"If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate." Thomas Watson. The prospecting continues, my friends. It seems like I need to gear up to face some more failure before achieving that prized success. Last week, if you recall, I was getting ready to start sending out prospecting emails. My hopes were high and I was convinced that I would send out some emails, get a few responses, and set up meetings. A piece of cake, right? Well... it's not quite that simple. I was not prepared for the fact that perhaps 10% of the people would respond, and that all but one of those responses would be flat out rejections. I had spent time carefully crafting these messages to be appealing to their industry, relevant to their role, and with a clear call to action. Yet, no one accepted!
On Wednesday evening I checked my email to find that one person had said they would "tentatively" accept a meeting. I'm not joking when I tell you that I jumped up and down in my room at even this small glimmer of hope. Another respondent said no, and I replied asking him why and inquiring if maybe a different day would be better for him. I was pleasantly surprised when he asked what we wanted to discuss. "Ah," I thought to myself, "Now we have a dialogue going." I emailed him back this morning, so I'm playing the wait and see game. Hopefully I can report next week that he agreed to a meeting, but if we look at the historical evidence, I rather doubt it.
Despite the current lack of results, I am not deterred! As Mr. Watson said, you have to have a good deal of failure before you are met with success (unless of course you are incredibly lucky or have some sort of magical emailing ability, neither of which apparently apply to me). So, onward I go with my prospecting, happy to double my failure rate if it would mean even a 1% increase in success.
Luckily, prospecting is not my sole activity (although I did have a dream about it the other night where I sent out emails meant for one company to employees from another company. The horror). This week I met with a commerce rep who graduated from my school, The College of New Jersey. He gave me a rundown of the commerce portfolio and told me about how using stories in your client meetings can be an effective way to facilitate engagement. I also got to speak with a cloud platform services rep who was one of the first to sell BlueMix. He's a true pioneer, let me tell you. Also, an area I have a particular interest in is security (everyone needs it, after all), so I was excited to meet with two reps of BigFix. Another learning opportunity was to attend a talk on how IBM approaches the cloud and the future of cloud computing. It was an enlightening discussion and made the cloud a bit less abstract and foreign.
The learning experiences continued when an unexpected turn of events began upon my walking into the office on Wednesday. "Did you see the email?" Alyssa asked me. Fun fact: there are three interns named Alyssa. What's that, you ask? Does it get confusing? Oh no, it doesn't create any confusion at all. When I opened my email I saw that a selection of interns was asked to give a presentation the following day. With obscure directions and a request that we be ready for a 30-minute presentation, we assembled into teams and began our work.
The technical interns were asked to demonstrate how to create and use pivot tables in Excel, while the sales interns were charged with leading the meeting. We approached it as though we were going to give a demonstration to a client with the goal of securing their business. It went quite well, and when I proposed a timeline for implementation at the end of the meeting (as I was the only sales intern on my team), it was accepted! This was a great way to add variety to the week.
Before I sign off, I have to share a funny story with you. It is a truth universally acknowledged that calling tech support is the worst. The absolute worst. I found myself unable to access the wifi and knew my problem was serious after I couldn’t solve it by clicking around randomly or rebooting. Once tech support had taken over my screen and couldn’t resolve it, I was told I would be called in 8 business hours. This would leave me paralyzed without my email (what if someone responded to my prospecting messages! Oh, I do crack myself up). I typed “thank you” into the tech support chat, but before I hit send, I paused. Was this the right thing to say since she hadn’t actually solved my problem? Before I could type another response, she hit send HERSELF (she still had control of my screen) and closed the chat! But never fear, ultimately I fixed the problem myself and was able to check that my inbox was indeed still at zero.
All in all, this was another good week. I learned that it is tough to get responses from people, that you always need to be on the lookout for opportunities, and that sometimes tech support will take matters into their own hands. Check again next Friday as the saga of the email continues!