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We asked...

Stanley Whittaker answered

December 10th, 2013
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Could you give us some background on your time before sales and you beginnings at Cape Media?

I started at Cape Media in 2010 coming from the hospitality industry where I worked as a Chef.  I was however quite sceptical when I started as I knew it was strictly commission based and that there was no salary involved. But it was something completely different and a new challenge to tackle, which I had heard could prove to be very rewarding if you apply yourself. Being a person that has a good work ethic, I decided to give it my best shot. I had terrible 'phone fright' when I started and couldn't bring myself to pick up the phone in the first week. I then resorted to the yellow pages and called random companies, that I knew wouldn't result in business, to overcome this. The first week that I actually began calling proper clients, I ended up closing a multiple edition booking and the same thing happened in the 2 weeks that followed. 
I started out on BBQ Magazine which evolved into the BBQ Awards and have been working on the Awards as my 'home' project ever since. I have of course worked/booked on other projects such as Skills Development Summit, TLC etc, too - but have always come back to the Awards. 
You could say the BBQ Awards 'chose me' in a way. I ended up closing a small deal on it by mentioning the event to my client while discussing the Magazine, who turned out to really like the idea and booked a seat. I then decided to try and focus more of my efforts on the Awards which started to work for me, and discovered that that was where my strength lay and that it was a project I enjoyed working on more than any other.

You've recently secured a very impressive deal with an important client - can you tell us more about how you did it?

I have been dealing with the client for about 2 and a half years now and it was from the first booking that I began growing my professional relationship with them - right from the Receptionist all the way up to the Chairman/CEO of the company. Through growing strong relationships with my clients, I also grow trust. The clients get to the point where they are comfortable enough to discuss larger investments/partnerships and I am confident enough in our relationship and products to put forward proposals of a much larger value.
The day I mentioned to them that I would like them to be the platinum partner for the BBQ Awards was the day I realized that I could invite any client to participate on such a scale with the same confidence and professionalism. Four days after I first discussed the Platinum package with them, they agreed to come on board as the Platinum Partner. 
So I do believe that relationships and attention to detail play a major role in your how happy your client will be and whether you will manage to continue your relationship and re-book them. If you do not have a hands on approach with each and every client you have and ensure that you do whatever it takes for them to get what they were promised and have paid for, they will just end up being a 'once- off' client who will not want to do business with you again, who feel unappreciated and neglected, and will not speak highly of your service, product or company. 

What advice do you have for your more junior colleagues on the sales floor when dealing with big clients?

Don't be scared of them. Remember they are human too and they breathe the same air that you do. Just be professional, make sure that you know what you are talking about and that you have researched the company and individual properly before attempting to make the call. Corporate's can pick up if you are nervous, don't know what you are talking about or are reading from a page. Practice on the smaller ones first until you perfect your pitch and gain your confidence and become comfortable enough. Don't rush into it them too early. When you do, try to form and grow valuable relationships with clients as they like to deal with one person as their main point of contact, that they feel comfortable with and that they can trust to advise them on where to place their money, manage that investment, ensure that they get what they have been promised and someone who they know they can liaise with or call upon if they need anything or if the sh*t hits the fan. Once you have earned your clients trust and respect they will go places with you and can be a client for 'life', but never abuse the relationship or exploit your client simply for personal gain or greed.
 
How about when dealing with rejection?

Rejection is part of the job and something you will experience every day. You need to be able to handle rejection and not take it personally if you choose to do sales.
A constructive way to handle rejection is to focus on your average/'ratio'. They say every sales person has a ratio in terms of their calls versus deals booked. Ie Some people manage to close 1 deal from every 10 calls they make. You can work your own ratio out in this way and then remember each time you make a call that each 'No' or any rejection is simply getting you one step closer to that 'Yes'.. 
Make goals and outline the steps/smaller goals required to reach them.  Also stay focused on who you are working for (wife, kids, girlfriend, family member etc)  and why you are working/what you want to achieve in your career and with the money you earn. This way you stay focused on your objectives & targets and the reasons/people you are working for (besides to just survive); which can constantly keep you motivated and keep you going to that inevitable 'Yes'.

What is your approach to 2014?

I am already planning and preparing (mentally and literally) for next year so that when January arrives, I can start with a bang and be on top of things with all my clients, (booked & potential) goals, targets etc Hard work and consistently maintaining the work ethic on a daily basis is one of the key factors to making a success of the opportunity we have and is what I intend to do from day one. I am blessed to have an amazing support system from my family and Girlfriend who believe in me, do whatever it takes to assist and motivate me and encourage me to believe in myself, make me want to continue doing what I do; push through and push harder when I am going through a rough patch/slump or think I have already given my all..
I want to continue to grow, prosper, support my loved ones and see what new heights and goals I can reach on a personal and professional level.

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