Read these three strange tales of salesmanship, and ask yourself if you would go to these lengths to secure business-it sure worked for these entrepreneurs.
"I match qualified tutors with students. I arrived at a home for a consultation, only to hear the potential 'client'--a 6-year-old boy--screaming and yelling something totally unintelligible. The mother ushered me into the dining room to interview [the child]. I asked him, 'How are you today? You seem mad about something. What's going on?' He [climbed] on top of the dining room table and jumped up and down, shouting, 'I don't want a tutor!' This went on for about two minutes. So I removed my shoes, jumped up and down on the table with him and shouted, 'Why not? Our tutors are great!' Suddenly, he was quiet and said in a small voice, 'Really?' It was my first big sale, and the family stayed with our service for three years."
-Laurie Hurley, 49, president of Bright Apple Tutoring Service in Newbury Park, California, started in 2002, and Home Tutoring Business, a service selling turnkey tutoring businesses to other entrepreneurs, started in late summer 2005
"A headhunter called me out of the blue about interviewing with a company. Thinking I could pose as an interviewee, I decided to go [and pitch them]. When I got there, they were instantly wowed--they brought in their executive staff, and I started in on an almost boardroom-style presentation on how I could help their business. It got me a long-term contract with the company."
-Chris Consorte, 32, president and CEO of Integrated Direct LLC, a lead-generation marketing firm in New York City, started in 1999
"While going after a major account, i had a large cake made by a local bakery and delivered to the executive team during lunch hour--with the middle of the cake missing, except for the letters S and S. The next day, I had the middle of the cake delivered: It said, 'Here's the missing piece of your -ucces-!' and matched the cutout. We got the account!"
-Chip Cummings, 43, CEO of Northwind Financial Corp., a mortgage lending firm in Grand Rapids, Michigan, started in 1998