I was doing a cold sales call in an oil and gas industrial area in Nisku, Alberta. I was a young woman armed with knowledge and a list of prospect companies to visit. The chain of 10 hotels I worked for were in smaller communities with O&G exploration going on around them, so these companies travelled to our locations frequently.
I walked into this one shop and the place, full of burly men, suddenly became quiet. All eyes were on me! It was like they hadn’t seen a woman before or something. It didn’t help that they had some posters on the walls that wouldn’t be acceptable by today’s standards. I won’t get too graphic here!
After a pause I broke the silence by clearing my throat and saying “Hello, does “your company” have crews that travel?” Finally the manager came over and spoke to me, and everyone else went back to work. They didn’t travel and I didn’t get the business but after that experience the other calls that I made that day and every day after were a piece of cake.
In the end as horrible as it was at the time, nothing truly terrible actually happened. Cold calls are very different in today’s world. They are easier in many respects despite increased competition. You can cast a bigger net and still catch a lot of fish. Thank goodness without the torture of stopping a shop full of men!
It was an important part of my learning in sales and marketing. I was a shy person by nature and had to overcome that hurdle to progress in my career. I’m in fundraising now and I’m better at what I do because of those experiences. Lose the fear and just make the ask!
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