Sales Comp Plans, Revisited –Farquharson

Memo to: TJ Tedesco
RE: Your column idea

TJ, your “Take no prisoners” column on sales compensation in the April issue brought back a lot of memories and really got me thinking about the subject. As you know, the subject matter is a lightning rod for controversy regardless if you’re setting up a new plan, changing an existing plan, or writing about it for Printing Impressions. But allow me to take a walk down memory lane.

There are a lot of reasons to get into sales. For me, freedom was a leading factor. So was income potential. The job of “sales” is as close as you can get to being an entrepreneur without actually walking that tightrope. You are in charge of your own destiny, for the most part, and your income is directly related to your success at your job.

I remember my brother pulling me aside to show me the wad of cash he was carrying. He had just gotten his first commission check as a salesman and he had never seen that much money in his life. Neither had I. It was at that moment that I decided to follow his footsteps and go into sales.

One of the things you touched on in your column was coming up with a compensation plan for salespeople that struck a balance between the profitability of the job and maintaining sales ethics. The point you made was that a salesperson could possibly be swayed into suggesting a print solution on the basis of his or her commission, instead of what’s right for the customer. I agree and have experienced that issue myself.

The company that I first worked for when I left college—in truth the only real job I’ve ever had—paid 8 percent commission for new business and 5 percent of the order for repeat business. We were very well-trained and taught to look beyond the price of the job and do our best to reduce the cost of using that printed piece. Our goal was to come up with a different solution, very often something completely new and different. And untested.

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
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