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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."

 

Ever Ask Your Reps This Question?

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Sales meetings are typically focused on different variations of one question: What have you done for the company lately? For example:

  • What are your sales figures?
  • How many calls did you make?
  • How are your receivables?
  • What’s your plan to grow your business?

A question that smart companies ask is one that turns the tables: What can the company do for you? When asked sincerely and accompanied with a follow-up, the results of that question can have a tremendous impact on the first one.

This might come as a shock to you, but salespeople are known to complain every now and then. It doesn’t take the investigative reporting of Ron Burgundy to figure that one out. Estimating is too slow. Production screws up their jobs. Heck, “This place would fall apart if it wasn’t for me” is a common belief emanating from the Sales Department. Most sales managers listen and ignore. They understand that whining is a part of the job and it ebbs and flows, for the most part.

But what if the question of how to improve internal affairs was put to the salespeople on a regular basis (like at the monthly Sales Meeting)? What if improvement issues were acted on? And what if the following month’s meeting included a follow-up on actions taken?

Actually, I don’t need to ask, “What if?” I already know the answer because I have a client doing this now. Although they have just started this practice, it is already having a strong, positive impact.

A salesforce that feels heard becomes connected with the company. Since most reps have an entrepreneurial approach to their jobs, this is no small accomplishment.

Asking, “What’s wrong?” honors the sales rep(s) with respect. That feeling manifests itself in a number of positive ways. Good things happen when you feel a part of the team.

Conversely, carrying on with a, “Your job is to sell, not think” approach results in an “Us vs. them” environment that is already prevalent in many companies. Even if a sales rep had a good idea, he or she likely wouldn’t share it since they feel that no one is listening to them anyway. Why should they care?

It’s a simple human need, that of being asked your opinion on a matter. And as the saying goes, Ask and you shall receive.

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 bfarquharson@napl.org.

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