Thirty days over (sales) hell…

Todd SchnickOk, so this silly post title was stolen from the film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. And as you might expect, the essay has NOTHING to do with the movie.

I just thought it was a cool post title.

But that said, it still is kinda relevant to the message I want to convey.

First, read the following two communications from the same prospectsent thirty days apart:

[the names were changed to protect the innocent]:

December, 2013
“We LOVE what you are offering, and we know deep down that what your team does can have an amazing impact on our trade show experience for prospects. While your project still needs final approval, we have formally added this to our 2014 marketing budgets!”

January, 2014
“We regret to inform you that we’ve had a change in leadership, which required us to recalculate and reduce our 2014 marketing budgets. Unfortunately, we will no longer be able to consider your services as part of our trade show experience.”

Now, the film mentioned above was about the Doolittle raid over Tokyo, which was America’s first response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. If you are student of history, you the know the raid was largely symbolic.

A successful mission, yes. But in the big picture, just a pin prick.

One solo bombing run over Tokyo was not going to impact the course of a world war, but it was going to send an important message.

And that message was holy moly frickin’ important.

The news/update I received today from this prospect was a lousy blow. Not unexpected in the usual course of modern business. Most sales these days are complex and full of human-ness-ness.

But the expected reaction from most vendors is to be angry, to blow it off, to cross it off the list with malice, to vent and express vitriol, and burn bridges.

Trust me, we’ve all been there.

But this is the PERFECT opportunity for your own “Doolittle raid.”

Do the unexpected. Respond. With purpose. With intent. Offer to still help, offer to provide counsel to make their business better. Do what they aren’t expecting you to do.

And like the Doolittle crewmen, you will send an important message.

And it is this message that you send that will lay the groundwork for a future business opportunity.

I might have lost today with this prospect. But I’ve already fired some positive shots across their bow they weren’t expecting.

I won’t lose tomorrow.

Remember, someone in their organization already sees value in what I offer.

They will just see the benefits tomorrow instead of today….


To learn more about my take on sales, check out my book: The Zen of Sales!

  • Doug Herbert

    That’s a great way to look at the situation, Todd. I would likely feel a little angry that they didn’t choose Me. Your way of looking at it and offering to help in any way is a much better, long-term – lose the battle, win the war – strategy. Thank you. I will remember this and use it.

  • Todd Schnick

    Good. And I promise to continue to work on it myself…