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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."


Lessons from the One-Armed Sales Trainer

Roughly six years ago, I was attempting to learn how to snowboard in Vermont. The natural enemy of the 6’6”, 40-something man is gravity, a fact proven when I fell on the bunny slope, and cushioned my fall by extending both arms, injuring my left thumb in the process. Initially, it hurt, but not enough for me to do anything about it. OK, I whined a little. 

That was then. This is now.

Fast forward to today. Over time, the injury to my left hand required surgery, so I decided before the golf and motorcycle season got underway, I’d bite the bullet and go under the knife.

By the time you read this, I will have nearly completed my six-week sentence consisting of a cast covering the palm of my hand and extending two-thirds of the way to my elbow. 

If you’ve never had your arm in a sling, it’s difficult to get your head around exactly what it’s going to mean to your life. Everything from putting toothpaste on the toothbrush to cutting a steak is a challenge.

Some of it is comical (I can get the anti-perspirant under that arm but what about the other one?), much of it is frustrating (ex. donning socks, tying shoes and working zippers of all makes and models), and all of it is painful (they didn’t tell me that part).

Being a one-handed man has humbled me and taught me many lessons. And just when I thought I knew everything!

Here are a few that apply to business:

• Be patient: This is the first time in my life that an injury has prevented me from doing something. I have always been in decent shape, so my body has never said no to me. One of the first lessons I had to learn was to be patient. Six weeks in a cast followed by two to three months of physical therapy. Everyone tells me it will be worth it, but it’s hard to see that right now.

• Ask for help: Oh, man, this is a tough one! I do not ask for directions nor do I ask for assistance. Flying to a PIA of the South event in February, the airline insisted that I board the plane first...even before the cotton tops in their wheelchairs. Did I mention this was humbling?

The attendants said I would need extra time to stow my backpack. (Although, “extra time” in their minds is less than 10 seconds!) Thanks to my newfound patience, I have learned to ask for help. My favorite Jamaican aunt, Doreen Dougal, used to tell me that allowing others to help you helps them as well.

• Slow down: I tell myself that several times a day. Everything takes longer, from getting dressed to eating. But what I’ve found is that once I slow down, I perform the task more effectively and enjoy it more as well. The quality of my work has improved as a result.

• Prioritize: It’s amazing how many things I used to do that didn’t really need doing. I have found that I wasn’t as efficient as I thought I was. This is my new mantra—If it can’t be done one-handed, maybe I don’t need to do it at all! My business has not suffered because of my injury.

• Voice recognition software rocks: Because so much of my job is content creation (such as this blog, the free video sales tips that come out Monday mornings, and the “Short Attention Span Webinars” released each Friday), I was terrified at the thought of typing one-handed.

To solve this issue, I bought a copy of Dragon Dictate. In fact, this blog is being “written” using it. I talk. It types. It’s not perfect (“sales efficiency” came out as “sales eat fish and see” the first time I tried it), but I’m thinking even after this experience I might not go back to typing. I have since bought copies of the software for my college and high school daughters to help them study.

I have already warned my kids that I am not going to age gracefully. They, in turn, have warned me that their assistance will never include changing my Depends. Nice.

I look at everything in life as a challenge to become better, especially the setbacks. God knows I’ve had ample opportunity for improvement. This is definitely a setback, but I see the chance for something good to come out of it. And it has.

And just think…once the left-hand has fully healed, I get to go through this all over again with my right hand...and I’m right-handed! 

Need sales? Even one-handed, Bill’s Sales Challenge can grow your volume. A new program starts April 4. Go to for more information or call Bill at (781) 934-7036.

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