Farquharson/Tedesco on Business Development: Sales: Harder Now or Before?

Today’s print sales reps grumble that it’s harder than ever to land new business. Decision-makers hide behind voice-mail and caller ID. “No one ever calls me back,” they moan. Prices are all over the map and customer loyalty is a thing of the past. Doors are locked and business is less personal than it used to be, and on and on. In fact, some claim that all aspects of sales have never been more difficult than they are right now. “Things were better in the old days.” But is that really true?

Is it harder to sell now or way back when? Let’s look at a few sales challenges and make a comparison. Before we begin, let’s define “way back when” as the pre-Internet era. If you need a more specific date, let’s go with the early ’80s. Mullets were hot and disco was dead. Okay. Let’s have a look…

Sales Challenge #1: Finding a Hot Prospect

THEN—Identifying prospects took on two forms, primarily: You could work from a list or you could use your eyes and perform what was called “prospecting by driving around.” Lists were outdated the second they were printed, but that is offset by the fact that people used to stick to one job longer, so they had a longer shelf life.

NOW—Google. Giga Alerts. LinkedIn. Jigsaw. Hoover’s. What more is there to say?

Regardless of whether it’s today or yesterday, the process of growing new business starts with identifying worthy prospects. There is a difference between finding a prospect and finding a quality prospect. Al Gore has given us a tool that makes it possible to scan through mountains of data until we find just the right company or companies to call on. With just a few keystrokes, it is possible to uncover hot markets, hot verticals and hot prospects. In addition, the Internet has made networking easier and faster. Answer: Harder then…in a landslide!

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
T.J. Tedesco is a sales growth, business strategy, marketing and PR consultant operating at the intersection of clear vision, compelling content and effective outreach practices. For nearly two decades, T.J. has been an independent consultant and sales growth team leader. Previously, he sold commercial printing, graphic arts machinery and supplies, and finishing and bindery services. T.J. helps North American companies with content development, Web and print design leadership, nurture marketing programs, sales coaching, sales team alignment and business strategy. Since 1996, T.J. has worked with more than 100 clients on retainer, 80 percent in the graphic arts industry. T.J. is author of "Win Top-of-Mind Positioning," "Playbook for Selling Success in the Graphic Arts Industry," "Fire! How Marketing Got Hot," "Direct Mail Pal" and four more books published by PIA. He can be reached at (301) 404-2244 or tj@tjtedesco.com.
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