Ad Agency New Business Starts with Confidence

To be successful, a good new business hunter needs to feel their boss' confidence
by Todd Knutson

Faye Hyman died six months ago after losing her battle with cancer.

I met Faye in 1997. When I took my new position, Faye was on probation, facing the loss of her job if her numbers didn't improve.

In this new role I had 40 direct reports in a severely under-performing sales organization. I had to quickly determine who was good, and who wasn't. Anyone on probabtion was on my short list to be fired.

One thing I knew, however, was that the easiest way to determine if a sales person is any good it to listen to them. If they prospect over the phone, record their calls and listen to them; if they network in-person, join them at their meetings, soley to watch and listen. (You'll be amazed at what you learn.)

So, I listened to Faye's sales calls and in-person meetings. I saw that she:

  • Established rapport with her prospects
  • Asked open-ended questions to determine their needs
  • Identified and discussed ways we could help
  • Set a next action, or asked for the sale - as appropriate

In a word, she was excellent. Her process was consultative sales by-the-book, flawless. The only thing she was missing was self-confidence. The look on her face and the way she carried herself made you feel that she was beaten down, almost like a dog that's been repeatedly kicked by it's owner. I immediately took her off probation.

Just two years later in 1999, Faye became a President's Club member. I believe she was then ranked #3 out of more than 200 sales colleagues. She continued that run for years, and then became a national sales trainer, teaching hundreds of others how to be truly professional sales people, in the best sense of the word.

I spoke to Faye for the last time a few days after a group of friends, colleagues and former colleagues held a party in her honor. She expressed optimism in her full recovery, and then said,

All that I achieved I owe to the confidence you showed in me.

Everything Faye achieved was the result of her own ability; she just needed to be released from the chain attached to her by her former boss so she could live up to her full potential.

What a lesson for all managers of ad agency new business people!

A good salesperson is always striving for attention; if you beat them down they will almost always underperform. The confidence you show in them, and they feel, may be the boost they need to achieve their potential.



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