Worst Sales Call Ever: My Ace Greenberg Story

I’ve made thousands of sales calls in my career, and not all of them went well. Reading of the death of Alan “Ace” Greenberg brought back memories of the worst call I ever had.

It was in the early 90’s. I working for the New York Mets, in charge of the Diamond View Suites, the skyboxes at Shea Stadium. Word came down from my boss that Fred Wilpon, the owner of the team, wanted me to sell a suite to Bear Stearns. I was to call Ace Greenberg’s office and use Fred’s name to get an appointment.

The phone call secured the meeting, and on the appointed day and time I was ushered into a private elevator and delivered to Ace Greenberg’s desk. Not a private office… a desk in the middle of the trading floor. We shook hands and he said, “So what’s on your mind?”

I told him I handled the Diamond View Suites at Shea, and began to ask him a question about Bear Stearns’ corporate entertaining. His phone rang, and I stopped mid-sentence as he answered it. He spoke for a minute or so, hung up and gestured for me to continue.

I started again, and his assistant showed up with some papers to sign. Once that was over, I managed to get a question out and he started to answer it… and the phone rang again.

This pattern continued until his assistant came back, Greenberg stood up and said, “Thanks, Phil, I’ll think about it.” Less than 20 minutes after I’d first set foot in the private elevator I was exiting that same elevator and standing on the street, with no idea what had just hit me.

Bear Stearns did not sign up for a Diamond View Suite that year.

I spent a long time trying to figure out what I could have done differently, and finally concluded that it was a pointless exercise. I called because Fred Wilpon told me to call. Ace Greenberg really wasn’t interested, but met with me as a favor to his friend Fred. We went through the motions because we had to, and then both got back to more productive activities.

RIP, Ace.


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