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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."


Memorable: The Screaming “Sales Rep”


While at PRINT 13, a bunch of us went out to the old ballgame and watch the Tigers destroy the pitiful White Sox, 9-1. We had seats that were so good, any one of the six of us NAPL’ers could have been killed by a line drive. I’m talking that good.

During the game, the refreshment vendors walked up and down the aisles, hawking their wares and practicing a variety of styles of salesmanship. In between the three errors made by the Chicago third baseman, there was plenty of time to witness, assess, and compare their effectiveness. Sitting next to me was Mark Hahn of NAPL M&A Advisory Services. He correctly commented, “You see everything with the eyes of a salesman, don’t you?”


First came a Bud Light vendor. By the way, this was the first time I’ve ever heard that word pronounced using an “r.” At Fenway, it’s “Bee-ah hee-ah” (Beer here!). But I digress. His was a persistent style. In the roughly 90 seconds it took for him to walk down the aisle and up, he must have said, “Beer! Beer guy! Hey Beer!” two dozen times. If he sold print, he’d be the type that would call every day for a month.

Next was my Don Juan type. This guy had a look of confidence on this face that can only be described by my typing what I thought he was thinking: “Every woman in this place wants me,” a look that he kept on his face all night. He’d definitely count on his personality to win business.

He was followed by a stretch of mostly forgettable characters who all blended, and even as I write this, just 16 hours after the game, I can’t accurately describe even one of them (and no, it’s not from my intake of “bee-ah”).

Then came The Screamer. Picture a guy carrying a pole. Attached to the pole is cotton candy. Around his shoulder is a satchel full of Cracker Jack. Three times per aisle, on every aisle from left field to home plate, he’d stop, thrust the pole into the air, and scream like a conquering Viking something that sounded nothing like, “Excuse me everyone, I sell cotton candy and Cracker Jack.”




Right behind him was an older guy who sold Miller Light. He had the coolest sales style of all. Perhaps because of who’d just occupied the sales space, he simply held his product up and said nothing. Imagine what it would look like if Marcel Marceau sold beer.

By the end of the night—a night which mercifully ended early for the beleaguered third baseman—my sales focus shifted to results.

The clear winner was Mr. Persistency, that Bud Light guy who filled the air with a clear description of what he was selling. He had a huge wad of cash. In second place was the strong, silent type who sold Miller Light. Then came the Forgettable Masses. Way down at the bottom was Old Yeller.

Surprised? Probably not.

But what’s worth noting was that this morning in the NAPL booth, my fellow game attendees remembered only the cotton candy screamer when I asked them. As annoying as he was, he took first place in the short-term memory category. What’s more, I can virtually guarantee that he will hold that spot for a long time, if not forever. He was no closer, but he sure was memorable.

I guess what this proves is that there is a place for all kinds of salespeople. Is there a right way and a wrong way? Yes and no. Your style is your style. Who’s to say? Bosses care only about results, not style points. Differentiate yourself. Be yourself. You will find your target market or it will find you.


  1. Persistency is king.
  2. The obnoxious still have a customer.
  3. The White Sox need to work with their third baseman before it’s one, two, three strikes he’s off of the old ball team.

Bill Farquharson on the NAPL Advisory Team. Bill’s sales training programs can help you to drive your sales momentum. Contact him at (781) 934-7036 or

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