The following is the draft of my column for Food Service News that hit the streets of Minnesota today. If you haven't been turned onto "Food Service News" you should really check it out online. It is w/o a doubt the most comprehensive Hospitality trade publication north of Chicago.
2012 Sales Person of the Year
DATELINE - BROTHERS BAR & GRILL / DOWNTOWN MPLS
With close to forty minutes before the Wolves tip off, a friend and I decided to head into the “B.B.G.” to take advantage of their 2 for 1 Stella’s. As we stood in the entryway, the two of us couldn’t believe what we saw.
Not only was every table packed, but the lengthy “O” shaped bar was surrounded with waves of patrons three or four deep.
The staff raced to pluck the credit cards and wads of cash that kept popping up.
As I continued watching the transfer of currency, my attention was shifted to a guy in a Beasley jersey who looked up at me and said…
“All this commotion for a tilt against the Pacers? Can you imagine how crazy it’s going to be when the Celtics or Lakers come to town?”
I totally got the guys point. Like him, I had tickets last season, and there were evenings when you could have walked around the Target Center with shovels in your outstretched arms, and you wouldn’t have hit a soul.
But take it from me Minnesota, those days are gone.
While I stood in the midst of this beer guzzling brood, there was excitement in the air. People were speculating as to how the home town squad had turned it around. Some suggested that it was the addition of coach Adelman, while others chalked it up to the brilliant play of Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.
I just rolled my eyes and thought to myself….
“It’s obvious that these people don’t run a business. If they did, they’d know that success comes from energy, and energy is created by the sales department. Without bodies, it’s impossible to create excitement.”
If you’ve been to a Wolves home game during this 2011/2012 season, you know what I’m talking about. During the home opener against Oklahoma City, there was a point in the third quarter when my 20 year old son looked at me and said…
“You know, this doesn’t seem like a typical Twin Cities crowd. You’d think we were at a Knicks game or something.”
That’s pretty high praise when you consider it’s coming from a kid who is that point in life where he associates compliments with weakness.
To be honest, I don’t know the Wolves business structure that well, but I’d be willing to bet that their Marketing and Sales staff spent most of last summer’s labor strike working overtime. This year’s brand is as tight of a product as I’ve seen in this city in a long time.
Last year when they launched their UNITED WE RUN mantra, the new slogan didn’t exactly coincide with what I was witnessing on the court.
I remember bringing that point up with Mike Fuhrman “the Wolves inside Sales Supervisor” and he just flashed me a look of confidence before doling out some reassurance.
“I hear you Klecko, the boys have a way to go, but this organization is committed, mark my words, next year we’re not going to simply settle for improvement, we are going to compete!”
And when he said this, I realized it wasn’t one of those obligatory boasts that a salesperson learns at some Dale Carnegie seminar. I could tell that Mike really believed this.
I’ve always felt that if you are going to flourish in Sales that the most important weapons in your arsenal have to be language, promptness and the ability to create “Win-Win” situations for your spending demographic.
Nobody does this better than Mike Fuhrman.
And truth be told, recently I’ve been noticing how many of his techniques have worked their way into my sales repertoire.
For years when I’d go to present a bakery promo, I had a standard speech that was memorized. My pitch focused heavily on product quality and service.
In many ways my presentation was effective, but when I took the time to study this aspect of my job, I began to realize that my delivery was kind of mechanical.
Why wouldn’t it be? Basically I was just repeating the shtick that my bread mentors used.
So when I came to the point where I decided I was going to construct my own pitch, the first thing that popped into my head was….
“Who should I steal it from?”
The answer was obvious, Mike Fuhrman of course.
One of the slipperiest slopes that any sales person has to navigate is figuring out how to plug into a potential client without looking like a “suck up.”
I never really felt comfortable becoming “friendly” with potential clients, and maybe it’s just me, but I can’t think of anything more humiliating than for somebody to view you as a “typical” salesperson.
There’s safety in delivering a pitch that’s void of emotion, if it fails….the failure can be attached to the system, not the person who is delivering it.
But the more I’ve thought about it, I really think that’s a cowardly approach.
If you want your ceiling of success to remain high, I think the best approach is to strike with tenacity, but then don’t hover over the client.
Dangle options in their sightline, retreat, and then if you don’t hear from them, repeat the process the following quarter.
People who are considering signing your dotted line don’t actually want to be your friend, but it sure does mean a lot when they come to realize that you have their best interests in mind.
For those of you who have followed this column, you know that baseball is a religion at my house. With that said, even I have to chuckle at the fact that I haven’t spent a penny on a Twins package in years.
Trust me, I’m not proud to admit this, but it just goes to show what a sheep I am, and how good of a job that Fuhrman has done.
Over the last few years he’s got me to contribute thousands of dollars to the NBA while my primary choice the MLB is lucky to get table scraps from my recreation allowance.
Providing continuous options is the heart and soul of sales.
Listed below are just some of the perks that Mike offered up without demanding a future commitment……….
*A night in a V.I.P. suite during a Lakers game
*Seats good enough that Mark Cuban came over and posed with my kid for his Facebook status photo
*Availability to sit in the “Back Court Club” with the Miami Heat during Lebron’s 27th birthday
*Breakfast, and the opportunity to express my opinions with management before the draft
The list goes on, but I guess the point I’d like to make is that through the opportunities that Mr. Fuhrman has delivered, basketball may have replaced baseball as favorite sport.
If the Wolves sales approach has had enough power to change the things in my life that I’m most passionate about, then I at least need to consider mimicking their template and attaching these methods to the way I represent my bread empire.
So look out Twin Cities, Klecko may be paying a call on you soon!
Thanks Mike for all that you do for our city, and congratulations for being named Klecko’s 2012 Sales Person of the Year.
If you would like to meet Mike yourself, here are his digits.
INSIDE SALES SUPERVISOR / TIMBERWOLVES & LYNX
P – 612 673 8417
F - 612 673 1699