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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."


Observations from GRAPH EXPO

I once wrote a column that called GRAPH EXPO “sensory overload.” Back in the day, when business was booming and you could barely hear yourself think above the din, it would take a few days of sitting quietly in a padded room, head cocked to one side and murmuring something about Simon and Garfunkel being misunderstood before you could return to a functional state after attending the show. I remember taking a lot of grief from GASC (the Graphic Arts Show Co., organizers of the show) for that one.

GRAPH EXPO 2012 was a bit quieter and more subdued. I thought I’d share a few thoughts on the trip as a whole:

• When staying at the Hard Rock Hotel, listen to that little voice in your head that, upon seeing your room assignment to be on the third floor, sounds an alarm that perhaps something in the teens would be of a more appropriate distance from the noise that is certain to emanate from the lounge.

• For me, a show like this is a cross between going to camp and attending a reunion. Every 10 steps I would see a familiar face that would result in a handshake, hug, occasional kiss, and a friendship renewal. Hang around long enough in this industry and that is bound to happen. What a great industry we serve!

• I was so happy to see Bob Hall receive the lifetime achievement award. This guy is a class act. Well done, sir!

• It was extremely gratifying to hear from salespeople and selling owners who watch/read my free sales tips, “Short Attention Span Webinars” and this blog and stopped me to voice their appreciation for so much content. It often feels like I’m shouting into the abyss, so it’s nice to know someone is paying attention.

• Attending the NAPL/NAQP Owners Conference on the Friday before the show reminded me that while the educational sessions are good, the conversations that occurs over coffee and on the breaks are even better. While we are all technically competitors, there is a camaraderie and an unspoken rule in the industry that your problem is my problem and is to be solved together.

• My faith in humanity was restored when a local print sales rep named Aaron called me out of the blue after reading in my weekly sales tip that my high school senior daughter was accompanying me for the purpose of looking at the University of Chicago. He told me that his son went to school there and, although we had never met, offered to help in any way possible. Aaron, someone raised you right!

• Madeline absolutely loved her campus tour and why wouldn’t she: the University of Chicago was voted “Most like Hogwarts.” If it were located back East, it would be an Ivy League school.

• This was her third GRAPH EXPO. She loves walking the floor and grabbing samples. I’ll bet she scored 40 to 50 posters for her walls and her friends. She also renewed her love for the city, though I reminded her that daddy’s credit card does not go to college with her!

• I gave two presentations. The first one on using social media to replace selling went better than I expected. All speakers fret over a first-time speech like this one was, as we never know how it’s going to go over or how long it’s going to take to get through all the material.

• The second one was on time management. The audience was tough to read, but I was pleased to see that there were far more in the room than the 30 that preregistered.
•mThey say it takes one day to recover from every one day that you are away from the office. I have found this to be true. Today is day one and the fog is barely lifting.

• I remember my first trip to GRAPH EXPO many years ago. I was staying at the Hilton Garden Hotel and a client suggested that we go out for the evening. When he picked me up, he told me to write the name of my hotel on a business card and stick it in my pocket. What I asked him what it was for, he replied, “You’ll see.” After dinner and an evening of bar hopping, we ended up in the back of a cab and when the cabbie asked us where we want to go, I could not remember where I was staying to which my client replied, “That’s what the business card is for!”

• Here I sit almost a week later and I still have receipts and business cards all over my desk, waiting for copying, scanning, processing and billing. I detest this part!

• Good to be home. Though I love Chicago, it was intimidating to hang with the 1-percent body fat crowd who were running the marathon. Mr. 6’6” does not run and never will.

I’m off to Cleveland this afternoon. Will be back by the time you read this. Trips like this give me time to write blogs, sales tips and “Short Attention Span Webinars.” That’s good time management!

Check out Bill’s new “Tuesday eWorkshops.” New classes are being written and added on a monthly basis. Go to for more or call Bill at 781-934-7036.


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