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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."


The Voicemail Award

If there was ever a trophy given to the Buyer who deflected the most incoming phone calls from new vendors and relegated everything to voicemail, it would look a lot like the Heisman Trophy. For the uninitiated, the Heisman is given to the top college football player of the year. It symbolizes greatness and often predicts complete failure in the Pros. But, it’s the hand gesture that the football player is making at the top of the trophy that I think is most appropriate here.

Picture a helmeted football player holding onto the ball, one knee tucked up as if running, and a straight arm and open hand pushing away would-be tacklers. In football terms, it’s called the “Stiff arm.” Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Voicemail Award.

I would guess that all print salespeople would have at least one nominee. Most people assume that Voicemail is where sales calls go to die, that there is no value to leaving a message, and that anything they say will be quickly deleted and forgotten. To this, I have two comments:

First, if your voicemail messages are going unreturned, it is likely that you are not saying anything of value. “Hi, my name is Bill. I think I can save you money on the cost of your print. Here’s my telephone number. Let’s talk.”

Easy there, tiger. Let’s not come on too strong. I can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t return that one!

Voicemail is an audition. It’s a chance for you to demonstrate your attitude, knowledge, and sales skill. Be prepared and then knock it out of the park!

Second, I want to tell you about a response I got to a LinkedIn question: Why don’t buyers return phone calls? One respondent posted a memorable comment. He told me that he gets 60 voicemail messages a day. He said, “If I returned every call and gave everyone five minutes, that would take five hours of my day, every day.”

He went on to make an even more interesting comment: I go through and listen to every voicemail message. But if they tell me that they’re going to save me money, I delete the message immediately. Everyone says that. The ones that I listen to are the ones where the caller tells me he or she is going to save me time. Time is what I value the most and that’s what gets my attention.”

That last part stuck with me.

What can you say in your voicemail that differentiates, shows your professionalism, and speaks to the interest that Buyers (and everyone, really) has in improving efficiency and productivity?

Answer that one, and you won’t ever leave another voicemail message. People will be calling you!

Bill Farquharson is a Vice President at NAPL. His training programs can drive the sales of printed reps and selling owners. Contact him at (781) 934-7036 or


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