What I Learned In My 4 Months Without Closing a New Deal

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Jul 28, 2008

The first thing I learned, after four months without closing a deal, is that there is no free lunch!

I sold my recruiting and staffing business. From March 1 through June 3, I did not make one sales call. I did have the opportunity to work with the buyer of Alliance and close some new deals. While there was a temporary high of winning the deals, the buzz is totally different for me when I am doing it for someone else.

My team and I have spent the last 12 months creating a software as a service (SaaS), a web store, a website, and an entire product line and I have not spent much if any time selling. The last few years at Alliance I did generate new deals, however it was not because I was hustling the phone, it was because the business was established enough and the phone rang money. Frankly, I was not selling because I was preoccupied with the creation of Keen.

The first thing I did when my initial phase of contribution to the development was nearing completion was to make calls for investment dollars. In hindsight, I realize that I should have been selling and instead I was telling.

In my telling, came objections:

  • What is your sales strategy?
  • How many customers do you have?
  • How are you generating income?

Those calls lasted about 30 days. The reality is they are right, why would someone invest in today’s world without a sense of what returns they could reap and what time frame?

After some dear new and old friends razzed me about getting on the phone, I came to the realization that I was afraid. It took standing in a San Francisco hotel on the 34th floor, looking at what would soon be my new home city to face the facts that I am starting over and there is no free lunch.

My story alone is not going to generate 10, 20, or 30 million dollars. Pounding the pavement, creating strategic partnerships, and hiring the right people is the only way I can grow KeenHire to where I want it to be in the next 10 years.

As I compiled sources to call, high tech/high touch companies in the Silicon Valley, Boston, and Chicago, I began to feel the pang of excitement that comes with nailing a deal. I also started meeting with high-powered movers and shakers in the recruiting and staffing space, and the leads and connections that they were giving me and the response that I received from their contacts was excellent. They were supportive, interested, and excited.

Then I started going on appointments, and each appointment was an eye-opening adventure that solidified for me my reasons for starting keenHire. Companies want and need what we are offering and it is time to get out of the development and strategy game and into the bringing the service to the market game. People are saying yes, and yes brings in the money.

Take-Away Lessons

I love to be selling, I love to be sharing my vision and passion, and I love the recruiting industry and everything it provides, from relationships to contribution to a boat-load of money. I am disciplined, driven, and motivated. I work hard. I need to be successful by my own standards — personal happiness, quality relationships, nice (really nice) dwelling, and lots of freedom. I want and need to make a difference and have an impact on many.

I also learned that I have become a little arrogant, entitled, and conditioned. I need to do the things I have always known I need to do. Be on the phone, stay on the phone, ask great questions, and uncover problems that need my solving. Email won’t do that. Enlightenment won’t do that. Interest won’t do that.

The only thing that makes a difference in making and closing deals is being in communication. So that is what I am doing. Look out world, Margo is back!

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