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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."


When to STOP Overcoming the Objection

At what point do you let the job go? When do you shout, “Uncle!” and move on to the next sales challenge? When doing so is in the best interest of the long-term relationship with the client. That’s when.

I am a blackhole for bad customer service. I’ve known this ever since I was young. If there is a customer service disaster waiting to happen, it is waiting for me to find it.

Such was the case when I called the The Boston Globe to temporarily cancel my Sunday newspaper subscription. I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as I wanted and made the decision to use the $20 a month for an subscription instead.

Note: Okay, sure, I am in print and as such should be reading and not listening but don’t judge me, haters. Books on tape are the only thing that get me out for walks. So there.

Here is a rough script of the conversation (this after the usual, “To subscribe, press one. For problems with your delivery, press two.” And all the way down to, “To cancel, press the square root of 81 and subtract the number I am thinking of right now.”):

BG: “Can I help you?
BF: “Yes, I’d like to temporarily cancel my subscription.”
BG: (Delay while that script loaded on screen) “I’m sorry to hear that. May I ask why?”
BF: “Sure. Just wanted to take a break. I love the Globe and I will be back.”
BG: (Not seeing that answer on her list of possible choices) “Uh huh. If I offered you the paper for 25 percent less, would that convince you to stay?”
BF: “Actually, no. I think the Globe is worth every penny you charge for it. I just want to take a break.”
BG: “Okay. Would you say it’s because you don’t have enough time to read the paper?”
BF: “Sure. If that hurries things along. Let’s go with that one.”
BG: “I see. And a lower price would not help?”
BF: “No. A lower price is not going to magically create the time to read the paper.”
BG: “Are you aware of all of the outstanding parts of our paper?”
BF: (Becoming increasingly BS): “Actually, yes. I am. Like I said: Fine paper and I will be back. I just wish to take a break.”
BG: “Uh-huh. So what about this...”
BF: “Stop!!! Please just stop. I wish to end my subscription and I am planning to come back. But I need you to listen to me and stop trying to overcome my objection.”

<<long pause>>

BG: “I understand. Let me put you through to that department.”
BF: Thinking: “*&^%$%^&*”

New BG: “Can I help you?”
Same old BF: “Seriously? Okay, fine. I would like to temporarily cancel my subscription.”
BG: “I’m sorry to hear that. May I ask why?”

At that point, I lost it.

BF: “I want you to listen to me carefully. I am only going to say this nicely one more time. After that, you will lose my business for good and lose the hearing in your headset as I am going to get loud and profane. Cancel. My. Subscription. Now.”

<<long pause during which I was sure I’d been disconnected>>

BG: “I will take care of it.” <<click>>

I get that they need to keep every subscriber and that all but two newspapers in the United States are slowly losing their subscription (USA Today and The Wall Street Journal being the exceptions), but there has to be room for someone like me to state an objection, be heard, and be treated professionally. What could have been a moment to shine has me vowing never to buy from them again.

Overcome the objection. Sure. But overcome the urge to over, over, over do it.

When Bill calms down, he’ll be at the other end of (781) 934-7036 and if you wish to discuss your sales challenges.

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