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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."


Money Can’t Buy You Lunch

In the old days, the business lunch was a staple and a commonly used method of developing relationships, treating a customer, and enjoying a meal on the company’s nickel. These days, money can’t buy you lunch as customers have adopted a strict policy of shunning any and all activities that give the impression of favoritism towards one particular vendor. It’s an overreaction to Wall Street’s financial shenanigans over the last few years.

Or, maybe it’s just about the calories.

Whatever the motivation, it’s up to the creative salesperson to find a way to accomplish the goal of strengthening the bond with a customer that doesn’t include menus, martinis and expense reports.

No golf? No gifts? Come on! Lighten up, Francis.

To further complicate the issue, we get less face time with our clients than ever. We can no longer simply drop by (the doors are locked) and schmooze with the receptionist (laid off). As a result, everything from proofing to basic communication takes on a less personal approach.

OK, so I can’t buy you lunch. There must be a way for us to get to know each other and strengthen the buyer-seller relationship. It’s almost as if we’ve become pen pals.

As I think about my own job, I can relate. After all, I don’t get to meet 99 percent of my coaching clients, but that hasn’t stopped me from forging some pretty strong bonds.

Once again, as with many things in life, the answer comes down—or should I say back—to the fundamentals. In this case, that means taking advantage of the lightning-quick opportunities to build relationships through conversation, be it via email or voice, and then keeping track of what was said so that the next conversation can pick up where this one left off. After you have learned what’s important to a customer, you can look for ways to say, “I care!”

For example, should you find out that a customer rides motorcycles (like me!) and you come across—or even seek out—an article on the new Harley-Davidsons, do what my parents do and stick it in the mail. John and Priscilla Farquharson, ages 88 and 87 this month, read the morning newspapers with scissors in hand. Then, they organize anything they’ve cut out into piles. My brother has a pile. My sister has a pile. And I have one. So do their friends, their pastor, and anyone else that they can think of.

Ask anyone in their network, and they are sure to use the word “thoughtful” when it comes to describing my folks. They build relationships the old-fashioned way. We need to follow their lead and return to the fundamentals.

And that’s not a bad thing!

I don’t buy the argument, “I don’t have time.” People find time to do the things that are important to them. When I hear someone utter those four words, I understand them to mean, “You are not a priority.”

Likewise, I don’t believe it when people tell me they can no longer forge strong bonds with their customers. There is always a way. I see it as a lack of creativity and desire.

Or maybe it’s just about the calories.

A new sales tip from Bill is posted each Monday. His blogs come out on Tuesdays. And each Friday, he and Kelly Mallozzi release a new “Short Attention Span Webinar.” All free! You can reach Bill at (781) 934–7036 or through his website.

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