I’ve been looking forward to talking with a worldwide group of women and men involved in high-stakes, large-account marketing and selling. I call my readers “people who want to know how to take scary-big risks in order to make scary-big sales”. Everything I write here also gives insights and methods for becoming a stronger leader in your company.
You Were Born To Be A Leader
If you’re like me, you feel that high-stakes sales or high-stakes leadership – either way, they require the same strengths – is what you were born to do, though the risks are monumental. Again, if you’re like me, you’re majoring in how to decrease the risks and increase the successes. And doing it all faster and better than the last time, with less effort, more systems, and with practical, teachable methods.
You’ve come to the right place to talk about it. We’ll also talk about why we’re so successful at high-stakes endeavors. We’re successful because we win at the inner game of sales, risk-taking, and leadership. Just like leaders in any arena, we win at the inner game of confidence, balance, resilience, and self-leadership. That is what we spend a lot of our time improving and strengthening. The rest of the world can’t even see what we’re REALLY good at: doing what we have to to risk and succeed, regardless of the fears. So much of what we’ll do here also applies to our work as leaders.
I’m Speaking To You
In my posts about Scary Big Sales, Relationship Selling, and knowing you Client’s True Need, I’m speaking to all of you, and particularly to you Seller-Do-ers and Client Managers who pursue Large Account Sales, and high-revenue/high-risk/high-stakes sales. Together we’ll help the readers who want to join our ranks, those who want to go after Large Account Sales, and everyone who wants to be a stronger leader.
You As A Leader
All of us who’ve pursued high-stakes sales know that the strengths and skills we had to hone are the very same strengths we need to be outstanding leaders. We have vision, optimism, determination, the ability to act despite fear, and eventually the ability to act fearlessly. We also know that leading well, leading boldly contains the potential for high risk, doesn’t it? So that is the other major area we’ll talk about here. Every post, whether about leadership or relationship selling, is about leading yourself and others to success despite all the risks. Every post can help turn you into a Fierce and Effective Leader and Risk-Taker.
When I’m not here speaking with you, I’m a skier, hiker, organic food gardener, horseback rider, fearless risk-taker, good friend, entrepreneur, TED Talker, and happy wife.
Here’s why my story is special:
Engineering firms like to work for the Department of Defense, which awards work primarily through two kinds of contract competitions.
The Easier One to Win
The first kind of contract: many competitions throughout the year; fairly simple requirements, short proposal format; dollar values only $3-8million but providing ample revenue and low-risk profit to the winner. If your firm is good, you can win many contracts during the year and win the re-competes. Our firm was good; we had dozens of these contracts. These contracts are awarded on technical qualifications and performance record alone. You’re not competing based on a price you bid; no price is specified in the proposal. These proposals are easy to write.
The Harder One to Win
The second and harder kind: values of $35million and up, gargantuan proposal format of three thick volumes, high-risk revenue and profit environment if you win, very highly competed by the top firms, only two or three opportunities each year, three finalists selected on technical qualifications and performance record, then the slate is wiped clean and winner wins based solely on a bid-price competition. The winner and second-place are sometimes separated by only $10,000 out of $35million. The positioning and proposal process lasts over a year. The attempt is very high-risk not only in the amount of time and manpower spent on positioning and proposaling, but the chances for revenue and profit are high-risk even after you win.
This Was Our Company’s First Attempt
My firm had never won a Defense contract of the second kind. We had never even competed for one. We hadn’t been able to figure out how to handle the pricing risk, the time commitment, etc. vs. the risk of losing vs. other commitments. My major Air Force client decided to compete some of its work on the second kind of contract. I spent a solid year on overhead budget, plus $50,000 more in overhead expenses, positioning our team and writing the proposal. It was the biggest career risk I’d ever known anyone to take. If we’d lost the competition, I would have been fired.
Our team won the contract, unseating the five-year incumbent favorite, the first time I or my firm had ever even competed for one of these big ones. We won because we knew and fulfilled the client’s true need. We won because the team I led was spectacular, and they made me a better leader. As my mentor said after the win, “Eva, you have skills”.
What I Do Now
The same qualities that make us strong business developers, marketers, and salespeople also make us strong leaders. Those qualities begin with a focus on the other person, not on ourselves. The qualities also include resilience, persistence, self-control, emotional intelligence, self-leadership, farsightedness, and the hungry desire to find out how to get the thing done and tell it to others.
I founded BOLD Growth, Inc., a Business Development and Leadership Coaching firm, to help you build the business developer and the leader who resides in you and to give us all a place to talk about the challenges.
I am a speaker and teacher. My clients at Boeing, Raytheon, The City of Hope, and other firms have endorsed my Leadership techniques and described them as unique, easy to learn, immediately useful, and life changing. I coach individual clients and lead popular seminars.
I am a skier, hiker, organic gardener, happy wife, TED speaker, risk taker, and traveler. My most memorable travel, and the realization of a life’s dream, was trekking to the mountaintops of Uganda to sit three feet from the endangered mountain gorillas.
Please also visit me on my LinkedIn page at www.linkedin.com/in/evabowman/