“If you forget to remember what you forgot, this time becomes the last time." - Greg Cieply
This was the day. The important signing day. Molly had spent 20 months on this deal from prospecting the company, researching their needs, finding the decision-makers, selling them on her solution, and then getting all the contracts in place. After enduring seemingly endless conference calls, in-person meetings, and never-ending negotiations, today she would get that final signature.
Since it was such a large deal, the client’s CEO wanted to meet with her in-person to sign and go over a few specifics. Little did she know what he had in store for her.
For any purchase over $1 million, he wanted to see the heart of the salesperson, their commitment to the company’s product, and if they believed in what they were selling. It was often worse than an interview since the questions weren’t always product related.
A friendly company VP, a champion for the deal, warned Molly about the signing meeting but didn’t fill her in completely. He walked her into the office of the CEO and quickly excused himself to take a call. Molly found herself sitting in front of the head of a multibillion-dollar company without any moral support.
She assumed the CEO’s questions would be product-related after the usual get-to-know-you discussion, but the conversation never took that path.
Holding his hands in his lap like a high school principal drilling a student to confess, the CEO asked, “You look like you’re doing well financially and this is going to be a significant deal for you, but knowing what we know about your company, why do you continue to work there and why should we buy this from you?”
Molly wasn’t expecting this at all. Everyone and everything had pointed to a clear finish line, but this could kill it.
Years ago, Molly had been embarrassed with questions on the fly and decided to learn how to overcome the unexpected.
Molly paused, took a deep breath, and repeated the question. She leaned back in her chair and folded her hands to mirror his position, and shared a quote that she memorized for occasions just like this.
In a soft tone with an even cadence, she recited the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity comes along and asks the question, is it popular? But conscience comes along and asks the question, is it right?”
Her conscience was clear. She knew without a doubt that the solution she presented was the best for this company—what they needed right now and likely for a long time.
After hearing Molly, the CEO’s mouth almost opened agape, but he hid his enthusiasm until he had the answer. He knew she was really good. The question was whether or not she was a good actor or sincerely meant it.
Molly explained the incredible effort in getting this solution to work. Moreover, she spent just as much time trying to discern how to use the company’s product to benefit others—how it could change lives and benefit thousands of people.
Molly delivered her message clearly and concisely with an underlying enthusiasm that was genuine and authentic. Her expressions were sincere. There was no sign of commission-based greed nor anxiousness from her visage or body language. Based on the CEO’s silence, she sensed that the Martin Luther King Jr. quote had sealed the deal. But did it?
Part II next...