It is axiomatic, however good you are at selling, you will sell nothing unless you can find your way to the decision maker. The good news about the London Hatton Garden/Smithfield territory was that it was a warren of small businesses. Small businesses are run by decision makers. They all had copying machines though. Mostly crap maybe. Wasteful, funny papers and so on; but, to them, copying machines were an old story, a problem already solved. You, the seller, had first to get in front of them; and then to persuade them the sooner they binned the machine they had just bought, the better off they would be. Sounds simple.
The trick to successful speciality selling is to have a high new call rate. These are calls to a new or existing customer where new business is discussed for the first time only. Covering the ground in the Hatton Garden/Smithfield warren effectively meant cold calls. It helped to see the place. Starting at one end of the street and working your way down to the other end. Every business a cold call. Everytime you got to the decision maker a new call; and, where you didn’t, you had a number to phone for an new call appointment. One call I went straight through to the decsion maker. “Hello. My name is Philip Lund. I’m from Rank Xerox. Would you like one?” “Yes” came the reply “I do want one. But first give me the pleasure of selling it too me.” Possibly one of the most difficult sales I have ever made. I could only lose it.
Management support to the sales effort at Rank Xerox was excellent. Vans brought in the demonstration machines. We stumbled up narrow stairs with them. Even if we left them for a day, people had found a hundred more things to copy on them, far more than they ever copied before. Minimum contract volumes were seldom an issue.
At St Paul’s we had a demo facility. With Xerox, the image was sealed on to the paper with heat. Our scripted demonstration left gaps ‘to sell the magic of the machine’. If the copy did not appear to schedule, we would move to another machine while the demo lady doused the incipient fire.
It was all excitement. There were plenty of laughs. But, above all, there was the thrill of the chase. I ran between meetings. I always took the risk the decision maker was working late, after reception had gone home!