While the Girl Scouts are better known for their sales prowess (Thin Mints, anyone?), the Boy Scouts motto of “Be Prepared” can go a long way toward closing a sale. That’s certainly been the case for Jeff Griffin, a district manager with the Strategic Products Division of payroll and HR solutions provider Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP). “Preparation is key to being able to go to a prospective client and talk intelligently about their organization and how [your product] can help,” says Griffin, who targets major accounts in Westchester and parts of Connecticut.
When prospecting, Griffin spends time researching companies to see what type of buyer profile they fall into, and if they’ve experienced any so-called trigger events (such as company growth, moving to or adding new offices, or debuting new products or services) that are likely to make them more interested in ADP’s offerings.
Social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn can be great sources of information for trigger events, advises Griffin, who is ranked in the top 20 percent of ADP’s sales organization, and is sixth in the nation for his specific product segment. “If prospects are Tweeting about events that are triggers for us, it can be very helpful,” says Griffin, who notes that LinkedIn, too, can be helpful when you are “one connection away from someone. You can reach out to your connection and ask for a ‘warm’ introduction.”
Once he has his foot in the door, Griffin turns to a “teaching and tailoring” strategy that has helped him make the ADP President’s Club—for employees who hit at least 115 percent of their sales quota—four times in his six years with the company. “I spend a lot of time on sales calls teaching for differentiation—making a clear distinction between us and their incumbent provider or other firms they are considering,” says Griffin. He says you also “have to tailor your pitch specific to the organization.” A recent call Griffin made to a Westchester health-related firm shows how the teaching and tailoring approach can work: The company was concerned about compliance issues under the new health care reform laws, and its current software provider hadn’t offered any expertise. “We spent 20 minutes discussing potential fines and penalties the company could face, what they need to do daily to maintain compliance, and how our products and services could help them,” Griffin explains.
When all the research, teaching, and tailoring doesn’t result in a sale, Griffin is sure to go back and analyze what went wrong. The usual culprit, he says, is going in at the wrong level. When a deal dies or gets stalled, you often find out that you were talking to someone who didn’t have final say, Griffin explains. He recommends going back and asking your contact to arrange a meeting with the appropriate decision-maker. “You don’t want to rely on the controller to sell the services, he is not as effective,” he says.
Griffin’s last tip? “Don’t cheapen your deal. If you are confident in your sale, you can go big and get it done.”
â–º Bob Petrocelli, New York Life Insurance Company
â–º Robert Bongiardino, Pamal Broadcasting
â–º Linda Ruggiero, Avon
â–º Susan Strawgate Code, Houlihan Lawrence
â–º Guy Forgione, White Plains Chrysler Jeep Dodge
â–º John Doolan, Heineken USA
â–º For more from 914INC’s Q2 2013 Issue, click here.