Next up in our collection of war stories from our panellistas is Robin:
Favorite war story? Do I have to pick just one? Actually, I’m finding it challenging to recall as I often suppress such horrifying events – how else could I move forward with such a positive attitude and still come to work everyday? If forced to choose just one, this is my favorite… only because we WON.
“I thought tomorrow we would…..”
This story falls into the “There is no such thing as a perfect proposal” category. I was working with a new sales person on a big proposal (potential of $40 mil in annual revenue) for a major health plan that we had been courting for several years. We had 30 days to respond! Normally this is a good thing. However, what it meant was non-stop work on the project for all 30 days – including weekends.
We had a good strategy that only changed 3 times throughout the process; a very dedicated sales person; we were selling programs that we actually already have built; and we were competitively priced. My challenges, however, were educating the sales person on the process, earning his trust and getting him to adhere to the established timelines. Despite these challenges, he is a great person to work with because of his dedication, attention to detail and appreciation. So, I carved out the 30 days, put my head down and worked full steam ahead, counting down the days until I could resume normal life.
The proposal was due on a Monday. The sales person decided he was going to hand deliver it and would fly out on Sunday afternoon with the precious package. According to plan, we would complete the final touches and production on Saturday. Therefore, I planned to unwind with a bottle of wine on Saturday night and do NOTHING on Sunday but watch football and eat chicken wings.
At 2 pm on Saturday, as the sales person lay across my desk and we were combing through the document making final edits, he had the audacity to say, “I thought that tomorrow we would……blah blah blah” – I totally lost him when he said those first 6 words. I felt my face get red and tears welled up in my eyes as I looked at him in total shock and shouted in a panicky voice:
“TOMORROW? TOMORROW? I AM NOT COMING IN HERE TOMORROW! I’VE BEEN WORKING WITH YOU FOR 30 DAYS STRAIGHT AND THIS MARRIAGE COMES TO AN END TODAY. IF YOU WANT TO WORK ON THIS TOMORROW, YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN. YOU COULDN’T BUY ME ENOUGH FOOD OR STARBUCKS FOR ME TO COME IN HERE TOMORROW. ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT PROPOSAL – REMEMBER?? THIS IS IT, BUDDY!”
As the tears rolled down my face and my entire body shuddered from my emotional breakdown, the fear in his eyes was unmistakable. He wasn’t sure what to do next. Being the wise man that he is, he back away slowly and said, “You’re right, we’re just about done here. No need to come in tomorrow.”
That is the first and hopefully the last project that will bring me to tears. The work we did for those 30 days resulted in a HUGE win for the company. When the sales person received his first commission check almost a year later, he gave me a generous portion of it in ten dollar bills rolled up inside two Tiffany wine glasses. This was the first time a sales person had EVER given me a portion of his commissions.
Other posts in this series:
War Story 1