my favorite movies is Wall Street, and there’s a scene where Bud Fox has finally scored a meeting with the Wall Street Tycoon Gordon Gecko – and Gordo opens the conversation with, “This is the kid.  Calls me 59 days in a row, wants to be a player. Oughta be a picture of you in the dictionary under ‘Persistence’, kid.”

Desire.  Will.  Persistence.  Grit.  Whatever you want to call it…it’s a lost art.  All sellers think they have it, but most don’t.  Allow me to introduce you to one person I’ve had the pleasure to work with in my career who truly defines persistence.  To help set the stage, he’s super-wealthy.  Not from inheritance, lottery, or marrying…all from a 20-year career selling software.  A lot of software.

The storyboard requires foundation and backdrop, and it begins with a customer who’s about to go live on our main product.  He’s positioned an add-on, which in the grand scheme is a small deal.  He has solutioned the stack, provided pricing, delivered high level business case, and framed a compelling event.  At an Exec Steering committee meeting where CFO, CAO, and CIO were in attendance, where the objective of meeting was to outline where the go-live of our main product stands, he finds the project is late and customer will miss their Q3 close.  A VERY disappointed CFO makes it crystal clear that 100% of everyone’s attention remain on this initiative at all costs…NO exceptions.  What’s interesting is, the add-on purchase was not only “off-budget cycle,” but was only positioned and presented within the past 30 days.  Given the steering committee meeting and CFO’s tone, most would think there’s virtually a <5% chance.

Within minutes, he was cornering the CIO in the hallway asking about add-on.  CIO kindly but sternly reminded us this was not the time to inquire.  Obviously.  The <5% chance now went to less than zero.  However, he went back the next day, day after, day after that…and so on.  He pressed, prodded, gathered evidence, more data and inundated them with value.  Then, I was in rep’s office when we received an email from the CAO saying (transposed) – you’re too expensive, decision is too rushed, too many other priorities (ie a Go Live)…so net net…no deal.  He replied to CAO and Dir of Audit with a simple phrase:  “I believe this solution is the right thing for your business at this time…I don’t want to push too hard, but I’m passionate about this.”  Within 5 minutes, Dir of Audit calls him and asks, “can we buy only a portion of your stack?”  The rep held his price and went on to close the deal.  So many best practices here…but let me summarize with:
1.  Persistence trumps talent.  ALWAYS!

  1. He earned the right to push.  He fights hard for his customers’ well-being.  And they know it.  So when he asked them to re-consider, they listened.
  2. To keep his deal ABOVE the revenue line, he kept his price and added another module for them at the buzzard…so they felt like they were getting something.
  3. C-suite interactions were early and often.  He commands this (see bullet 2) and demands this.  He couldn’t have pulled this deal off without breaking budget process with a CAO relationship.
  4. He found and framed a compelling event.
  5. He out-worked his customer.  There were no questions to ask because he gave him all the information beforehand.  The decision was already an informed one.  This builds trust.  Proactive selling at its finest.

Give me a rep with persistence and I’ll take her over the one with talent all day.

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