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Peter Cox is a serial entrepreneur with an impressive background in the financial services and loyalty card industries. Having floated his first company in the early 80’s for over $100 million, Peter went on to co-create the Tesco Club Card in 1994 and continued to play a central role in the loyalty card industry with other major brands such as Nectar, whilst also working with Barclays to launch their first chip card products.
In 2008 Peter founded Contis Group Ltd, an exciting fintech firm that provides end to end banking and payment programmes for international businesses. In its short lifespan, Contis have brought on some of the largest brands and are currently experiencing a staggering 15% month-on-month growth.
One consistent theme throughout Peter’s career has been his ability to win the big deal, so we met with Peter to learn his key principles to sales and pitching.
1. Never be afraid of failure – I’ve consistently taken on deals that are 10 times bigger than we appeared to be ready for at the time. My philosophy is simple – bite off more than you can chew and then find a way to swallow it. When we won the Tesco Club Card deal every member of the management team worked through Christmas Day. If you’re only ever looking for work that you’re already set up to deliver, then at best you’re going to tread water. Progress is not meant to be comfortable.
2. Think and talk as if you’re already in the big league – you’ve got to make big but honest statements like “We intend to be the world leader” – the fact that right now you might be 495 is entirely academic.
3. Look the part – we all make judgements in the first few seconds and that determines everything that follows. Turn up well presented, punctual and in control. Otherwise you’ll be on the back foot before you’ve even started.
4. Don’t pre-judge others – this may seem to contradict the previous point but just because others may pre-judge you, doesn’t mean you should allow yourself to pre-judge others. Sometimes the least imposing guy in the room is actually the most powerful, so keep an open mind and make the same enthusiastic effort with everyone.
5. Learn your pitch word for word – the delivery needs to be on virtual autopilot so you can focus on the signals of the buyer rather than getting the right words out. That’s the single most important lesson to pitching I ever learnt.
6. Don’t lie – sure, paint a good picture, but don’t ever cross the line into deceit. You only need to be found out once and that reputation will stay with you forever.
7. Remember that people = business – I’ve done so many deals where our balance sheet had no right to get us through the door, but the people signing it off trusted me. No deal is out of reach if you’re able to build the right relationship.
8. Trust your instinct – it’s corny but true, every time I’ve gone against my gut I’ve regretted it.
9. Stop talking – in negotiation the person sat silent is usually the one in control as they’re the one listening and learning. Learning to handle an awkward silence is one of the most important assets a salesperson can acquire.
10. Remember there’s no such thing as luck – luck is about exposure so the more you put yourself out there the luckier you become. The hard working guy will beat the inspirational guy every day of the week!
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