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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."

 

Planting the Sales Seed

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I was in Staples—an office supply chain—recently with my dad. As I waited for him to complete making photocopies, I noticed a display set up in a highly visible part of the store. Without any signage or fanfare was a wall completely full of backpacks.

The date was Sunday, June 22. School was out and given the various colors, these backpacks were clearly aimed at schoolchildren.

But why?

Why would Staples be selling, much less promoting, such a thing at this time of year?

The answer has a lesson to teach us in printing.

What they were doing was simply planting a seed. Staples wanted us to know that they are a source for school supplies. And despite the fact that no one is in the market for school supplies, it was important for them to tell us that four to six weeks from now, they would be top of mind.

July 8, the date this blog will be released, is way too early to be advertising holiday cards. And those of you who sell signage, it’s much too soon to be promoting your ability to help stores announce their holiday offerings.

Or is it?

By planting the seed now, we get out ahead of our customer and our competition. In fact, I would even suggest you go so far as to do their thinking for them: Why not follow the Taco Bell model and group offerings at different price points.

For example, $249 would buy a retail outlet, three full-size posters and one A-frame for the sidewalk. For $499, a postcard mailing of 500 would be added. For $999...

Get the idea?

I promise you that no one is currently thinking about what they are going to do for the holidays. But they will be and you want them to think of you first.

Plant the seeds now and watch them grow later.

Side note: One of my favorite all-time ads is one that Staples did a few years ago to promote their Back to School sale. There were two completely despondent children looking miserable as their father gleefully pushed his cart from aisle to aisle collecting supplies. It was the music that made the ad: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year...”

Bill Farquharson is a Vice President at NAPL. His training programs can drive the sales of print reps and selling owners. Check out his Sales Resources page and contact him at (781) 934-7036 or bfarquharson@napl.org

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