What I Learned About Sales at West Point

Last week I had the honor of speaking at the US Military Academy at West Point for one of my all-time favorite clients, West Point Thoroughbreds.

The President and CEO of West Point Thoroughbreds, Terry Finley, is a West Point graduate and as a result of his connections was able to bring in a high-ranking official with the National Counterterrorism Center to tell us a bit about the advancements our country is making in fighting terrorism.

An audience member asked the speaker what keeps him up at night and he responded by saying: “I’m concerned about the challenge we currently face in identifying, understanding and preventing terrorist communications on the web”.

He explained that terrorist organizations have figured out a way to communicate on the internet that we, at this time, are having a very difficult time figuring out.

He said not only is he concerned about our ability to prevent terrorist attacks he also feels a personal responsibility to crack the code on this super important issue.

I am confident that if you had credible information on this topic you could secure a face to face meeting with this gentleman as early as next week.

I am confident that if you had the ability to demonstrate your credibility regarding this issue and were able to provide a brief explanation of the information you possess he would return your email and respond to your voice mail within 24 hours. This situation is that important to him.

This is a great “sales” example for us to learn from.

If you understand some of the things that your prospects are most concerned about, some of their objectives and business drivers you can successfully leverage that information to capture their attention. You can leverage this information via email, voice mail and in person.

The key is for you to identify meaningful information that is relative and of concern to your prospect. Then figure out how your products and services can address their concerns and help them achieve one or two of their objectives.

Your First Step:
The first place to start your search for specific information is in the industry/vertical market your prospect is in. Do some research and identify 3 trends, 3 issues, 3 threats and 3 opportunities that the industry/vertical market is experiencing.

Your second step:
Go to the prospect’s website and look for the following:

  • The products and services they sell.
  • Any comments made by the organization’s leadership that will give you insight into what they stand for.
  • Some of the customers they serve.
  • News of any new product or market initiatives.

Your 3rd and final step:
Do a Google search on the contact you would like to introduce yourself to as well as review their profile on LinkedIn.

I know what you’re thinking: “I don’t have the time to do that much research on every prospect I want to make contact with.” I understand and appreciate your concern.

Here’s how it works:
At the core of this process is a focus on specific industries/vertical markets. The time you invest up front gathering information on trends, issues, threats and opportunities can be multi-purposed and used in virtually any call to any other company in that vertical. Once you’re solid on the trends and issues in a vertical market the additional information on the company and contact can be obtained in 10 minutes.

It is important to keep in mind that prospects today are inundated with information, overwhelmed with work and do not tolerate sales people that bring zero value to emails, voice mails and conversations. This is today’s reality.

When you make contact with a prospect armed with the information I have outlined you can quickly establish credibility and will be successful in engaging the prospect in a two way business conversation. Not only will this help you significantly increase your number of appointments but you will also enjoy the process and it will elevate your self-esteem.

As you begin to do the work and embrace this attention getting strategy keep in mind how concerned and determined the Counterterrorism Center leader is when it comes to finding a solution to the terrorist web puzzle. And imagine how eager he would be to talk with you if you could help him get closer to cracking the code.

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