My biggest sale almost didn’t happen

How the client actually sold my services to himself

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My most memorable sale was made…by the client himself! To himself! On my behalf! His name was Darius Irani, an executive with a manufacturing giant on the West Coast. I was just starting on my own as a solopreneur and was thrilled to have landed a contract with this company. I was providing a training program dealing with effective communications and he was my of my “students.”

On the last of the ten sessions, I went through the usual closure. I summarized the main points. I told them what they should do to engage in continuous learning. I passed out the evaluation forms. I collected them and directed them to the training department. I packed up. I said good-bye. I left.

As I approached the guard station to turn in my security badge, I heard a voice behind me. Darius stopped me with a question: “Why are you leaving?” And then and there (for all the world to hear), he gave me a much-deserved lecture. “Why aren’t you stopping by my desk to ask about future needs? To share your insights about our skill levels? To sell me more training programs? Your problem, Marlene”–he spoke with the authority executives possess–“is that you have only excellence. But excellence is not enough. You need hype and you have none. If you want to succeed in business,” he advised me, “you need equal amounts of both!”

With that, he strode away. The guard had the kindness to avert his eyes and pretend he hadn’t heard my comeuppance. And I? I rushed back to the office, called Mr. Irani, and asked about his future needs. I shared my insights about skills levels. I sold him another training program.

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