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Five tips from a successful businessman: Joe Dattilo

Accomplished executive and volunteer Joe Dattilo offers advice for success.

Story by Eddy Hoyle

Joe Dattilo has entered a new stage of life here in the Lowcountry, an exciting place to enjoy the outdoors golfing, boating, shooting and fishing at Palmetto Bluff. He retired in 2017 and moved to Bluffton full time in 2018 with his wife, Christine. He is already involved in the community serving on the board of the First Tee of the Lowcountry, as well as coaching in the First Tee Life Skills program.

Dattilo’s career spans decades, first in banking with Chemical Bank and Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. and then 30 years with mutual fund industry leader, Fidelity Investments. He led the sales organization working with the nation’s largest corporations to deliver 401K investment, pension and benefit plan services. Dattilo earned a BS in business administration from Rutgers College and his favorite quote comes from Dwight D. Eisenhower: “A plan is nothing; planning is everything.” Here are his tips for success.

Keys to Success

1. Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. Dattilo is emphatic that preparation in sales is imperative. Whether it’s a first call or the final presentation for a billion-dollar account, advance preparation is part of the process. “When you sell at this level,” he said, “it’s like an Olympic swimming competition where you win or lose by hundredths of a second. Practice makes perfect. You also must do your research. Study the client and their mission statement to determine how you can connect and position yourself above the crowd. What’s important to them? How does your solution solve their problem?”

2. Leave nothing to chance. “Hope is not a sales strategy,” Dattilo said. “The sales process can be lengthy. You need a strategy, a plan to attack each situation. At each step of the way you must earn the right to advance. You must set specific goals and develop action items. Otherwise you are leaving too much to chance.” Dattilo emphasized that it should be a detailed written plan and that the action steps might need to be revised to fit changing circumstances.

3. It’s all about relationships. “I’m a believer in developing strong relationships with sales prospects. Take time to build a relationship. All things being equal, people buy from people they like. It’s important to get that first meeting, but even more important to get the second meeting. Relationships are essential to help resolve bumps in the road, so learn about their business, their needs, and how your product or service can help them,” Dattilo explained. “References are critically important, and you can’t really ask for a reference if you don’t have a relationship.”

4. Lead the team. Large sales efforts are often team efforts. Dattilo said, “You need empathy to lead by example. Treat others with respect and be mindful of sensitivities to accommodate team members. Communicate with them and understand that there is no ‘I’ in team. Everyone has to understand the mission and communication is critical. In other words, everyone sells!”

5. Follow through! “Follow through and follow up” is Dattilo’s mantra. “It’s amazing how many sales professionals fall down at the finish line and do not effectively follow up,” he said. “Leave nothing unchecked. Follow up needs to be timely and complete, and to differentiate you from your competitors. I believe handwritten notes to thank clients for the opportunity to work with them demonstrate the importance of the relationship. Always thank them for their business and always strive to deliver more than you promised.”