SBD/December 12, 2013/Anniversary Special Issue

The Daily Hits 20: Former Sales Exec Scripts The Early Days Of SBD

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Salm recalls the initial office
having little natural light
Memories of Steve Salm, who worked in sales for SportsBusiness Daily from '95-96. He is now President of The Bicycle Music Company.

It's 1995. The setting is a damp basement of a townhouse in Alexandria, Va.
White tiled floors, relatively shoddy sheet-rocked walls. A small window that looked through bars into a stairwell. Little to no natural light. Two salesmen were hired by Jeffrey Pollack and David Abrutyn. Their job was to sell the first and only daily sports business publication the market had ever seen. Their mechanism to sell it was to pore over sports business directories, newspapers, magazines, yellow pages and referrals. The main initiative of the first contact with any person, once they were on the phone, was to offer them a two-week trial. The salaries were about $20,000 a year. Nonetheless, Steve Salm and Jeff Hochberg joined up to see if they could help build this new business.

DAY 1: The Beginning
Steve Salm: "Hi, my name is Steven Salm and I am calling from the SportsBusiness Daily." Cold-Call Victim: "I've never heard of the SportsBusiness Daily. How did you get my phone number and why are you calling me? Don't ever call me again." Steve Salm: "I'd like to tell you about the industry's only daily sports business publication ..." Click. Dial tone. Silence.

DAY 21: Becoming very comfortable with the sound of a dial tone
Steve Salm: "Hi, my name is Steven Salm and I am calling from the SportsBusiness Daily. Are you familiar with our publication?" Cold-Call Victim: "Nope." Steve Salm: "Well, it is the only one of its type in the marketplace. It is a daily that covers exclusively the world of sports business." Cold-Call Victim: "How much does it cost?" Steve Salm: "One thousand dollars." Click. Dial tone. Silence.

DAY 31: Are they listening? Sorta?
Steve Salm: "Hi, my name is Steven Salm and I am calling from the SportsBusiness Daily. I'd like to offer you a two-week free trial to our publication." Cold-Call Victim: "What is it?" Steve Salm: "It's a daily publication that highlights only sports business issues. No obligation. Given your job, I think it would be a great informational tool for you." Cold-Call Victim: "Mail me a copy." Steve Salm: "Well, sir, it is a daily. So if I mail you a copy it will be late and you won't be getting it timely or daily." Cold-Call Victim: "Here is my address. Mail me a copy. If I like it I will call you." Click. Dial tone. Silence.

DAY 45: Modest promise
Steve Salm: "Hi, my name is Steven Salm and I am calling from the SportsBusiness Daily. Are you familiar with our publication?" Cold-Call Victim: "No." Steve Salm: "It's the only publication in the marketplace that, on a daily basis, covers sports business, from marketing and sponsorships to financing to advertising." Cold-Call Victim: "How much does it cost?" Steve Salm: "One thousand dollars." Silence. Cold-Call Victim: "The USA Today costs 25 cents." Steve Salm: "I'm not here to charge you anything or convince you. All I ask is that you take a two-week free trial and I will call you at the end and get your feedback." Cold-Call Victim: "How do you possibly deliver something to me daily? Do you have delivery boys?" Steve Salm: "Fax. If you could give me your fax number I could start the trial tomorrow." Silence. Cold-Call Victim: "If this is a time-share scam or something like that I promise I am going to come after you." Steve Salm: "Give it a shot. I promise you've never seen an information source in this business niche. There is nothing out there to even compare it to." Cold-Call Victim: "OK, here is my fax number. But if this is a scam I will find you." I got a trial signed up! I got a trial signed up!!!!!

DAY 50: Reversal of fortune
Two-Week Free-Trial Taker: "Can I talk to a Steve Slam or Salam or Shlam or something like that?" Steve Salm: "This is Steve." Two-Week Free-Trial Taker: "What the hell are you doing to my fax machine?" Steve Salm: "What do you mean, sir?" Two-Week Free-Trial Taker: "Every day at 11 a.m. my fax machine starts spitting out pages and pages and pages and pages and pages with your logo on it. It never ends! I walk into my mail room and there are 17 pages all over my office floor from you guys. Stop with the faxing." Steve Salm: "Are you sure?" Two-Week Free-Trial Taker: "Yes! Stop the damn faxing!" Deflation.

DAY 60: Slight promise
Steve Salm: "Hi, my name is Steven Salm and I am calling from the SportsBusiness Daily. We are the only daily publication focused on the business angle of sports." Cold-Call Victim: "Interesting. Did you say daily?" Steve Salm: "Yes. I was hoping I could sign you up for a two-week free trial." Cold-Call Victim: "I'd love that. Sounds fascinating." Steve Salm: "Great! You will start receiving it tomorrow and I will follow up in 2 weeks to get your feedback." Hmmm. Maybe I won't quit today.

DAY 61-120: Every day, 6 times a day
Two-Week Free-Trial Taker: "Yeah, I am getting this free trial you signed me up for. The information is fantastic but along with the pages of paper strewn across my floor from the fax, pages 3-5 didn't fax through. Can you please re-fax those pages?" Steve Salm: "Sure."

DAY 121: We might be on to something here
Random Incoming Caller: "Hi, I am calling because I was in my friend's office. He's a sports lawyer. He's a big deal." Steve Salm: "OK." Random Incoming Caller: "I was waiting in his office for him and picked this thing up. This SportsBusiness Daily. I've never seen anything like this. Is this yours?" Steve Salm: "Well, I mean, it isn't mine, per se, but we created it here and publish it daily." Random Incoming Caller: "How do I buy it?" Steve Salm: "Buy it?" Random Incoming Caller: "Yes, buy it. This is exactly the type of information I need to run my business. Do you want my credit card? I want to start this tomorrow." Holy Sh*$%! Pollack and Abrutyn never told me what to do if someone actually wanted to buy this thing!
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