My friend Matt is both a salesperson and an engineer-a very unusual combination. Matt had a prospect who was responsible for the public structures owned by a county government, everything from playground equipment to bridges.
Matt specializes in the structural analysis of communications towers. This prospect sent out a request for proposals (RFP) for inspection of the county's communications towers, which are used for two-way radios and other communications systems.
Matt looked beyond the RFP at the entire assortment of structures his prospect managed. Instead of just submitting a proposal for the towers, Matt also pointed out that the county bridges were subject to the same stresses (weather, materials deterioration) as the towers. These stresses were potentially dangerous, so Matt proposed an inspection of the bridges using the same rigorous professional methods his firm applied to the towers.
This wasn't covered in the RFP, but Matt made the sale by creating an opportunity to study a potential problem that hadn't existed in the prospect's mind. He then created a solution to the need by designing a service that his firm didn't normally provide (bridge engineering). My friend's mind was open to the possibilities and he used creative selling techniques to create an opportunity.