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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."


My Favorite Customer

Marilyn Vos Savant—the reputed “smartest person in the world”—once said, "If you don’t have a favorite child, you don’t know your kids very well." I am going to let that one go without additional personal comment, just in case my girls are reading me.

What I will tell you is that I have a favorite customer. Her name is Paula and she is a rock star in my book.

There are two reasons why Paula is my fave. First, she displayed a courtesy to me unlike any other I have ever experienced. Paula became my favorite when she invited me to her shop in Baltimore and picked me up personally at the airport. Since it was late when I arrived, Paula dropped me off at the hotel with a basket of snack food and water. She was concerned that I would be peckish and there would be no restaurant open. I have been in love with her ever since.

The second reason why Paula is my favorite has to do with her business acumen. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Paula’s skills as a printer and especially as a sales manager. She runs a tight ship with a no-nonsense approach—I will reward effort so long as you demonstrate commitment to your job. Simple enough, right?

Paula has the perfect attitude regarding her sales force: Let them sell. Each Monday morning at 9 a.m., she sits with her sales team (which varies in number from 1 to 3 sales people) and they quickly run through a standard agenda.

The reps know they need to come prepared. It is not a good idea to cross Ms. Paula and NEVER advisable to engage in a war of words with her as one of my competitors found out years ago in a public print serve (yet another reason why I love this woman!). Sales reps know to bring their A game to that meeting or risk facing the Wrath of Khan.

After the reps have delivered the requested/required reports on their sales efforts and Paula has delivered her comments, each rep is handed an Executive Summary of one or two prospective accounts that Paula wants them to pursue. This summary features the name of the company, contact information, a brief statement of what the company does, any names and job titles of identified contacts, and an idea for how to approach them to earn their print business.

Think about that for a second. Can you imagine being in sales and having someone say, “Bill, here is an account. Here is what they do. Here’s whom to call on. Here’s what to say. Got get ‘em!” I mean, COME ON!!! Is that sales heaven or what? And here’s the thing: This occurs every Monday.

Sure, the rep still has the job of beating voice mail, setting up the appointment, delivering a value statement, and earning the business, but when the caddy puts the ball on the tee, sets your feet and guides your backswing, suddenly hitting the ball isn’t quite so hard.

Maybe it is wrong to have a favorite offspring. Personally, I love each of my kids, but not for the same reason and often not at the same time.

Naturally, I love all of my clients as well. But there is something about Paula that sets her apart from the others. Those snacks sure hit the spot that night. I will never forget her kindness and consideration, and her business skills will forever hold my admiration. Sales is a tough job and print sales is especially challenging these days. The value of a sales “caddy” cannot be understated. You should either get one or send Paula your resume and consider moving to Baltimore.

Oh, one last thing. Paula doesn’t generate the Executive Summaries herself. She called a local college and found an intern to do the work cheap. After the intern graduated, Paula hired her. In Boston we call that being “wicked smaht!”

Need leads of your own? Check out Bill’s Webinar this Wednesday October 27, called, “Hot Markets.” Along with fellow PI blogger Kelly Mallozzi, Bill will deliver the identity of three industries that you need to know about. Go to for details or call Bill at 781-934-7036.

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