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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."


Vistaprint, Bad Sushi and Five Angry Calls a Day

Car salesman are given a bevy of questions to ask a prospective buyer. The worst is, “How much are you looking to spend?” The best is, “What are you looking for in a car?” One of the more commonly asked questions is, “What else are you looking at?”

Many years ago, I was car shopping and jockeyed between the Nissan Maxima and a BMW 3 Series. Both reps asked me that last question. The Nissan sales rep ripped the BMW and made faces like he’d just eaten some bad sushi. The BMW rep, however, replied by patiently describing the differences between their car and his.

Classy. Guess which I bought.

I was alerted by a reader that Vistaprint is running an ad campaign on national television touting its services while trash-talking the competition. One segment has an actual customer saying how everything Vistaprint does for him is perfect and another who says when she used the local printer down the street, “nothing was right.”

Oh, really?

That’s funny to me because I was in a coaching call with a Sales Challenge customer recently whose company name is very close to Vistaprint. He told me that he gets five angry calls a day from people who call his shop, but think they are calling Vistaprint. In addition, he got a call from the Better Business Bureau telling him that there were 5,000 complaints against “his” company, a matter that was cleared up when the name difference was explained.

Now, Vistaprint is a fine company and it has a very successful business model. I use it myself for checks and have never had a problem. But does it really need to lower itself to such a level? I mean, is the printer down the street that much of a threat to the company?

You have to work hard to get 5,000 complaints against your company. And that’s only the ones that contacted the BBB! Imagine how many more times it hasn’t “gotten it right!” As for the printer down the street, his best response is to patiently describe the difference between his company and the other guy. Now, that’s class.

This is a big industry with room for lots of printers. Companies of all shapes, sizes, and capabilities can succeed, and competition is welcome. But we need to remember that we all live in glass houses. Some might be bigger than others, but no one should be throwing rocks.

Bill Farquharson can be reached via email ( or through his website. Check out his Sales Challenge program at

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