In my last blog article, I recalled a story from the early days of Proforma, and how a client’s request for 12 spiral rings led to earning a million-dollar customer with 50 percent gross profit. Here’s a story of another million dollar win.
Back in those early years building Proforma, my practice was to get up at 5:00 a.m. and go to the gym. I’d play racquetball with a good friend at 5:30 a.m., workout at 6:30 a.m., go home and shower, have a cup of coffee while reading the local newspaper and Wall Street Journal, and then head to the office.
On one of those mornings, I read an article about a local national defense contractor headquartered in the Cleveland area that I had been trying to sell to for years. I called on the executive in charge of procurement about every six months, and always got the same answer:
“We are happy with our current supplier, but feel free to keep in touch.”
That morning, the article was about how this defense contractor was announcing a “Make it in Cleveland” program. This company made torpedoes, and the article was a call to all local manufacturers that could make parts for their torpedoes. The name of the person in charge of the “Make it in Cleveland” program was listed in the article. It was a different person than the procurement person whom I had been calling on for years.
When I arrived at my office I called the company. To my surprise, the person in charge of the program took my call. I introduced myself, said some nice things about their new program and asked if the program included printing and promotions (I was aware that their primary supplier was in Kansas City). He was caught off guard by the question and stumbled a bit. Then I heard him call out to someone across the room and asked if the new program would also include printing and promotions. The person answered back to him, “Why not?” He similarly replied to me, “Why not?” and told me to come in for an appointment.
During our face-to-face appointment he let me know we were the only printing and promotions supplier to call in response to the article. He invited me to do an analysis of their current suppliers, their locations and pricing, and to submit a proposal. Within a month, I had secured a $1 million dollar contract at a contractual cost, plus 100 percent mark-up with that company—and it had all begun with reading one news article.
I’ve wondered from time to time what would have happened if I had never read that article. The good news for all sellers in today’s new digital world is that you never have to miss articles about your customers and prospects. Google offers a free service called “Google Alerts” that allows you to sign up for free updates about companies and/or people whenever they are in the news.
If you’re not paying attention to what’s going on in the news with your clients, prospects and even your competition, you are missing out on incredibly valuable opportunities. There is a wealth of free, easy to access information out there, and it just might be the key to your next million-dollar deal.