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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."

 

Feature Dumping

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Last night I went looking at cars. Though I had already decided on a VW Jetta TDI (diesel), I promised my Dad I’d look at the Hyundai line (he’s a Consumer Reports follower). I walked in to the dealership and immediately went into the rope-a-dope defensive position as the wolves circled the fresh meat. One rep asked if he could help. I asked him which of these vehicles would most comfortably house my 6’6” frame. “This one!” offered a different rep and I sauntered that way.

The minute I sat down and pulled my legs in, the feature dumping began: “You know, this car goes 0-60 in 5.7 seconds. It’s only a 4 cylinder, but it has 190 horsepower. The model you are in is the SE. It has a sunroof and blah blah as well as a navigation blah blah. Plus, blah blah blah and blah blah blah.”

As a sales trainer, I am cursed. Imagine being a food critic and walking into a restaurant. You immediately see everything they ought to be doing. The food is good, but not great. The waiter said this, but he should have said that. You are tough to please. That’s how I feel when I am on the customer end of a selling situation. This feature-dumping bonehead had no chance.

I hopped out of the car and said, “How do you know any of those things matter to me? You have not asked one question yet.”

You’d have thought I’d thrown cold water in his face.

“Like what?” he asked.

“How about, ‘What are you looking for in a car? What are you driving now and what do you like about it? What is the most important aspect to a vehicle? How have your car needs changed?’ ”

Needless to say, I lost a friend.

Very quickly, Tony the sales manager (is it a requirement that they are all named Tony?) came to his rescue and the ship was righted. Mr. Feature Dump sulked in the corner, hopefully learning a lesson but likely just pissed at the customer.

The TV show, “What’s My LIne?” used to do a skit where the entire conversation had to be done in question format. That kind of schtick would be good for a sales rep. You learn nothing with your mouth open and asking questions forces you to be in listen-only mode. Maybe Tony will get through to him.

As for the car, I am not likely to buy a vehicle with a $5,000 “market adjustment fee” tacked on to the sticker. When I saw it (and after I stopped laughing), I had a question of my own for Tony: "Are you kidding me?"

Note: The next Sales Challenge starts Thursday, June 3 at noon ET. Go to www.TheSalesChallenge.com for more information or call Bill at (781) 934-7036.

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COMMENTS

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Most Recent Comments:
P Sperling - Posted on June 01, 2010
Obviously the sales manager didn't ask the right question of you. "Have any teenagers driven this car?" Otherwise your trade-in would've been much lower.
Bill Farquharson - Posted on June 01, 2010
I was surprised when they discounted the TDI by about $1000 and gave me a FORTUNE for my Volvo. Can't wait to see the MPG on that bad boy.
P Sperling - Posted on June 01, 2010
Don't be surprised on a "market adjustment fee" on the TDI. The 1st question usually asked after hearing about our '05 Jetta TDI, is "How did you find one?" More on topic, a good self reflection question is, How could printers create a service or product which they could charge a "market adjustment fee"?
TJ Tedesco - Posted on May 28, 2010
So true! I bumped into a stat a while back claiming the best sales reps ask 25x as many questions as their laggard peers. It's so frustrating to hear print sales reps do the data dump, and think they did a wonderful job presenting their company's services. Egads. Keep up the good work Tony, er, I mean Bill.
Kelly - Posted on May 27, 2010
Bill Love this story - I like to call it the spray and pray method, which was how I was originally trained to sell back in the day. It's too bad that the sales guy didn't see what a gift you had given him and decide he really had an opportunity to learn something fantastic that could change his life (and his wallet). Great story!
Click here to view archived comments...
Archived Comments:
P Sperling - Posted on June 01, 2010
Obviously the sales manager didn't ask the right question of you. "Have any teenagers driven this car?" Otherwise your trade-in would've been much lower.
Bill Farquharson - Posted on June 01, 2010
I was surprised when they discounted the TDI by about $1000 and gave me a FORTUNE for my Volvo. Can't wait to see the MPG on that bad boy.
P Sperling - Posted on June 01, 2010
Don't be surprised on a "market adjustment fee" on the TDI. The 1st question usually asked after hearing about our '05 Jetta TDI, is "How did you find one?" More on topic, a good self reflection question is, How could printers create a service or product which they could charge a "market adjustment fee"?
TJ Tedesco - Posted on May 28, 2010
So true! I bumped into a stat a while back claiming the best sales reps ask 25x as many questions as their laggard peers. It's so frustrating to hear print sales reps do the data dump, and think they did a wonderful job presenting their company's services. Egads. Keep up the good work Tony, er, I mean Bill.
Kelly - Posted on May 27, 2010
Bill Love this story - I like to call it the spray and pray method, which was how I was originally trained to sell back in the day. It's too bad that the sales guy didn't see what a gift you had given him and decide he really had an opportunity to learn something fantastic that could change his life (and his wallet). Great story!