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Harris DeWese

The Mañana Man Online

By Harris DeWese

About Harris

Harris DeWese is the author of "Now Get Out There and Sell Something." He is chairman/CEO at Compass Capital Partners and an author of the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of info regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed 100-plus printing company transactions and is viewed as the preeminent deal maker in the industry. He specializes in investment banking, M&A, sales, marketing and management services to printers.

 

Courageous Sales Tips —DeWese

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DON’T MOVE, or both of us will die,” shouted Wesley Autrey as he pinned a fallen commuter between the subway tracks before an onrushing subway train in Manhattan.

Wesley had been waiting for his train on the station platform with his two young daughters when a young man suffered a seizure and fell about eight feet to the tracks below. Wesley jumped down to the track bed, rolled the man between the tracks and lay on top of him as the train passed over them with two inches to spare.

Wesley is just a 50-year-old construction worker.

He is just a good father who was taking his daughters to school.

He is well-spoken, spontaneously funny, and ever so modest as I learned when I watched his appearance on “Late Night with David Letterman.” Then I saw Wesley’s remarks at the awards ceremony hosted by New York’s Mayor Bloomberg and legions of officials representing the city, the fire department, the NYPD and the Transit Authority.

When the mayor asked Wesley, who was holding one of his daughters, to step to the microphone, the hero made several extemporaneous and humble remarks about how Americans step forward in times of need. He said he only did what Americans do. He spoke without a stammer and without saying, “you know,” “like I said” or “um.”

Tugs at the Heartstrings

I’m a little iffy on quoting his remarks verbatim because I was getting a little weepy. That happens to me in the presence of ordinary people who have done extraordinary acts of charity, heroism or extreme selflessness.

Of course I cry during movies, especially the endings. I sobbed when Brando has his heart attack in the tomato garden in “The Godfather.” I used half a box of Kleenex during “Rocky.” I balled during the final scene of “Animal House.” You remember that parade scene where the Deltas finally extract their vengeance on Faber College’s Dean Wormer and the obnoxious Omegas. They were tears of joy, but I still cried.

I hope you are not disillusioned at the notion of your courageous and manly Mañana Man weeping in a dark theater or in the privacy of my office. Real men do eat quiche and they do cry.

Back to my subject. If you’ve been paying attention, it’s about courage.

Somewhere, oh around, about roughly, approximately 72 percent of America’s printing salespeople are sales cowards. Don’t get offended and huffy. You may be very brave racing your Harley on Interstate 95. You may have jumped off a bridge tied to one of those long bungee cords. Some of you may have doubled down on a $3,000 bet in a casino. So, okay, you are either courageous or drunk.

I said most printing salespeople are sales cowards. They cannot bring themselves to call a prospective account to ask for an appointment. The prospect might turn you away and you would feel awful.

These people suffer from call reluctance, which is an identified psychological disorder.

Many salespeople fear asking a customer for the order for work that has been estimated and proposed. That’s called “closing.” She could say, “I awarded the job to Intelligent Litho three days ago.” These rejected salespeople suffer a brutal blow to their psyche and, at least, temporary loss of self-esteem. For some, it’s permanent.

So why risk your mental health over a stupid printing job? It’s much safer to sit in your cubicle and hope for an e-mailed or faxed purchase order.

These salespeople are “closing” challenged.

Many of the same salespeople who are closing challenged also suffer from call reluctance. They exist on the handful of clients who had been assigned to them initially by management, thinking, “We will give him a few accounts to help him get started and at least he’ll be earning his draw.” Ten years later, these custodial salespeople are unhappy with themselves, the company and their handful of customers.

Wait! Did I say unhappy? That’s the common denominator. Salespeople who are either call reluctant or closing challenged are almost always unhappy people. Some manage to find a semblance of happiness in an avocation, a hobby or a relationship.

I better stop for a minute and explain this concept to Marvelle Stump, America’s worst print salesperson who works for Send Me the Money Litho down in Hot Coffee, MS.

