Eleven years ago, Glenn Ferguson turned a management re-alignment pink slip into his opportunity to start a business in the light-manufacturing field. His philosophy was simply; build better quality products, build the company slowly and methodically on service. When I met Glenn in his second year, the formula had worked well enough to hire his first sales person and he was nervous because it had been him and his reputation that had built the company so far. He knew he had to do the expansion but wanted me to sit in the interview to ensure his top pick of applicants was the right person.
Gina Kelsey was top notch in every way and frankly, it was an easy decision. She settled into the small group and began the task of being the first to represent Ferguson Industries without the name Ferguson above the title Sales Representative.
Over time Gina welcomed in 7 more salespeople into the fold, coaching them and making entry into the company easy for the newbies. Although she was viewed as the defacto leader, they were all highly competitive equals, each possessing that success gene that drives all sales people to want the top performance spot. Gina got the honors in two of the years where keeping score actually counted. With a settled sales force for the last couple of years, the competition was more meaningful and everyone strived to ring the bell.
Gina swung her head around the opening of Glenn’s door in an excited fever and he knew something was up and quickly ended the call he was on. “Sorry Boss” she said, referring to the interruption, but it was obvious she wasn’t the least bit sorry, “You aren’t going to believe who just called”. There was little chance that Glenn was going to guess at anything so when the pause was long enough for the dramatic effect Gina was going for, she uttered the single word that would put Ferguson’s into DefCom4 for the next three months. “Solomon’s”.
Glenn had had a crush on Solomon’s since the day they opened. And by crush, I mean he had dreamed of doing business with this goliath pretty much every waking moment for the past eleven years. It wasn’t just the substantial increase in volume, which he conservatively estimated would be some 30%, it was the ability to boast in the market that he had the top company in his fold of clients. Surely, simply having an account like Solomon’s would attract other business his way, in fact he was certain of it.
Determined to not let this opportunity slip by, Glenn and Gina dedicated every ounce of energy, intellect and gumption into winning this business. Gina worked the client side like the pro she is, Glenn noodled the impact and devised a growth strategy so they would be able to handle the business. Everything from building an addition to the plant, increased shop personnel, infrastructure and even meetings with the bank to ensure the cash flow would be in place were done in anticipation of winning Solomon’s. Meanwhile Gina had brought them over for a plant tour, and worked tirelessly on forging an accurate needs analysis as she worked toward formalizing a proposal that would change the course
of her company forever.
Solomon’s didn’t become Solomon’s from buying Pigs in Pokes and so proposals were met with counter proposals and concessions were sought and many agreed to during the negotiation “back and forths”, which commonly come from these endeavors. Although arduous, the feeling at Ferguson’s was that the end was coming and a deal would be made with them. So Gina mustered a little more energy and sat at her desk, flirting with one more bite of cold pizza, as she went through the final round of concessions and numbers, no doubt thinking she was on the precipice of a great deal, not to mention shoe-in for top sales honors of the year. And then it all washed over her.
She picked up the phone, looked outside into the darkness of the night as it rang and waited for Glenn to pick up. “Glenn, we’ve got a problem.” Her exhausted voice began, “Can you come down”?
Glenn showed up and Gina had the paperwork spread across the meeting room table. “We’re 2% away from a deal” she began, “but Glenn, with all the small issues we’ve given in on and our base pricing concessions, we’re already 8% below what we said our bottom was. With everything at stake on capitol investments and increased inventory, are we just so invested in getting this deal, we aren’t looking at if it’s a good deal”? Glenn had been fighting off the nagging feeling he’d had about this process and the outcomes he’d been looking at for the past few weeks, trying to make himself believe that there would be hidden benefits to taking this deal. Now the bricks fell upon his head. Gina was right, and he knew she was right.
The next morning Ferguson’s excused themselves from the competition. Having invested so much time into this sale, Gina had no chance of garnering the top accolades at the annual business wrap-up meeting. This year she would be the winner of the losers.
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