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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."

 

Sales People Welcomed

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Years ago I went to the mailbox and found a box from a company in Baltimore called Victor Graphics. Inside was a brass pineapple and a letter from its president, Tom Hicks. Tom thanked me for the many articles he had read over the years with my name on them and said he felt compelled to send along a gift as a symbol of his appreciation. I'll bet that was 10 years ago. The pineapple still sits on my desk.

This morning, I was on a conference call listening to a selling owner talk about being harassed by a receptionist who said, "Didn't you see the 'No Solicitors' sign outside?" As soon as I heard this, I smiled and thought of Tom.

You see, last year Tom flew me to Baltimore for some possible consulting work. As I stood in the lobby waiting for him to come out, I read the following sign on the wall:

Sales People Welcomed

You will receive courteous attention here, for we are mindful that our own sales people are making calls every day, seeking interviews and business just as you are. We are glad to have you call, because it is an important part of our business to keep in touch with new developments and changes in products and services. Can you tell us something new...something we should know...or show us how your goods or services can help us do a better job?

We shall keep you waiting no longer than is necessary. While here, please feel free to avail yourself or our facilities and telephones.

Thank you for coming to see us.
Victor Graphics, Inc.


Isn't that awesome? What a throwback to the good old days! Kudos to Tom and Victor Graphics for having that kind of policy. I believe (as my sales tip next week will state) that a good vendor is as important as a good customer. So does Victor Graphics, and I'd bet that every one of the sales reps that sells to them is grateful and shows that gratitude by knocking themselves out by delivering service that surpasses their promises. Further, I'd guess that other reps trip over themselves just to call Victor Graphics "customer."

Personally, I NEED to hear a story like this in order to let me know that there are people who "get it." People like Tom. It makes the other 99.9999% tolerable. Barely.

Bill Farquharson and fellow PI blogger Kelly Mallozzi are delivering a "Where to Look for New Business" webinar on Wednesday July 21 at noon ET. Click this URL for more information: www.aspirefor.com/Aspire_For/PI_Webinar.html
 

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COMMENTS

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Most Recent Comments:
Kelly - Posted on July 21, 2010
I have had some time to reflect on this one... here's a theory... The more negatively an owner acts towards salespeople trying to sell to him, the more out of touch he is with the selling process and the challenges that face his own salespeople. I had a boss once that used to make up fake names and lie to salespeople who called on him. I should have known he had NO IDEA what it was like to be salesperson and therefore could not relate to us when we came to him with ideas, tools we needed, etc. Great post Bill!
Rita Siprak-Weill - Posted on July 19, 2010
We don't have a sign, but I feel the same way. I am always willing to listen to salespeople who call or come in to visit us. But I am also honest when I tell them that I'm not interested and why. In cases where I'm getting that service from a personal friend, I let them know that I wouldn't be interested in changing and cut them off, but nicely. You never know what you don't know till someone tells you.
Don Piontek - Posted on July 16, 2010
Bill: What a great story! It's amazing that most business owners fail to realize that when they've got their people out trying to "make the sale" that every other firm has to make a sale also. It comes down to treating your neighbor as you would yourself.
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Archived Comments:
Kelly - Posted on July 21, 2010
I have had some time to reflect on this one... here's a theory... The more negatively an owner acts towards salespeople trying to sell to him, the more out of touch he is with the selling process and the challenges that face his own salespeople. I had a boss once that used to make up fake names and lie to salespeople who called on him. I should have known he had NO IDEA what it was like to be salesperson and therefore could not relate to us when we came to him with ideas, tools we needed, etc. Great post Bill!
Rita Siprak-Weill - Posted on July 19, 2010
We don't have a sign, but I feel the same way. I am always willing to listen to salespeople who call or come in to visit us. But I am also honest when I tell them that I'm not interested and why. In cases where I'm getting that service from a personal friend, I let them know that I wouldn't be interested in changing and cut them off, but nicely. You never know what you don't know till someone tells you.
Don Piontek - Posted on July 16, 2010
Bill: What a great story! It's amazing that most business owners fail to realize that when they've got their people out trying to "make the sale" that every other firm has to make a sale also. It comes down to treating your neighbor as you would yourself.