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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."


Unforgivable: A Lack of Effort

I am furious.

OK, maybe furious is a tad strong. How about just disappointed? No, on second thought, I am Furious! That’s right, initial cap and everything.

I got a call from a company president a couple weeks ago. He had a salesperson who was underperforming and asked for my help. I was traveling at the time and called the sales rep from a noisy airport to talk about what our work together would encompass and what the desired results would be if she only put in the effort.

We talked for 15 or 20 minutes. I listened as she described her current sales challenges, then gave her some quick suggestions before my flight was called. One more thing…

I’m a strong believer in encouragement as a form of motivation. I read in a magazine just this morning that a written note of support is worth more than a $100 gift certificate (but not a $200 gift certificate, according to the article!). So, I made sure to include the fact that her boss had faith in her potential, otherwise he would not have called me. He would’ve simply have fired her.

I added my belief that she could succeed if she worked hard and I told her that I had helped thousands of others in similar situations. I told her that this was going to be difficult. But again, I reminded her that her job was to try as hard as she could. Never fail, I said, because of a lack of effort.

 The plan was for her to follow my instructions for a couple weeks after which we would talk on the phone for a coaching call. She was to check in with me each day with her sales activity (the number of calls she made that day), as well as watch the first three webinars in “The Sales Challenge” program.

On Monday of this week, a reminder popped up in iCal to email her and set up a coaching call. I reached out to her, but did not hear back. I tried again. Nothing. Finally, I emailed her boss and he replied that they were talking late in the day.

This morning she sent me an email indicating she had resigned. I am furious.

Hey, sales is not for everyone; I get that. It’s hard to succeed. It’s frustrating. The vast majority of people who try to become successful salespeople will fail. I get that, too. What I don’t get is when people fail without trying their hardest. That, to me, is unforgivable and unacceptable.

I, myself, am not immune from this discussion. My first job in sales was for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance. It was the summer between my junior and senior year in college. I sucked. I procrastinated. I let fear get the best of me. I failed.

There was a veteran salesperson there named Dana. When I finally quit, he calmly and professionally made an imprint on my sales soul. Dana said to me, “Bill, you didn’t even try.” At the time, his admonishment meant nothing to me. Or so I thought. But, here I am 30 years later recalling his words.

In the years since, I have failed on numerous occasions. I have failed financially. I failed in my marriage. And don’t even get me started talking about my golf game. But if I saw Dana today and got him up to speed on my life since 1982, I could look him in the eye and honestly say that while I failed, I did so after trying my absolute hardest.

So, young lady, I hope that your failure at sales becomes a life lesson and a foundation for future success. Go find your passion. Go find out what you are good at, and then work to become great at it. I suggest that you read the book “Strengths Finder 2.0” and take the online test, then consider moving in that direction. But whatever that direction is and whatever you decide to do with your life, promise me one thing:

Never again fail because of a lack of effort. Never!

Other rantings from Bill, such as his free sales tips and “Short Attention Span Webinars” can be found at Bill can be reached at 781-934-7036.

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