Other than the Green Bay Packers, I do not have a good sense of what is within the state of Wisconsin. I have been there one other time in my life, and I could not summon up a mental picture of my last visit, when I learned that I would be attending a summer sales meeting for one of our new clients.
The meeting was held at a beautiful resort on the shores of Lake Geneva, called the Abbey. I chose to fly into Chicago and have a car service pick me up and drive the 83 miles to Lake Geneva. The driver was an older fellow named Brad, who was a wealth of knowledge about “America’s Dairyland”. He pointed out the numerous farms and silos along the road and the hundreds of black and white cows, grazing in the pastures.
We did drive through some small towns, with well-kept houses and aging Main Street business districts.
As Brad arrived to the small town of Fontana, we could see the boats in the harbor and the distinctive A-framed building that housed the Abbey Resort. My colleagues had also arrived, and we headed to Chuck’s Seafood Bar, a seafood restaurant on Lake Geneva. I ordered an appetizer called “Soggies”, which was cut up French bread, dipped in au jus, with cheese and peppers cut up on top. It was delicious. The weather was a little cool and the rain set in after we made it back to the resort.
The sales meeting was for Duke’s, a company that works on underground infrastructure for cities. It was the first time for us to meet the entire sales team and they were an interesting group of people. Duke’s operates throughout the country and the sales team calls on hundreds of cities, each week. Many of the salespeople have been with the company for over 25 years and are experts at keeping sewer lines clean and in operation. The company has been growing and introducing new services that promises to save cities millions of dollars in infrastructure costs. While you might not think that there is much technology involved in keeping the sewer system operational, Duke’s uses trucks, equipped with sophisticated cameras that can travel throughout the system and provide a video record of every inch of a sewer system.
On our part of the program for the meeting, we walked through a case study of a business similar to Duke’s and pointed out how they grew and succeeded by approaching Mayors and City Managers, before calling on the Public Works Departments in the city. We also did role- play exercises to give the salesmen a taste of what it’s like to speak before a city council or at a conference with thousands of attendees. The session was a lot of fun and some of the Duke’s team said that it gave them a realistic view of the city sales process. The meeting lasted three days and we were soon on our way back home. The weather was not the best, with rain and little sun, but it was still an enjoyable place to visit, with more cows than people. Goodbye Wisconsin!