In 1970 just before I started my own company City Life I worked for Pat Dineen a very successful financial adviser. One of Pat’s strongpoints was that he saw the big picture. He was also a very good salesman/business negotiator and a good delegator. I got some excellent training watching Pat in action.
He was a great man to ask for business and to look for it on a grand scale. To give you an idea how he worked.
He could see at that time that the corner shop was changing and that franchise type supermarkets chains were being developed. He could see that this was creating long term business opportunities for the shop owners and instead of calling to individual stores unannounced he made contact with the franchise operator and created a pension plan in their name.
One of the groups at that time was the VG chain of supermarkets and so Pat had discussions with the group owners and designed the VG Pension Plan for all their supermarket owners.
My job as a young 24 year old was to call to supermarkets in the Cork, Kerry and Tipperary areas and try to get them to start saving some money on a regular basis for their retirement.
I can still remember sitting in my blue Ford Anglia (second hand) company car parked outside the supermarket trying to pluck up the courage to leave the car to call to the shop owner who I had never met before. I was really nervous and afraid of my business proposal being rejected.
I found then as I have found so often since that by and large people are really pleased to be asked for business and will do business with us if what we say makes sense to them and if they have the money to do the business with us at that time. Probably because I was young and nervous a good few of them did business with me out of kindness. I will forever be grateful to them as they gave me a little confidence to continue to work in this wonderful business.
I can remember having a chat with a good friend Norman Coleman, who at that time worked with my wife Mary in Bank of Ireland Finance. Norman was one the best finance salesmen I ever met. You would ask him for a loan for a car or a business or a horse or whatever and Norman would have the cheque made out to you before you had even formally applied for it. You would ask him what the interest rate would be and he would have his elbow over the cost of the loan repayments and the small print, and he would say “don’t mind that stuff just sign here”!
I trusted him and I knew he had to make a profit too!
Norman often said to me that people like to be asked to do business but naturally there will be many times that business will not be done at that time. There might be no spare cash, they might be doing business with someone else just then but in many situations even if business is not done at that time, by keeping in touch it is very common in my experience, that business will often happen later on and this can be very satisfying.
In other words he was saying, don’t beat yourself up if someone doesn’t do business with you right now as there probably is a good reason. Keep in touch but don’t annoy! He used to say that asking for business is like throwing pebbles into a lake. The ripples move out in ever increasing circles and you never know where they will finish.
Last week I did some business with a man who I contacted first when the five year government savings plan was introduced in Ireland in 2001. I met with his accountant at that time and made a few suggestions. No business was done then but I kept in touch. Last week’s cheque received from that same accountant on his behalf took a very long time to come but when the business eventually landed it was enormously satisfying.
Keep looking for business…….people like to be asked!
Ted Dwyer Family Business