BY Russell Wardrop

DATE: 14 MAY 2013


Most team sales meetings have at some point a challenging client situation or two to get stuck in to, usually around fees or expenses or scope. Often someone will say "But they won't do that, they'd never do that..." At this point I make a mental note. My cab driver at Gatwick the other week, when I asked him to take me to The Grand Hotel, Brighton, said, quick as a flash, "I know where that is". What was he really saying? "I have not got a Scooby Doo but I hope I know where that big famous hotel is." And what we are really saying during the team sales meeting is, "But I don't THINK they'd do that, I HOPE they'd never do that..."

(My cab driver asked me for the postcode of The Grand- I told him it was on the seafront, near the pier- then he spent a hairy ten minutes punching THE GRAND HOTEL into his sat nav while negotiating traffic and roundabouts. This got easier for him when we were doing a straight-line nifty 70 on the motorway.)

So when preparing for any meeting that aims to nudge a relationship along in the right direction. Or one in which you could be talking tough or working through a tricky issue, do this: think the unthinkable. Consider what the worst outcome might be and run it through in your head. Write it down. And in case you think I'm being pessimistic here, run the best outcome too but that's for another day. Be aware of getting overcome with positive emotion or making assumptions that are not true. Be careful of putting hope over expectation.

The Snip and I built a house recently and our builder pointed us towards an online auction site. Bidding goes right up to the wire and we did just that for three top-notch shower controls. They were worth about £1500 and we got them for £300. Result. The last few minutes were a frenzy as we got all of our lots. What could possibly go wrong? Well, the valves were missing. We had only bought the front plates: my builder said they were dummies. I felt they were not the only dummies.

The bling of the shiny turquoise boxes with beautifully crafted chrome inside had seduced us when we went to see the goods the day before and we got a bit ahead of ourselves. We were as keen as teenagers in a mobile shop with a six month old handset, high on Red Bull and blue Smarties, craving a new contract. We saw no downside. I'm glad I never bid for the S Class Mercedes and touring caravan in the car park.

Considering the worst does not mean expecting or assuming it; it's all about being aware of it and armed for it. It rarely happens, but I can see the future and occasionally it does. One of the clues the worst might be heading your way is when you all get a bit too keen, too wrapped up in the warm glow of anticipated success, or you all start believing that the other side just would not do that. Right there, make that mental note. Now you're ready.


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