22. Sam Fajner, Regional VP of Client Relations

Regional Vice President of Client Relations and Development for Teecom, Samuel Fajner has +13 years experience networking, researching the market, managing sales and business development, and identifying opportunities and potential clients for his firm.

How does your job fit into the marketing process? In my previous position as marketing director for KMD Architects, I was in charge of both business development and marketing where I led public relations, communications, advertising and business development.

With Teecom, as regional vice-president of client relations, I’m responsible for the entire sales process from business development to close of contract. I research the market and find opportunities for the firm, identify potential clients and architects that may need our servcies. I conduct cold and warm calling, I do a lot of social networking: breakfast and lunch meetings, dinner cocktails with both existing clients and potential, attend industry events, real-estate and construction, city planning and urban planning development. I spend 80% of my time out of the office networking.

For example, in any given architectural contract, as many as 10 companies may respond to the client’s call to offer to pitch their idea. These 10 companies need consultants like Teecom to design their infrastructure, security, etc. My success is measured by the number of teams I will be on to propose services. So if 10 teams pitch their idea to the client and I’m on all 10 of the team’s pitching to the client, then Teecom has a 100% chance getting the project.

My success relies on the quality of relationships I build. To be invited onto as many team’s projects as possible, I rely on relationship building and trust which allows me to be a part in future teams proposals.  At the end of the day it’s the revenue I bring, some I win and some I lose. At end of year if I bring in $2-4 million in projects, this is how my my company measures how well I’m doing.

What social networking techniques do you use? In today’s economy there’s a diffence in the way you perceive sales people. In the 1980’s there were classes to learn how to close a deal. It was like robotic sales with people reading from a script. I’ve found that it’s not enjoyable and that it doesn’t build trust. Since then there’s been a huge shift, particularly in the US. Now it’s all about relationship. You first must learn to like and trust people, then comes the business. One of the reasons my company hired me was because I’m well networked.

What’s a misconception clients commonly have about the industry? Some clients tend to think that marketing is just fluff without realizing that marketing is the window for the world into their company. You know how people say that we judge individuals we meet in the first 30 seconds of meeting them for the first time, well brands are the same. If your messaging is wrong or the way you present your image is inadequate, then you’ve failed before you’ve even started. Learn your business and learn your pitch.

Marketing and communication are crucial components to the success of a brand. Look at successful companies today, their branding, marketing and communication strategies are impeccable, consistent, and easy to grasp in 30 seconds or less.

Marketing and communication is not fluff, it is the essence of the success of any business.

What’s your favorite ad campaign?

What’s an important lesson you’ve learned from your experience? Your brand is not what YOU think your brand is, it is what THEY (your client/customer) think it is. In the age of social media, you don’t tell people what you are, they tell you what you should be.

Then how does a brand control it’s image? Be extremely consistent. Think of every communication you send as branding, no matter what you do. Portray the same consistent image and communication with the same message.

Look at Nike and Apple, for example. Their logos have always been the same and their message consistent. It’s very controlled. If your message isn’t clear in your own organisation, it can’t be clear for your customers. Train everybody who picks up the phone, sends an email, and interfaces with the public so that they fully understand the branding guidelines and standards for your image and product(s), and that these guidlines cannot be changed.

What’s a website you often go to for ideas/inspiration? This Is Collossal.

Advice for someone who wants to do your job? If you work in graphics and design, remember, your client might not be always right, but he/she is the one paying you, so sometimes you may have to design something against your will and better judgement.

If you are in sales and business development, be genuine and be in it to help people and you will be successful. Every meeting you have with a client is an opportunity for you to bring value. Always ask yourself this question “What’s in it for them?”, it isn’t about you.

Lastly, LISTEN. Stop talking and truly listen.

I have a small advertising budget, any advice? If you have small advertising budget, then save it. Unless you sell a product that requires mass distribution to reach millions of customers, you will be better off focusing this money on your top 10 target.

What’s my top 10 target?  Your top 10 revenue producers. People you work with consistently and bring revenue to your firm. Building and maintaining relationships with your existing clients is the most powerful form of advertising. Focus on maintaining strong relationships so even if a competitor tries to penetrate your marketshare, you’re protected. You’ll go a much longer way spending $300 on a nice dinner with your #1 client than spending $300 on an ad in the paper or on the internet. Keep existing clients happy. It’s easier to keep current clients happy than find new clients.

So spend your money on getting client testimonials recorded on video and post them on your website. Third party acknowledgment is more powerful than all the bragging you can do.

Additional comments and advice? Success in any organization, for any individual can be boiled down to one word: Accountability. Always do what you said you were going to do, and go beyond.

The “Beyond the call of duty” is a vast and empty space. Stand out, do more than you are asked for, and do it with a smile. The rewards will follow.

Lastly, for people in sales and networking, learn the art of listening. Sales people who only talk about themselves are boring and lose clients. You learn 20 times as much listening to the client than thinking about what you’re going to say next.