Marvelle, you remember how unhappy you were in those other print sales jobs? Then your Uncle Herschel Liphart hired you at Send Me the Money Litho. You were unhappy there, even though Uncle Herschel promised your mama you would get a check whether you sold anything or not. You moped around the plant for a few weeks until you visited the casinos on the Gulf Coast and discovered that you have real talent for dice. Now you travel south to shoot craps every Friday afternoon. You found a hobby and you were happy.

Then, your 89-year-old Uncle Junior Stump turned sick with a bad stroke of the “who am I?” dementia. The family begged your help with his pig farm. You discovered you have a natural born talent for sloppin’ hogs. And, yep, now you’ve got an avocation.

You stopped at the Tri-Mi Truck Stop on your trips to the casino and fell head over heels in love with the waitress, Yolanda. So now you’re in a relationship and even happier.

Well, wouldn’t you know. You got Yolanda, the casino and hogs working for you, and your new-found happiness has got the print jobs rollin’ in.

There you have it. The new DeWese theory for print sales success. Either hire ’em happy or make ’em happy or send them to your competitors. Happy salespeople sell more printing.

Learn ’em Right

Maybe, there’s another option. Could it be possible to train ’em happy? You know. Give ’em the skills and knowledge needed to prospect for new business by making a lot of those formerly dreaded calls on prospects. Teach them all of the closing techniques and motivate them to ask for the order in dozens of ways. Could that work?

Our industry has never been good at training salespeople. I have seen countless new, or revolutionary, training consultants and small firms come and go. Our two associations, NAPL and PIA/GATF, have never consistently offered results-oriented seminars, workshops or courses. It seems like they could merge their efforts and developing a whopper of a sales training program.

We can train workers to operate the equipment, but we haven’t properly trained people to sell our offerings that now range from kitting to fulfillment to database management, and more.

I used to conduct training way back years ago, but I was never any good at it. I can sell and write about it, but I’m not good at teaching.

I can do it and write about it because I’m happy. I’ve often said that I’m too dumb to be anything but happy. But now I see how my Happiness Theory works for selling and how it has worked in my life.

It’s so simple. A happy sales force is a productive sales team growing the company with profitable sales. A growing, profitable company makes for a happy company, and buyers love to buy where they can find a little happiness.

Now make me even happier, show some bravery and get out there and sell something! It’s a lot less frightening than jumping in front of a subway to save a life. PI

—HARRIS DEWESE

About the Author
Harris DeWese is the author of Now Get Out There and Sell Something, available through NAPL or PIA/GATF. He is chairman and CEO at Compass Capital Partners and is an author of the annual “Compass Report,” the definitive source of information regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed more than 100 printing company transactions and is viewed as the preeminent deal maker in the printing industry. He specializes in investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, sales, marketing, planning and management services to printing companies. He can be reached via e-mail at DeWeseH@ComCapLtd.com.

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COMMENTS

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Most Recent Comments:
Stuart Schwartzberg - Posted on April 14, 2007
Hello Mr. DeWese, We met when you were giving a seminar at Von Hoffmann in early '03. We corresponded and I contributed to your column that May. Here's my question. Are there any industry standards for slight variations in trim size for heatset web based perfect bound book work. I always thought that the combination of paper, chemicals, ovens and chillers make slight variations in trim almost a given in the industry. I am having a debate with someone who says no such guidelines exist. Is that true? If you don't know the answer would you please direct me to someone who might. Thanks Stu Schwartzberg
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Archived Comments:
Stuart Schwartzberg - Posted on April 14, 2007
Hello Mr. DeWese, We met when you were giving a seminar at Von Hoffmann in early '03. We corresponded and I contributed to your column that May. Here's my question. Are there any industry standards for slight variations in trim size for heatset web based perfect bound book work. I always thought that the combination of paper, chemicals, ovens and chillers make slight variations in trim almost a given in the industry. I am having a debate with someone who says no such guidelines exist. Is that true? If you don't know the answer would you please direct me to someone who might. Thanks Stu Schwartzberg