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Bill Farquharson

The Sales Challenge

By Bill Farquharson

About Bill

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."


Do Twice as Much Listening Than Talking

Recently, I was on a bus from Boston’s South Station to Logan Airport. On the other side of the aisle was a man heading to Geneva via Charlotte and London. It was an unfortunate path given the fact that he would have to go right over Boston to get to London but it is what it is. He was in a cast. He was in the military. Military was a great option over college because of the options it gives you. He’d gone “underground” for a few years. He couldn’t talk about that. He broke his leg in two places after slipping on some ice. He was happy to talk about that. He was getting off of the bus soon. He didn’t need any help.

There’s more. Much more. But I will spare you.

The ride from South Station to Logan is approximately 12 minutes. In that time, I heard this man utter a lot sentences that begin with the word/letter, “I.” So many, in fact, that he really should have been on Sesame Street instead of the Silver Line train. He would be a perfect guest when the lesson of the day was proper use of self-serving conversation (or boring those around you, if they ever get around to teaching that). The only guest who would have been better would be Ricky Ricardo, who famously uttered, “I, yi. yi!” to Lucy when she had some ‘spainin’ to do. That would have made for a great puppet character, too (though the all-time best was Ross Perot...and don’t challenge me on this one!).

“I.” How often are we in conversation that involves someone droning on and on about themselves: I this and I that and I think and I feel I want and I am and I know and I hate and I, I, I....

But as much as this issue holds true for others, we need to be aware of the I, yi, yi in ourselves, as well. Are we commanding the conversation? Are we countering a client’s statement with one that (over) shares our opinion or thoughts in the matter? Are we anxiously awaiting the other person to stop talking so that we can spill the contents of our head?

My dad had great advice for me as a talkative teenager: You learn nothing with your mouth open. Dad was full of fortune cookie advice like that. Years later I’d tell him I was going to become a Consultant and he replied, “A Consultant is a man who knows 49 ways to make love but doesn’t know any women.”

Thanks, Dad.

God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. As the saying goes, do twice as much listening than talking.

You are a fascinating person, one who tells amazingly interesting stories. The world is anxious to hear your thoughts and opinions.

But not today.

The only way you will sell a solution is if you understand the problem. The only way to understand the problem is to listen for clues after asking qualifying questions.

Today it is all about the customer. Today we want to know what they are all about. We are interested in their thoughts and concerns and challenges. Your turn will come. Tomorrow.


Bill Farquharson is a Vice President at NAPL. His training programs can drive the sales of print reps and selling owners. Check out his Sales Resources page and contact him at (781) 934-7036 or

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