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Quiz: Are You Ready for the Big League?

Plenty of sales pros would like to cut the big deals with the big firms. Doing so, however, takes a particular kind of moxie. Here's a short quiz that will let you know if you've got what it takes.

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QUESTION ONE: You're the VP of sales for a smallish software firm, competing with a giant software firm for an accounting application to be installed at a $20 billion manufacturing firm. You just found out that your competitor recently sold another application to the customer and now has the inside track on all future sales. Your customer contact calls you to ask if you'll come to Singapore to give a 3 hour presentation to the company's CIOs. You are told that your competitor will also be given 3 hours to present their solution.


Click here for the correct answer»


QUESTION ONE: You're the VP of sales for a smallish software firm, competing with a giant software firm for an accounting application to be installed at a $20 billion manufacturing firm. You just found out that your competitor recently sold another application to the customer and now has the inside track on all future sales. Your customer contact calls you to ask if you'll come to Singapore to give a 3 hour presentation to the company's CIOs. You are told that your competitor will also be given 3 hours to present their solution.


The correct answer is #3. The other company clearly has the inside track due to the prior sale, so you're not going to make the sale unless you even the odds. So you must demand a concession, such as a personal meeting with the CEO in addition to the CIO presentation.

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QUESTION TWO. Your customer contact calls back the next day and says that the CEO can meet with you for breakfast on the day following your presentation. You to go Singapore, but when you arrive, you discover that your presentation has been scheduled from 5pm to 8pm, after a full day of meetings. Your competitor, however, has been given the entire following day - 6 full hours - for their presentation.


Click here for the correct answer»


QUESTION TWO. Your customer contact calls back the next day and says that the CEO can meet with you for breakfast on the day following your presentation. You to go Singapore, but when you arrive, you discover that your presentation has been scheduled from 5pm to 8pm, after a full day of meetings. Your competitor, however, has been given the entire following day - 6 full hours - for their presentation.


The correct answer is #1. Even though you have every reason to be upset, you're already in Singapore, so you might as well present. Demanding equal time will get you nowhere because the schedule is already set and attendees will simply be annoyed if you try to change it. Instead, you should address the issue during the meeting with the CEO next morning, which leads to...

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QUESTION THREE. You are eating breakfast with the CEO, who is clearly not particularly interested in what you have to say. Your customer contact is at the table with the two of you.


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QUESTION THREE. You are eating breakfast with the CEO, who is clearly not particularly interested in what you have to say. Your customer contact is at the table with the two of you.


The correct answer is #2. Your only chance to make a sale is to get the CEO to intervene in what was clearly a misleading situation. You therefore tell the CEO that you're not certain you want to work with his company. Explain how you've been mistreated in the matter of the presentations and, based upon the asymmetric presentation schedule, had been misled into thinking that your company had a chance to get the business.

Sound a bit gutsy? Maybe so. See comment #4 below for a more detailed explanation of why the politics of the situation demanded a complaint.

BTW, the quiz is based upon a real-life situation that supposedly happened to sales trainer Bob Beck. Although Beck has been known to "borrow" material from other sales trainers (and I've taken him to task for it in this blog), I have no reason to believe that the story itself isn't true.

According to Beck, the CEO was surprised that Beck wanted to withdraw from the competition and and shared that several CIOs said that Beck's presentation had been very strong. In the end, the customer contact was transferred out and Beck's firm got the business.

Anyway, even if you don't believe that this really happened to Beck, the answers are still the best moves under the circumstances, as described in comment 4 below.

READERS: Do you agree? So far very few people have thought that complaining was the right thing to do, probably because complaining seems so counter-intuitive in a sales situation. However, I'm still convinced that it was the only way to torpedo the competition's imminent victory.

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