Build It And They Will Come


“If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.”


The principles are the same regardless of your title. Not everything is about the Sale.

“Opportunities don’t happen, you create them.”

~Chris Grosser

I will never forget a conversation I had with a former manager. He was one of my many mentors and an absolute pleasure to work with. He said to me “I always wondered if the predominantly male sector was nurturing enough for you?”

The reason for his comment I presume is due to my career choice of working in male dominated sectors. Construction, Roofing, Lumber, Concrete, etc., I met many wonderful people in the field. It is the highlight of what I consider to be a successful start to my career and now its time to pay it forward.

The most important aspect of Sales is your willingness and commitment to build the relationship. Add value by demonstrating the products and services you are offering. If you know who your competitors are, you will know what the value is.   Be all ears and listen to the message your customer is expressing.

Don’t waste their time going on and on. Introduce yourself, the Company you represent and the reason for your visit. Never push products or services on a Customer during the initial meeting.

I won’t lie and say it doesn’t take hard work because it does. Follow-up within 24 hours of the initial sales call by sending an email thanking them for their time and letting them know that if you can help in anyway to reach out. Every few weeks (3), touch base by picking up the phone, leaving a message or sending an email. Always leave it in the Customer’s hands to get back to you but follow-up regardless.

Let me share an experience with you of what happens and what is possible when you don’t quit. I was working in the Refractory Industry (Refractories are a critical part of the operation of most high temperature units).

I was trying to get into this one business and kept leaving messages or sending follow-up emails. Nine months later I receive a call from the Customer to come and do an inspection on one of their vessels. To make a long story short, I wouldn’t be in town so I had arranged for one of my Construction Managers to fly out and do the inspection. We quoted the Customer and were awarded the work. During the initial call the Customer had commented that he was willing to give us a shot because he remembered that I’ve been calling or emailing every few weeks.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

~Jim Ryun

The work was completed to the Customer’s Satisfaction. In fact, we not only took business away from our Competitors but, signed a 5-year maintenance agreement for future repairs.

Many sales professionals may think it isn’t worth investing the time, but like any Company or Entrepreneur knows, you must be willing to invest the time and grow the relationship.

“The starting point of all achievement is desire.”

~Napoleon Hill

It does not matter what industry or product you are selling, what is important is that you consider the following:

Using the above example who are the key people to contact? i.e. Maintenance Engineers, Maintenance Planners, Plant Managers, Purchasing …

  • Identify who the decision makers are and go talk to them.
  • Identify who looks after the work i.e. Shutdown Planner or Maintenance Manager

Is the an existing “Contract in Place?” Ask:

  • Does this mean they do all, of your maintenance work?
  • When does, this Contract expire and who will be deciding who the next contract will be awarded to?
  • Who do I have to see right now to determine if we are a “Qualified Bidder.” If you are not, ask how to get your Company prequalified and “Who you need to see.”
  • When is the work to take place and what is the work?
  • Do you have all your Maintenance for this year planned?
  • Are you having a Maintenance shutdown that includes Refractory work?

If you are talking to the decision maker, ask:

  • Is there anyone else here that I should see that we would be working with?
  • Does purchasing have an influence on who does the work? If so, Who in Purchasing can I talk to.

If you are not talking to the decision maker, ask:

  • Who will be making this decision?
  • Who are the people, is it one individual or a group of people?
  • I am new on the block, so I want to make sure I have all my bases covered.

If you lose an order, find out why. Ask:

  • Were our prices high i.e. Labour or Equipment rates. Where did we miss the boat?

“All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.”

~Michael John Boba

If there is a sign on the door indicating NO SOLICITING and you don’t know who to contact, walk in and say something. IE., Introduce yourself and the Company you represent. Explain that you don’t know who to contact and would it be possible to leave some information and obtain a contact name. This way you have an opportunity to follow-up and the Customer has your info.   Never lose out on the opportunity to leave your information. And remember to follow-up.

