Selling My Way Into Morgan Stanley

Corey Weiner

In 2010, before reality hit me that I am far more effective as a one-man sales force sitting at a desk with a fountain pen than I ever was out schmoozing and physically courting clients at big New York Stock Exchange firms, I was a field sales rep in banks and investment companies including UBS, Comerica Wealth Management, Wachovia (present-day Wells Fargo Advisors) and, for a brief time, Morgan Stanley.

Down in Aventura (North Miami Beach, Florida) is one of Morgan Stanley's top five revenue-earning offices in the country. (Or it was at the time anyhow.) They occupy two or three floors inside the JP Morgan Chase building there and house a sales force of probably 60 financial advisors.

I called for two months. Nothing.

So I went to Plan B: called the complex manager's assistant and asked her for five minutes with him.

“We have 10 vendors and your product portfolio we already have in here if I'm not mistaken,” he said. (He was a total corner office guy and head of their entire profit center there. High-back leather chair elevated to position him higher than anyone else and all.) “So, if I put you in the sales meeting next week in front of the team, what are you going to tell them they can use?” he asked, sort of rhetorically — implying he was just not interested.

Situations like this happen all the time, especially in professional services.

I had nothing to lose.
I couldn't even get into their complex for months and this guy basically didn't care to do business anyhow. My superiors wanted new business activity, as did I. So sometimes — if you have a strong metaphoric offensive line and confidence in your playbook — you keep the ball on the ground on third and two because it's too late in the game to force a punt.

“Well everyone has products. It's the intellectual capital, follow through and competent project management, isn't it?” I replied. “When your top sales producer in here gets in front of a millionaire, hoping to manage his or her investments, and that millionaire says ‘I am filthy rich. That means I can call Credit Suisse, Citi, Marsh's Private Clients Group, Mario Gabelli in Palm Beach and 20 more like you, what's so special about you Mr. Morgan Stanley?’, what does your guy say? He explains why he's really good at investments as honestly as he can the best way he can. And then shuts up and hopes for the best,” I said. 

I spoke at Morgan Stanley's sales meeting the following week to an audience of over 50 salespeople with notoriously short attention spans. Instead of taking the full 20 minutes they had me down for, I opened by saying, “I really know not only my business and products well, but how they fit into what you guys do. How they will help your business. And I need only about seven minutes to explain it.”

Case in point: when you know and understand the customer/partner/whomever you seek to collaborate with or set an appointment with, politely convey it with conviction.

They will respect you for it and give you their time.

Corey Weiner is a communications manager and advertiser-side troubleshooter at Third and Two Intellectual Capital Partners.