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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."


Trust Me. I’m in Sales.

In a conference call amongst print salespeople last week, an interesting conversation ensued regarding trust between the buyer and sales rep. To get an expert’s opinion, I reached out to my friend and fellow PIworld blogger, Margie Dana*. We emailed back and forth.

Margie suggested that I post the discussion along with the following funny story that I’d shared with her. Have a look, and then join the conversation.

A sales rep walks into a buyer's office for an appointment. As the buyer is speaking, the rep is doing what all reps do—scanning the buyer’s desk looking for clues and information to be used later.

Amazingly, sitting right in front of the buyer is a competitor’s proposal for a job that the sales rep is about to quote. Unfortunately for the rep, there was a soda can directly over the price.

Suddenly, the phone rings and the buyer is called away from the office momentarily. Presented with an opportunity, the rep reaches for the can and lifts it up to see the price. If he's too high, he will make an excuse to return later with a lower price. If he’s too low and has left money on the table, he will again make an excuse to return later with a higher price.

But as he lifts the can, he discovers—to his horror—that it’s bottomless and the can was full of marbles. The buyer had set a trap for him and he was now exposed for what he is: a cheat.

The buyer returns to the office, sees what the rep has done and throws him out for good.

We all have an internal compass that guides us and shows us right from wrong. Where that line is—between right and wrong—is different from person to person. All printing salespeople learn quickly how to read upside down. At one time or another, we’ve all scanned a buyer’s desk. We also read the Guest Register at the front desk to see who else is in the account. I remember a sales manager advising me to never sign in to those things legibly. I will let you judge for yourself as to whether such actions are innocent or devious.

Now back to the story...

I will give you two morals:

To those of you who agree that the rep should be dismissed—a study once found that given the chance to steal and get away with it, 70 percent of people said they would. Don’t be one of those who runs the internal stop sign that God gave us and our parents reminded us of. Winning the job is no substitute for losing one’s Integrity.

To those of you who see yourself doing the same thing that the rep did—never lift the can. Always slide the piece of paper out from under.

Trust me.

(* If you are in printing and you’re not reading Margie’s blog, you are missing out!)

Bills “Sales Challenge” will drive your sales momentum and teach you to sell printing with integrity and honesty. A new program starts May 2. For more information go to Bill can be reached at

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