The Outcome: First Impressions

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In part two of The Outcome, John Copeman sets the scene with the first meeting with fictitious company All Filters International. If you have a question for JC, please add a comment at the foot of this article or send an email to [email protected].

Following a referral, I received a telephone call from a Bill Proctor of All Filters International. After a brief conversation (I get the impression that Bill is busy and has little time to talk) a meeting is arranged, as Bill would like to discuss a coaching programme for his business.

I arrive at the offices of All Filters International 20 minutes before the scheduled meeting time and I sit in the car and check through the material I have researched on the company.

Established in 1934 by two friends, and originally maintaining compressed air equipment. The company has grown to have offices in 62 countries, employing approximately 5,000 people and is focused on manufacturing, selling and maintaining a wide variety of filters and filtration equipment to a bewildering array of industries.

I am meeting Bill Proctor (head of EMEA Sales and Distribution) at the UK offices in Telford, and it’s time I went in.

With 10 minutes to go before our meeting I arrive at reception. I am greeted politely but with some disinterest, by a woman who is having great trouble with a multi-page fax that the machine dislikes immensely.

“I’m sorry,” she says as she gives up and leaves the fax for the moment, “that machine and I just don’t get along! How can I help you”?

I tell her of my name and company and that Bill Proctor is expecting me for a meeting at 2pm.

“Oh I see” she says, “I didn’t know that Mr Proctor was here today. I’ll try to find him for you, please take a seat”

As I find a seat and help myself to a coffee from the machine in the plush reception area, I hear the receptionist making several calls to different departments. Finally she speaks to someone who has seen Mr Proctor, and asks if she could let him know that I am in reception. She then returns to battle with the fax machine again.

It is 15 minutes and a further request from me later that Judy (as I found out her name is) tells me Mr Proctor has been found. “He will be with you soon,” she says.

At 2.15pm Mr Proctor’s PA arrives in reception and introduces herself as Shelia Warren. “Mr Proctor can see you now Mr Copeman. Please follow me,” she says as she about-turns and marches rather than walks towards the lift at the far end of reception. I gather my briefcase, and catch up with her as she reaches the lift.

“Ah there you are, I thought I’d lost you,” she said smiling. “We are so busy today and I didn’t know you were expected, I’m sorry if you have been waiting long.” “Not a problem” I assure her, “I was enjoying a coffee and reading through the company magazines.” (Which I had noticed were produced quarterly.)

The ride up to the 4th floor was swift and uneventful. Containing only the briefest of small talk about the inclement weather we had been having, and wasn’t it typical that it was always nicer in the week than at the weekends.

We arrived into the offices themselves, and Shelia led me into the boardroom (smart but functional) where Bill Proctor was waiting.

As I entered the room, Bill (a large framed man with in a sharp suit) got up from the desk and came to me with his hand outstretched. “John, good to meet you.” He took my hand and gave it a short firm grasp and shake, and then motioned me to take a seat.

He asked Shelia to organise coffee, and he took his seat and said: “Sorry about the delay, I was in a sales meeting as we have some problems in the Northern region, but I’ll get back to that when we’re finished. That’s one reason I wanted to see you. We need some help in organising the sales in the UK, as we have had quite a turnover of salespeople in the last few months, and finding new ones and getting them up to speed is a real problem.”

I sat with Bill for just over an hour and uncovered important information on the company, and their current needs. I agreed to put in a proposal for the work Bill was looking for, which he would then process through head office in Germany so we could make a start as soon as possible.

* Catch up with all instalments of The Outcome, including a profile of John Copeman at here.

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