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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."


More on Open Hours from Print Buyers

In a previous blog posting, I wrote about an old practice—that of print buyers keeping open hours for any sales rep to come in for a 15 minute meet and greet. I sent an email off to Margie Dana, fellow PIworld blogger and liaison to the stars when it comes to a group in-the-know. She got back to me in less than 48 hours with these responses:

“I never did this in my over 20+ years as a print buyer.”

“We plan for the printer to come in to a conference room for a few hours with its samples and literature on the company and do a meet and greet (creatives and production people come in when they can during those two hours). No formal presentations anymore; we don't have that kind of time. Plus, its hard to get everyone together at once to sit through a dog-and-pony show. It works better for all that way. We schedule the printers to come in during "slower" times (fall, mid summer, etc). Although with a lot less staff these days, no time seems 'slow!'”

“When I worked in-house at Redken 5th Ave, they did this. Once every two years (I think it was two), the company would bid out a bunch of projects with "approved" vendors who passed quality control and other standards. From that pool, it would choose four or five printers whose bids best suited the company. I didn’t make these decisions so I don’t know what they were based on. Until that process happened again, those were the only vendors we used and no solicitations were allowed. I don’t know how printers were able to submit themselves for approval to bid either, as I never received one cold call in my year there and had started right after the process was completed. There was some master list supplied by L'Oreal (the parent company) the vp of production had. As far as I know, its still going on.”

“We 'interview' potential suppliers on the phone then bring them in for their dog-and-pony show.”

“I have never heard of this practice. I can imagine if you did this in the Midwest, you would have everyone and their brother show up.”

“I have seen it the other way from print companies.” (Bill: I have no idea what this means!)

“I haven't seen nor participated in this practice since the mid '90s, but it was once an effective way to get a foot in the door.”

“Was this a way for agencies to show off work? With the amount of print agencies are purchasing now, I don't think you will see this (practice) coming back anytime soon.”

“This was done to create an approved vendor pool for a company to which all projects would be distributed for a set time period. You can imagine how many solicitations large companies experience, and this process keeps everything on the up-and-up and 'fair' regarding vendor approvals.”

“I've never seen this in San Diego, but it seems like an effective and fair way of separating the really top vendors from the average. If you didn't have killer and unique commercial printing products that stand out from the rest, why would you bother to even show up? I'm in, sign me up for 'open hours.'”

This conversation has given me an idea for my December PI column. Print buyers beware. You are in my crosshairs!

Bill’s Sales Challenge starts October 6. More info can be found at or

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