Daniel McIvor plots his course
A CodeBlue account manager's voyage from sailing in the Navy to selling managed servicesBy Lee Davis, Auckland | Tuesday, 11 December 2012
CodeBlue’s Daniel McIvor was selected from over 40 applicants for the position of account manager at the company. He says he was selected to join the CodeBlue team not only because of his prior success in sales, but also for his experience in delivering managed services, a more specialised role than others.
His previous job with Fuji Xerox had tested his mettle in selling managed service offerings in a consultative sales process.
"Money is the ultimate reason I have chosen sales as a career," says McIvor. "But job satisfaction is what gets me out of bed in the morning."
McIvor loves his work so much, in fact, that he has never considered any other career.
"I’ve never looked back," he says. "I find my career very satisfying. Especially in the technology industry where things are always changing."
What’s your best and worst experience of cold calling?
My best experience was knocking on a door and leaving with a signed contract. The worst was being yelled at by someone saying: “Get out, get out we have a force field on our door to stop people like you coming in. Get out of here."
What’s your best tip for cold calling?
When selling a service I personally have a lot more success engaging face to face. I do use cold calling by phone to qualify prospects and to organise face to face meetings. But I try and avoid selling over the phone until I have a deeper understanding of the prospect's business requirement. Be polite, introduce yourself and ask if you can arrange a meeting to learn more about the prospect's business. Qualify, then book an appointment.
What’s the most useful tip you can give to a struggling salesperson?
Be passionate about what you are selling. If you don’t believe in what you are promoting, how will anyone else? Find out what makes your product different, find out who will benefit the most from what you sell, then go talk to them! Once you know who your best prospects are, keep their best interests at heart and sales will follow.
Does the pressure to hit your monthly or quarterly targets ever make you stressed?
Yes, I find a bit of stress can be good, it helps keep me focused. I never have a problem keeping work and home life separate though, I generally switch off when I go home and leave work at work.
How would you sum up the craft of sales in one sentence to an outsider?
Sales is the art of finding someone with a need and matching the most appropriate solution to that need.
Have you ever put your foot in it when talking to a client?
I was presenting to a guy that wore an eye patch once. During small talk when describing some dodgy contractors I described them as “real pirates”. To this day I don’t know why I said that as it isn’t a phrase I’d normally use. It made the rest of the meeting slightly awkward.
How did you get past the point of struggling to make a sale to where you are today?
I started my sales career getting by purely on energy and enthusiasm. At any one time I worked on a lot of deals and won enough to get by. As I’ve matured I’m much more selective in what I qualify in or out and follow a very methodical consultative approach.
Do you consider yourself a persuasive person?
No. When working on an opportunity I always ask myself the question, “if this was my business would I say yes to this solution?” If the answer is no I either qualify out or dig deeper for more reasons. Once I can answer yes to that question it is just a matter of presenting a logical business case. Good communicator yes, overly persuasive no.
How do you balance time spent between product knowledge training with generating leads or opportunities?
I spend most of my time working on sales opportunities. I have plenty of technical resource to pull in as and when needed. My job is to ensure I can take what our technical team recommends and clearly articulate this to the client.
What’s the best deal you have ever closed?
I lost a big product and services deal but stayed in touch with the client. After six months they decided I was managing the account better than the company who had won the contract and paid a $50,000 settlement to break contract and sign with me. That was a satisfying win.
Would you encourage your offspring to go into sales?
Yes. I think sales gives you a good overall understanding of business and can be the perfect platform to branch off into owning or running your own business. Communication is key in sales and this is cross-transferable to every area of life.
Has anyone ever made you feel intimidated?
As I started a presentation, the guy I was addressing stopped me with the following statement: “I just thought I’d let you know before you get started: I f**king hate sales people.” Later in the meeting while going through our customer satisfaction guarantee he started pretending to play the miniature violin. Early in my career that was pretty intimidating.
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