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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."


How a Real Business Owner Wants to Be Sold

Bill’s note: While searching for a blog topic last week, I was Googling various topics and the following piece popped up. It is a recent blog post by the owner a restaurant in Provo, UT, called The Old Towne Grill. With the permission of the author, I am sharing his insight with you.

You might think I liked the post because Mr. Copeland sticks up for print. But, I liked it more because of the feedback he gives those of us in sales. My thanks go out to Josh.

A Letter of Advice from an Owner to a Salesman/Woman

by Joshua Copeland, The Old Towne Grill

This is a hot topic for us right now. I know, it has nothing to do with food so you’ll have to bear with me.

I have now owned businesses for almost 20 years. I have been on both ends of a sales presentation. I never really understood the inner working of a sale or how to make a sale until the last few months here in Utah (I don’t think it has anything to do with location; it may be just the timing in my life that I am able to see it).

Since we opened Old Towne Grill five months ago, we have been bombarded with marketing “opportunities” (salesmen won’t leave us alone!). From a few weeks before we opened untill now, we have spent about $10,000 on marketing, printing, advertising and such. We have tried advertising in two newspapers and a magazine, sponsored many special events, printed and handed out over 15,000 of our own flyers, and the list goes on and on.

We keep coming back to our own flyers; they are the only thing that has worked on a regular basis or at all.

Be patient, I am getting to my point. My point is that nothing besides our flyers has worked. Those wonderful salesmen/women came into our restaurant and sold us the moon, and we bought. They won. We lost.

It dawned on me after 20 years that it’s one thing to go into a meeting and sell something to somebody, but quite another to be able to consummate a long-term relationship because both sides win—and not just score a “one-time” salesman/woman victory. Do you understand what I am saying?

For example, we were approached to advertise in a college newspaper. It made sense to us because we wanted to get in front of the younger crowd. The ad cost $300 for one month. What kind of return do you think we should get from this? Mind you, the sales kid (he was a kid) helped us with placement and design as we don’t know that stuff!

We trusted that since this is their area of expertise, that they’d know what’s best. So our return on investment was $0. Actually, we lost more than $300, as we had invested quite a few hours of our own time in meeting, discussing, proofing, etc. that should be mentioned. Our time is valuable, right? So, in reality, we lost about $600, if you account for our lost time.

Here’s the thing, the newspaper staff didn’t care that they misrepresented reality when they sold us the ad. They didn’t care that we didn’t get ONE sale—not ONE! They didn’t care that we had just lost $600! They got paid. End of story.

However, they missed out on a great opportunity for long-term relationship, which would have equaled long-term revenue for them. All of these companies are missing out. They are missing out on the simplest fundamental of business-to-business relationships and the most important to success. Here it is: (Are you ready to have your life changed?)

Both parties win. It’s that simple, not one winner, but two winners.

You don’t need to read any further, I’ve made my point.

Why should we have to pay with our money to find out if what they are selling works? I don’t get it.

We sat down with a guy the other day that has a really cool online program. I love the idea and want to be a part of it. We have been using his wallet for the last three months or so because it was free. He now wants to charge us good money for his services every month. It amounts to over a $100 per month.

Now, here’s the catch and the reason he walked out empty handed—he couldn’t see or hear our point. Our point is that we have been using his online wallet for three months and have not had ONE person come in and use it, not ONE, zero, nada, zip, nothing. Why the hell would we now invest money that we don’t have on a proposition that isn’t working?

So we are sitting at the table and my business partner, Adam, is starting to get really frustrated that this gentleman isn’t hearing what we are saying. “WE ARE IN BUSINESS TO MAKE MONEY!!!”

We want you to win, but we have to win also, right? I am not going to give you $100 per month so that I get ZERO in return. That’s nonsense. So we say, “You have a new service that is unproven to us even though you say it’s proven. We don’t mind being a test market for your business, but we are not paying for it until it proves to be beneficial to us.”

He left saying he would get us data and show us results from others to prove his system is working. That was four days ago. We have not heard from him...Again, I think he has a great concept and idea.

Here is how (simple version) to make a sale that will keep on selling and nurture a great business relationship:
  • Salesman: “I have a great product here that will make you lots of money and bring in a ton of customers.”
  • Owner: “Sounds great, but I don’t know or trust what you say because my experience tells me different.”
  • Salesman: “OK. That makes sense, so here is my offer: I am so confident it will work that I will let you try this great form of marketing for free (since this is rarely possible). Better yet, I won’t charge you the money until you get ‘X’ number of customers in your door. Better yet, if you pay now and my system doesn’t do what I say, then I will refund 100 percent of the money you have invested.”
  • Owner: “I love that you have respected me and my hard-earned money and mitigated my risk in this transaction and I will agree to your terms.”

Wow. Was that so hard? See how everyone wins, assuming the marketing effort actually brings in customers like the salesmen/women says it will? This transaction works in many ways.
  1. The salesmen would actually care if the owner makes money.
  2. The owner feels warm and fuzzy because he knows the salesmen actually cares. (Are you seeing the trend?)
  3. The marketing effort will actually work because the salesman cares.
  4. The business relationship keeps working long term because the salesman actually cares….
  5. Everyone wins because the salesman actually cares.
  6. And this is the best part for the salesman—he actually wins more because the owner becomes the salesman’s greatest salesman!

You see, it’s a given that the owner cares; It is HIS money and HIS business. Owners are well connected and know lots of other owners. It behooves the salesman to care. It’s the salesman’s ONLY pathway to long-term success.

At the end of the day, the owner wants to know the that product or service he/she is buying is backed up by someone who is actually concerned about the outcome of the owner’s investment. I, as an owner, need to TRUST the person I am giving MY money to.

Trust is built by and through experiences. I have lost trust in sales people because they don’t care about me and the return on my investment. I have not received ONE phone call from the print companies we have given money to, to see how our company’s experience was and if it was profitable to us—not one.

If you want Old Towne Grill’s business, then I suggest approaching us with the goal of “everyone wins.”

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