My mom is about as far away from being a sales rep as it gets. Well, at least the perception of what most people think a sales rep is (Boiler Room, Glengary Glen Ross). I won’t give up her age just in case she reads this (Hi Mom 🙂 but let’s just say she’s well into retirement even though you would never know it. What she did recently reminded me there is no real secret to sales success. It’s all about hard work and focus.
She works at a Performing Art Center in VA as an Executive Assistant and Board Liaison to help pass the time. A while ago she got an idea to leverage the Art center to help support Veterans. There are a lot of details that I won’t go into but the major theme is to help Veterans through music and performing arts by combining the Arts Center, George Mason University, and the Veteran community. She started by working to gather all the relevant information about the various programs, funding, target market, existing resources, etc. and kept it all in a binder that she carried around with her. She then identified the major players/influencers that she would need to get involved to make something like this happen and thoughtfully reached out to each of them for their feedback and potential buy-in. Because of her preparation and the homework she did, her message was directly relevant and interesting to each person she reached out to. They all responded and were more than willing to meet and during the meetings their feedback on her idea was overwhelmingly positive.
After she got all the pieces and influencers in place she led the coordination of an event that would effectively act as the kick-off for the larger Veterans and the Arts Initiative as well as a gauge to see how much interest there would be from the Veteran community. The event was held at the Arts Center and would feature Veterans who played in bands along with all the vendors and resources available to Veterans. Here are the details of the event on the Event Calendar for the Art Center. In order to help promote the event and find Veterans and Vendors to participate she did her research and developed a list of 200 potential influencers in the Veterans community. She then reached out to each one of them independently with a tailored message asking for their participation and support along with help spreading the word.
I remember talking with her the day before the event and she said she was expecting about 200 people to be there from vendors and the various contributors to the event but had no idea how many actual Veterans were going to show up. She hoped she would get more Veterans than vendors but since this was a free/open house event with no registration she was going to have to wait until the event to find out how many would show up. Well, they did and in a big way. Over 500 Veterans showed up to the event and it was an incredible success all the way around. So much so they are already planning multiple events to be held throughout the year and she has transitioned her role to be the Coordinator for the Veterans and the Arts Initiative.
The reason I decided to write about this is to prove that you don’t have to be a slick sales rep or have any real formal training or experience to be successful in Sales. You need a few key things:
- A belief in what you do or what you are “selling”
- A clear understanding of your target audience and the value you/your solution provides them
- A targeted approach that includes research and relevance
- A work ethic to go out and make it happen
I’ve been blessed in my life to have two incredible parents who have shown me what it takes to be successful, mainly through their actions and how they approach everything they do. I didn’t appreciate this as much when I was younger but the older I get the more I realize what an impact they’ve had on my life and my career. With examples like this one they continue to show me the way even after all these years.
Make it happen!