My Worst Sales Call

What was your worst sales call?

Don't show up unprepared - i.e. Don't waste your prospects time.
Don’t show up unprepared – i.e. Don’t waste your prospect’s time.

I remember mine…

After working hard for months to gain access to the decision maker of a large healthcare company in South Florida, I finally had my chance…a meeting with the CIO.

My current contact, the IT Director, set up this meeting.  When I arrived it was just the two of them – the CIO and the IT Director.  After a brief intro, the CIO sort of turned the meeting over to me.  I immediately launched into a few exploratory questions – my version of the, “What keeps you up at night?” questions.

I didn’t get very far before he stopped me.  Looking at his IT colleague he mumbled, “I thought you said this guy had something important to meet about. So far all I’ve heard are a bunch of sales – open-ended questions.”

Imagine sitting there.

What do you do next?  The call went downhill from there, and of course, that was our last meeting.  There was just no recovery.  You might say this guy was just a jerk.  There was definitely some of that.  But looking back, I also realize that I didn’t come prepared with anything interesting to say.  After all, he hadn’t asked for the meeting, I did.  He wasn’t shopping for anything in particular, so it was up to me to come up with something to hold his interest – or to demonstrate some value.

This week we kicked off Day One of the Moving From Vendor to Adviser Sales training.  The sales person who just shows up for lunch meetings and golf outings is not longer of much value – it’s just not that interesting.  There has to be more – substance.  I call this predictable messaging. An understanding of a CIO’s major issues – predictable needs.

Today we set the foundation for making the move.

When you’re not prepared with the “Right Stuff”, meetings aren’t fun.  On the other hand, when you can show up with important information or a presentation that hits the mark, sales can be one of the most fulfilling jobs out there.  That’s the difference between the vendor and the adviser.  Whether you’re in the class or not, there are a few things sales people just need to be doing on a daily basis.


  • Never stop being a student – there’s always something to learn.  Right now there are significant changes taking place in the offices of the CIO and CISO.  If you don’t understand these changes, you might find your message is outdated in your next sales call.  Don’t let this happen. Don’t waste your prospect’s time.
  • Know the technology trends.  BYOD, Big Data, Cloud – these are just some of the big initiatives going on in just about every company.  You probably know this – but do you know how they are attacking these projects, who is driving them, and where failures are occurring?
  • Retailers are under attack.  Cybercriminals have found some significant weaknesses in our current credit card payment systems – the Chip and Pin technology issue.  You might also know that the PCI requirements were met by Target, yet they lost 40 million credit card numbers.  How can that be? Are you up to speed on what happened?
  • Know your people group – the people you are supposed to be calling on. Do you know who they are, what their most pressing needs are, how they think, how they buy…? Become a student of them and you’ll be way ahead of the competition.

Tomorrow we’ll be launching into Day Two…Looking at marketing concepts every sales person must know in order to persuade their prospects that they have what it takes to be the technology adviser.

© 2014, David Stelzl

P.S. Keep up with the trends, as well as C-Level selling concepts in my Insider’s Circle Group.  (Click to learn more)


2 thoughts on “My Worst Sales Call

  1. As always, very interesting and very true! Thank you for everything you do to raise the bar.

    Kind regards,

    Dot Burrell | Account Manager – So. Cal
    d: 714.961.6000
    m: 714.686.8380




    Named to the Inc. 5000 for six consecutive years.

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