John Way is one of the original owners of Rainbow Information Systems and Think! IT. He has worked in the IT industry since 1994 in management and sales roles. Way now manages the IT and telephony sales team at Think! IT and is responsible for maintaining the overall excellence of sales service.
What’s your best and worst experience of cold calling?
Best was the chap I called 15 minutes after he had a shouting match with his incumbent, and gave me a $15K order after four minutes of conversation. Worst was the guy who had a heart attack (and subsequently died) while we were talking.
What’s your most successful tip for cold calling?
These days I get more cold calls than I make, so I speak from the ‘other side’. Get the relevance of your call into the first 20 seconds of the conversation and check early on that you are talking to the right person. Don’t faff about with discussions of the weather and enquiries after their health.
Is money your only motivator for being successful?
The cash is a definite bonus. But there is also the respect of one’s peers and the knowledge of having added value to the business of both your customers and your employers.
What’s the most useful tip you can give to a struggling salesperson?
In this industry, it would be to understand and believe in the business value of what you are selling. If you cannot do that you are in the wrong company or the wrong job.
What percentage do you consider your personality contributes to your success, compared to the product and the company?
Well after 17 years here I think my personality and the company have achieved a degree of alignment - neither of us are sure if that is a good thing! But seriously, the real differentiators between business offerings in this game are fairly subtle and people buy from people. So a salesperson’s personality goes a long way to the success or failure of a bid.
Most sales people have some experience of other jobs, what’s yours?
I trained to be an archaeologist. My most sustained post-university job was as a debt-collector and then a credit manager. I actually joined this business last century to do the accounts!
Do you ever consider changing your career?
Usually on Monday afternoons.
Does the pressure to hit your monthly or quarterly targets ever make you stressed?
Of course! If it's never stressful your targets are too soft.
How would you sum up the craft of sales in one sentence to an outsider?
The craft of business to business selling lies in identifying a need, quantifying its cost to the customer and then articulating the benefit of your offering so that they can clearly perceive the value in following your suggestion.
How long does it take you to assess how you should approach your sales pitch?
Well obviously this varies a lot with circumstances, but in face to face encounters usually about 30 seconds
Have you ever put your foot in it when talking to a client?
Now that I am old and wise, this only happens about once a month.
How did you get past the point of struggling to make a sale to where you are today?
I learned to believe in what I say, which is easier if you say what you believe.