Monday, February 17, 2014

Learn, Plan, Persist and Take Risks!

There is nothing worst than being persistent with a business prospect without first learning and planning your approach.    

I was a senior corporate salesman and was basically charged with getting large enterprise accounts to buy professional certification training and degree programs. Verizon was one of my prospects who were really careful about outside training organizations who didn't understand their business model.  I realized if I was to develop a training partnership with them, I had to learn their business.  I learned about their fiber optic installation; I met and traveled with their line installers, I met and dined with their buying influences and chief decision makers eight or nine times.  It actually worked and I just kept learning, planning and persisting, waiting for an opportunity to arise.

One day, after about one year, Verizon realized they didn't have the training capacity to meet the demand of a $7 billion fiber deployment project across the US.  The deployment luckily started in the same territory that I was located in.  That was our opening.  Verizon decided to use us. We got the contract, and we eventually delivered this training across other areas of the US for about 3 years. The main decision maker and myself became good friends in the end.

It must have been worth close to $3 million dollars and the best thing about it was that, at that time, our partnership trained hundreds of technicians.  More importantly, the training increased resident scheduled visits from 1 to 2 residents per day and increased sales by 350% in the regions where the training was deployed.  On the value side, together our ground-breaking training across the US provided training cost reductions of over 120% compared to our competitors.

I'm not suggesting there is any justice in spending the amount time it took in learning about one business, and I probably bypassed some other prospect opportunities in the process.  But it was so good for the company that after one year of work, which could well have ended in failure, instead developed trust and a bit of luck ending in success that really paid off.

In getting any big deal or project, the first thing you have to do is want it. For example, you're never going to be golfer unless in your heart - you want it and in your mind - you can learn it.  These two eventually compete with one another.  So you have to really want it (heart) and you have to know how to play (mind), at least a little :-).  If you want something badly enough, you're going to have to learn it.  If you are working with a technology company, you're going to try an learn about technology and networking even if it doesn't come naturally to you, and you're going to do one thing that is probably the most important of all; you're going to take a risk.  Because if you've spent thousands of working hours, let's say over a year and you fail, you've probably damaged your career a bit and you've probably damaged, in a small way, the company you worked for a bit.  Another reason in being prepared to reduce the risk.

I sometimes fail...  Everybody does, but I certainly do.  But I don't give up if I learn and understand the prospect, if I can identify a problem or opportunity to work on and I think it's good for the organization.


  • The bigger the risk, the bigger the opportunity.
  • You must learn along the way, be prepared to do some things that come unnaturally, and be prepared to take a risk.
  • To land a big deal or project, you must remain persistent.
  • You have to know, not only in your mind but also in your heart.  
  • Ultimately, if you want to succeed, "Don't Give Up!"

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