Chapter FIVE: Capital Calzones
Cruising down the interstate, scratching the chin of the precious black lab sprawled across the back seat of the SUV, I couldn’t help but smile from underneath one lens of my Ray-Ban sunglasses to the other. Few days so far in this calendar compared to that one. The sun was glistening in a cloudless sky. We were left relying on the gentle (and refreshingly cool) breeze to keep us from overheating.
I had the pleasure of accompanying my new friend and colleague, Inky Byers, on a sales excursion to the bustling yet beautiful Arlington, Virginia. Inky serves as a national account executive, which means he’s always on the road, spreading our do it outdoors media message to prospective clientele. It’s his job to present advertisers with opportunities and in turn develop and cultivate new business relationships. He becomes an advertiser’s partner, learning about their marketing goals and offering the best possible advertising experiences.
But I mentioned a dog….
Inky also trains his beloved service dogs. Although not the primary reason, he doesn’t shy away from admitting that it occasionally helps him get his foot in the door on sales trips! (No one can resist dog kisses.)
Tagging along with us was Ink’s trusty sidekick, Lovell. It was remarkable at how well behaved ‘Lovey’ was during our sales call. The reaction he got upon strolling into the LMO corporate office was priceless. They say dogs sell. Thankfully, they help us sell mobile billboards, too.
Inside LMO – the first full service ad agency I have ever visited – I was bewildered at the lively and colorful office! From the autographed guitar mounted on the far wall of the lobby to the glass trophy case that couldn’t hold a single accolade more, I was left gaping at this really neat environment. I glanced down the hallway and chuckled upon seeing a stack of beanbag chairs in a room in the back as opposed to chairs. The demographic of employees caught me off guard – I’d be willing to bet that no one in the entire office was older than 35 years old, which could be a testament to the vibrant and creative atmosphere around me.
Agencies such as LMO serve as our partners every day. They connect us with brands and help push our advertising media platforms into action. In other words, we love advertising agencies!
Inky’s professionalism was untamed and his charismatic sales pitch was enough to sell snow to an Eskimo. Although I can’t quite remember it verbatim, it’s safe to say that I got a feel for what a confident “elevator speech” sounds like! I’ll be perfecting my own over the course of this summer.
Five or so hours in the car sounds quite miserable at first, but I couldn’t have asked for a better conversation with such a great mentor. As an aspiring salesman myself, I took each of Ink’s words to heart. I absolutely cherished all of the lessons in sales, tidbits of advice and wisdom he graciously tossed my way.
Inky stressed to me the importance of honesty and persistence when it comes to salesmanship. It’s about earning trust and building relationships. He said that sometimes it takes months or years before achieving a contract, but it’s always worth the time spent. When you hear ‘no,’ keep moving. What defines you is how you rebound from those tribulations and learn how to use each new lesson as an underlying strength and motivation. At the core of success in the business world lies communication, personality, networking and willingness to listen. Throughout the course of that day, I learned more about those four pillars than ever expected.
Our meeting with the ad agency was stellar, but nowhere remotely as terrific as the basketball sized meat lover’s calzone that topped off my afternoon as we left the outskirts of our nation’s capital and stopped for a bite to eat. And my lessons in sales will prove timeless as I embrace my own future career.