“Trust because you are willing to accept the risk, not because it’s safe or certain”


There is a big difference between arrogance and confidence. When you are confident, there is nothing that will stand in your way of getting there.

“Why settle for ordinary when you can stand out and be different.”

“Telling a story is one of the best ways we have of coming up with new ideas, and also of learning about each other and our world.”

~Richard Branson


Suzana Matkovic
Suzana Matkovic
SUZANA has a PhD from the School of Hard Knocks. With the guidance of a loving family, she aspired to the best job of Life: Motherhood. People that know her journey will understand how this beautiful and tragic chapter forged her resilience and tenacity to bring her passions to life by being part of the change. Upon graduation in 84, she moved into an extremely successful 30-year career. Nonetheless, she walked away from it in 2014, in order to pursue something more personally meaningful. A School of Life that enabled her to meet people of different nationalities, cultures, races, languages and outlooks, is what she sought. She is an avid advocate and volunteer motivated to help others reach their full potential by raising awareness of numerous social issues affecting many and establishing a legacy for change. Suzana’s training and experience have provided her with a unique foundation from which to produce communication that is Significant, Relevant and Actionable. Her knowledge in sales/business development and marketing started in the early 90’s where she received numerous awards for innovation, customer satisfaction and quality management. She has worked in all business categories: Local Government, Manufacturing and Distribution, Logistics and Lumber Export. Some of the more notable products and services were sold into the Environmental Energy Sector and building products that represented Structural, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical and Architectural Engineering. In addition to Marketing initiatives for various NGOs and causes near and dear to her heart. All this was accomplished by a high school graduate with determination, vision and passion. She attributes her success to many wonderful mentors throughout her personal and professional life and the inner strength God blessed her with.

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  1. Suzana, this is great. What an incredible boss to ask you if the workplace was nurturing enough for you. I have never been asked that by any boss, or even in any relationship I’ve been in, bar one. I do agree with your opening statement, although I say “If nothing changes, nothing changes”. I’m not in sales, but the same principles you have written about apply to any pursuit in life/business. You establish a relationship that you’re there for the long term. I remember I worked for a company that bought most of Australia’s private hospitals in one hit (although they have doubled in size since I left them). We got 25,000 phone calls on day one from all the staff (approximately), so much so that our phone system died. So I got all the staff in head office who were assigned to each hospital to write to the Director of Nursing of their hospitals are the Managers and introduce themselves and give their emails and direct phone numbers. We then went out and did a site visit with me and the operator involved with each hospital and met the staff. Problem ended. Not one operator in the previous five owners had set foot on the premises. We took back to the board branding issues and assured all the staff that we were there forever.

    It had everyone on side instantly. And 15 years later, they are still the owners. They knew us and we knew them. So simple but so effective. The staff loved us. Our job was then to build on that relationship. “The habit kept us going” as you put it. I’m not sure that every no leads to a yes. But to be consistent, friendly and not pushy certainly moves mountains. Keeping your word; and getting a relationship with the decision makers; is paramount in everything. Even in dealing with human catastrophes, you ask the person (police or whoever you deal with) for the seniors name, and set a time span of action and if the worker doesn’t deliver, you climb the ladder until the action you need is taken. Excellent article. Thanks

    • Rod, Thank you for sharing your experience. You care, and you shared. 🙂 I understand where his message was coming from and as I said, he was a wonderful example to work with. Truthfully he was the first who told me to get involved in Public Service with not-for-profits. I can’t say he wasn’t right in this regard. As you know its very rewarding to give back from your heart. As for work/sales, it has been my experience and still is today, that not being pushy and focusing more on the relationship aspect can generate more profitable results for the long term benefit of the Company. If the intent is just to make a buck, the Customer senses it. Make it real. Many articles are written about Sales professionals that don’t follow-up and the statistics. That is what prompted me to write about what I found worked for me and I believe it can work for others. Thanks again bud!