RFP: Diary of an institutional salesman, part 8

This week, Will flirts with the opposition.

The last time I filled these pages, Dear Diary, I was preparing for a get-together with Gravitas's regional COO, who had asked to meet up about the Asian marketing role he needs to fill. The meeting had been set up by Mimi Yip, a pocket-rocket of a headhunter with Whittards.

The connection
Mimi had insisted on joining my appointment with Troy Douglas, even though it was just an informal beer at The Captain's Bar at the Mandarin. Troy, some kind of all-American superhero judging by his immense frame and bone-crushing handshake, has been with GgA for four years, first at head office in London before starting the first Asian desk in Singapore back in 2007. It has essentially been a one-man show since then, with most of the expansion plans put on hold to weather the GFC.

You know how sometimes you just click with someone? Well, that's Troy and me. We both understand this industry. It's about scale, it's about relationships, it's about making people want what you are selling.

We're a few beers into our budding bro-mance and I can see Troy feels that connection too -- it's like we've been buddies for years. I can really see myself doing a job for GgA; me and Troy together building something spectacular.

The VC
A few days later and it's back to Whittards for a VC to GgA London (they're still pronouncing it "gig-gay"). Does video-conferencing ever work properly? This is making me look bad. Finally we get through -- I spend the first three minutes making it clear that the VC delay is not my fault...

There are three senior execs on the line from England: the global head of business development, the head of global business development and the business head of global development.

They don't ask too many questions, but instead outline their plans for Asia, which clearly don't include Troy! Maybe this is my chance to get into C-level management straight away.

"I don't think your existing personnel out here fit in with your overall culture," I suggest. "You might want a less brash, but more results-based approach, which I can give you." They lap up my words, and the whole meeting is over in 25 minutes.

Throughout the call, Mimi sits just off camera and doodles on her pad. No need to take notes: the job is mine. She's definitely off with me to Dragon-i afterwards this time.

The wait
The next step is inevitably a trip to London to meet the GgA guys directly. I'm tempted to see if Mimi wants to come too. Whittards stand to make a small fortune from this deal, when it goes through. There's not much on for the next couple of weeks but I clear my diary anyway, and make a few subtle comments about possibly taking a short last-minute break. Jeff and Kim don't suspect a thing.

One whole week later and still nothing. My calls to Mimi have not been returned. Imagine my surprise when I saw her in Sevva with Gavin Price! He must be at the same stage with GgA.

At one point he leans back against the railing and I can't suppress an image of his mangled body evenly distributed forty storeys below. But then he'd make the headlines and that'd be too good for a mediocrity like him.

Maybe I should call Fifi, Mimi's boss? After the grilling two weeks ago, it's a ballsy move, but this is war.

Another few days and now Fifi's also not returning my calls.

The reveal
It's nearly two weeks since the VC, and still nothing from Whittards. I get the bad news second-hand, when a headhunter from RTG calls me about a role at Prime Alpha that sounds suspiciously like Gavin's. Someone has just left and they are keen to move quickly. William T Fitzgerald can put two and two together.

In retrospect, it's for the best. GgA's years away from winning the mandates that count. Besides, I'm a company man. It's all about the long-term relationship, not the one-night stands.

William T Fitzgerald is a fictional character, as are all the other individuals and companies in "RFP Diary". Any resemblance to the living or to real firms is purely coincidental. Will's adventures continue fortnightly.

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