By Marija on May 20th, 2012
Dan McDade is a Gold Author on EvanCarmichael.com – to view his articles click here. We asked him how he made his first sale – here’s what he said:
In December of 1998 I made the commitment to rent 871 square feet of space. The new office happened to be between a dog grooming parlor and a tanning salon.
I was confident in my decision to secure this space because I was in the final stages of selling to two prospects. Things we’re looking good for us. And while everything turned out well, there were a few fingernail-biting moments between the time the lease was signed and the deals were done.
One of the prospects had a U.S. headquarters in Atlanta, but the decision-influencer was in San Diego. Close to the date when a decision was to be made my contact called me to let me know that it looked like the business was going to go to a competitor. Frustrated, and a bit worried about my newly acquired overhead, I sat down and wrote a four-page letter to her that I have since called my Brutus Letter (“I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him”). In that letter I thanked my prospect for the opportunity to compete for the business, wished her well and offered to help in any way I could. I also went out on a limb (remember I said this wasn’t a praise letter) and candidly provided a list of 10 reasons why she and her company would be miserable within 30 days.
I knew in my heart that what I was saying was right, and no matter how it turned out, I believed then and now that this was the right thing to do. As it happens, that letter resulted in a meeting with the worldwide president of the company, and ultimately to the signing of an agreement that lasted until they were acquired five years later. Those folks never did visit the 871 square foot office between the dog grooming parlor and the tanning salon—which was OK, as we turned what would have been misery with a competitor into a productive, positive relationship that benefited both parties for many years.
The other piece of business—well, we were still chasing it in January even after we moved into our new office. This potential engagement was with a very well-known Atlanta company that was concerned about its clients in light of Y2K ramifications. I had a great (and I hoped final) meeting with the prospect in the afternoon, I then proceeded to clean the bathrooms, vacuum the floors—and hit send on an agreement that was for us, a really large contract. I got home at 11 that night.
The next morning, at about 7:30 I was pleased to see that I had already received a response from that prospect. It said, “Usually, when you are selling to a new client, it is a good idea to spell at least one of their names right.” Uh oh, more bad news (and the lease was signed!). While my contact did have a name that could have gone a number of ways, and I did not have his card, I had no excuses. I was short-cutting because it was late, and I was sloppy.
I called my prospect, apologized, told him all of the reasons why he should ignore my mistake–and amazingly we won the business which resulted in close to $500,000 in revenue our first year. So, another near miss—but a valuable learning experience: While I can’t claim it never happened again, I have learned to double-check documents sent to clients ever since. In this case, I didn’t take a great risk, I simply made a great mistake. But I’m happy to report that the apology, which was certainly heartfelt, worked and we did a lot of really good work for that company until it was acquired several years later.
Looking back on our humble beginnings as a company, I am grateful for that very first lease for 871 square feet. I was proud of that space and proud of what I knew we could do to help our clients sell more and generate more revenue. Committing to that space put a fire in my belly … and influenced my behavior, right and wrong, in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced. I learned a lot, my team grew, and we did well right there between the dog grooming parlor and the tanning salon. In fact we expanded to 1875 square feet by mid-year and had moved out to larger (and nicer) space by March, 2000. The learning continues.
About Dan McDade:
Dan McDade founded PointClear in 1997 with the mission to be the first and best company providing prospect development services to business-to-business companies with complex sales processes. He has been instrumental in developing the innovative strategies that drive revenue for PointClear clients nationwide.
In addition to serving as president and CEO of PointClear, Dan is the author of The Truth About Leads, an insightful book that sheds light on the little-known secrets that help focus B2B lead-generation efforts, align sales and marketing organizations and drive revenue.
Prior to starting PointClear, Dan served as president of UST, The Business Marketing Group, a high-tech B2B marketing services firm. The company, serving leading technology companies including Sun Microsystems, Texas Instruments, Oracle and SAP, grew over 500% during his tenure. From 1989 to 1991, Dan was an independent consultant providing direct marketing, telemarketing and new business development consulting services. Clients included Sears, Exxon, Rodale Press, R.J. Reynolds, and The Ritz-Carlton. Dan also served as vice president of marketing with Jackson & Perkins in Medford, Ore.
Dan is chairman of the board of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) Education Collaborative, an organization promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in Georgia’s middle and high schools. He is a member of TAG, and also serves on the boards of TechAmerica Southeast (formerly AEA); the Business & Technology Alliance, a TAG society; and TAG Marketing. The Sales Lead Management Association named Dan one of the 50 most influential people in sales lead management in 2009 and 2010. Dan is also the author of ViewPoint | The Truth About Lead Generation, a blog exploring issues related to B2B sales, marketing and lead generation.