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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."

 

Stop Selling Printing

1
 
You are sitting in a conference room with four of your competitors. The Buyer hands you each a document to quote on with instructions to price 50,000 pieces. There will be no changes to the document.

“This is a tough economy,” the Buyer says, “so we have to go for the lowest price. Good luck to you all and thanks for coming in.” Meeting adjourned.

A few years ago there was a game show on TV called, “Whose Line is It Anyway?”—an ad lib show that featured different challenges. In one of them, the participants had the task of only being able to have a conversation in the form of a question. It made for good (if brainless) entertainment, but a better lesson in being a sales rep.

Back to the conference room...

Four sales people stand, thank the Buyer and leave, anxious to return to their shops to show off the fabulous quote they’ve “worked so hard to get.” You wait until the room is cleared...and that’s when host Drew Carey hits the bell and the game begins…

“How long will 50K last?”
“How many might get thrown out if a change is made?”
“What IS this document? In other words, what is the purpose of the piece?”
“Why is there no color on this document? Do you think it might help with accomplishing the goal?
“Who ‘owns’ this document? That is, who requisitioned it? Could I speak to that person and offer ideas for improvement in addition to quoting the job?”

Ding!

The Buyer has limited knowledge of how this piece works, just that a quantity of 50K has been requisitioned. He suggests that you contact the Requisitioner directly and report back.

Mission accomplished.

Round Two...

You are having a first-time meeting with a prospect, a Marketing Manager. She welcomes you into her office where you make small talk regarding the pictures on her desk, the weather, and the Red Sox’ lack of commitment to the 2010 Pennant Race as evidenced by the front office sleepwalking through the mid-season trade deadline. Once again, Drew Carey hits the bell and the game begins...

“You’ve agreed to give me 20 minutes of your time, correct?”
“How do new customers find your company now?”
“What percentage of your business comes from additional sales to existing clients?”
“What are you hoping to get out of that trade show coming up in three months?”
“What is the status and accuracy of your company’s database?”

Ding!

Congrats, you’ve won! Your prize package includes the following:

• A chance to do more than just bid on work; a chance to provide print solutions.
• Being brought in at the design stage of the job.
• Fewer price objections.
• Better referrals.
• A more loyal customer.
• And the Grand Prize: Being the vendor of choice.

If you want to sell more printing, stop “selling printing.” Only when you solve the problem will you earn the order. It only stands to reason, then, that you first need to understand the problem How do you accomplish that? You ask questions.

Game over. Fade to black

Join Bill and fellow PI blogger Kelly Mallozzi for a sales webinar called, "Building a Prospecting Plan" on Sept. 15 at noon ET. Click here for details.

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COMMENTS

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Most Recent Comments:
Mark Henry - Posted on September 09, 2010
It all comes down to value. We have to sell on more than just price, otherwise all our experience and expertise becomes a commodity that has no value beyond the ink on paper. Otherwise, no matter how low you go, there will always be some young start-up with lower overhead that is hungrier than you are and willing to underbid just for the volume. If you're talking more than the client, chance are you're focusing on price and not asking enough questions.
Click here to view archived comments...
Archived Comments:
Mark Henry - Posted on September 09, 2010
It all comes down to value. We have to sell on more than just price, otherwise all our experience and expertise becomes a commodity that has no value beyond the ink on paper. Otherwise, no matter how low you go, there will always be some young start-up with lower overhead that is hungrier than you are and willing to underbid just for the volume. If you're talking more than the client, chance are you're focusing on price and not asking enough questions.