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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."

 

Why Do People Buy from You?

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Ever wonder? You’d like to think it’s your service, but it’s not. Perhaps you believe it’s your great prices. Nope. Delivery times? Uh-uh. According to a Purchasing Magazine poll, the number one reason why someone buys from a particular salesperson is his or her raw sales ability. That is: How developed are your professional sales skills?

In the end, price, service and delivery are important, but our clients are looking for someone who solves problems, communicates effectively, shows up on time and partners with them to provide solutions. Who knew?

When it comes to Purchasing Magazine, I ordinarily only pick up the swimsuit edition, but this information fascinates me. One of my favorite questions to ask an audience of salespeople and selling owners is, “Why aren’t you selling more?” The answers range from “No one returns my calls” to “My prices are too high” to “I don’t have enough time to prospect.”

Never—not once—in the hundreds of times that I have asked that question has anyone given the real reason: “I guess I’m not a good enough sales rep.” If a salesperson were to be hypnotized and injected with truth serum, I wonder if even then he/she would cough up that answer. It’s kind of like asking a divorcee what happened to the marriage and hearing all kinds of answers—“He’s a jerk” “She was mean” “I was drunk”—but not the truth: “I did not understand or meet my partner’s needs.”

See, the funny thing is, much of what happens in a selling situation is completely out of the control of the sales rep—the economy, the client’s desire to slash costs, voice mail, etc. But the single most important factor in turning someone’s head our way is a skill. A skill that is completely within our control to improve.

What are you doing to improve your sales skills?

Industry Centers:

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COMMENTS

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Most Recent Comments:
Jack Miller - Posted on May 19, 2010
Bill, Thanks for a great post. A big part of what I do is market research to find out “what do they buy and why.” Of course, this also relates to good selling - understanding and meeting the customer’s needs. It’s interesting, though, that when you ask the question, the most important element may not be mentioned. If someone says “Price and service,” I’ll ask, “But what about quality?” The likely response is, “That’s a given.” Similarly if they say quality and service or price and quality. The challenge is to understand what element of quality or service can be a differentiator, so you don’t have to use price. In reality, many sales people aren’t so good at this – and that’s why price becomes all too important. All too often the sales rep who loses the order will say price is the reason, but rarely will the sales rep who wins the order claim that price is the reason. Go figure. Jack Miller Market-Intell
Doug Andreassen - Posted on May 17, 2010
Bill, This is by far one of your better blogs and comments. There are too many times that we blame the other forces that are around us. Granted they do have a impact, however skill is the most important element we as sales people can have...well in addition to attitude! Doug Andreassen Northwest Publishing Center
Bill Farquharson - Posted on May 16, 2010
Chris: Non-sales people believe in the product being most important. Sales people believe in sales quality. The truth is, they BOTH matter. Reps needs to accept responsibility for their role in the process, win or lose. The analogy is completely relevant. Battered wife? What in the world did you read into my blog? I think you missed my point. Sorry about that. This week's blog will further the point. Maybe that will help. Bill
Chris Mullen - Posted on May 16, 2010
I thought the divorce analogy was completely off basis. To me, the real reasons from the divorcee WERE "I was drunk" or "she was mean" and not something bland like "I did not understand my partners needs." Tell that to the battered wife. There is no doubt that almost anyone needs to brush up on their sales tactics and sometimes companies do not focus highly enough on sales, but if you have a product that is cheaper, faster and generally better or unique, it sure makes sales strategy much easier. That is where more companies should focus efforts.
kevin & Kathy Howard - Posted on May 14, 2010
Bill...I sold print for 30 years....and did so very, very successfully. Everyone can be correctly priced, deliver on time, and provide solutions and fresh ideas....But in the most competitive and personally lucrative markets (Chicago was mine), it is the most likable rep that holds the account...the person who "wears well" day in and day out. And please understand that the ability to do so in printing sales, is an enormously complex selling skill....it's not just natural personality that makes one "likable"....it's the relentless refinement of your trade...sales.
Kelly - Posted on May 13, 2010
Bill A great sale trainer, Jack Carew one said, All things being equal, the customer buys from the person they like the best. All things being UN-equal, the customer buys from the person they like the best. It's pretty obvious that just in the last 15 years, this statement has proven to no longer be true. We have to be WAY more substantive than likable, bringing fresh ideas and challenges to our customers. If we keep doing what worked for us in the '80s and '90s, we will lose. We have to sharpen up, get stronger, and have better and better skills. Thanks for your blog!
Click here to view archived comments...
Archived Comments:
Jack Miller - Posted on May 19, 2010
Bill, Thanks for a great post. A big part of what I do is market research to find out “what do they buy and why.” Of course, this also relates to good selling - understanding and meeting the customer’s needs. It’s interesting, though, that when you ask the question, the most important element may not be mentioned. If someone says “Price and service,” I’ll ask, “But what about quality?” The likely response is, “That’s a given.” Similarly if they say quality and service or price and quality. The challenge is to understand what element of quality or service can be a differentiator, so you don’t have to use price. In reality, many sales people aren’t so good at this – and that’s why price becomes all too important. All too often the sales rep who loses the order will say price is the reason, but rarely will the sales rep who wins the order claim that price is the reason. Go figure. Jack Miller Market-Intell
Doug Andreassen - Posted on May 17, 2010
Bill, This is by far one of your better blogs and comments. There are too many times that we blame the other forces that are around us. Granted they do have a impact, however skill is the most important element we as sales people can have...well in addition to attitude! Doug Andreassen Northwest Publishing Center
Bill Farquharson - Posted on May 16, 2010
Chris: Non-sales people believe in the product being most important. Sales people believe in sales quality. The truth is, they BOTH matter. Reps needs to accept responsibility for their role in the process, win or lose. The analogy is completely relevant. Battered wife? What in the world did you read into my blog? I think you missed my point. Sorry about that. This week's blog will further the point. Maybe that will help. Bill
Chris Mullen - Posted on May 16, 2010
I thought the divorce analogy was completely off basis. To me, the real reasons from the divorcee WERE "I was drunk" or "she was mean" and not something bland like "I did not understand my partners needs." Tell that to the battered wife. There is no doubt that almost anyone needs to brush up on their sales tactics and sometimes companies do not focus highly enough on sales, but if you have a product that is cheaper, faster and generally better or unique, it sure makes sales strategy much easier. That is where more companies should focus efforts.
kevin & Kathy Howard - Posted on May 14, 2010
Bill...I sold print for 30 years....and did so very, very successfully. Everyone can be correctly priced, deliver on time, and provide solutions and fresh ideas....But in the most competitive and personally lucrative markets (Chicago was mine), it is the most likable rep that holds the account...the person who "wears well" day in and day out. And please understand that the ability to do so in printing sales, is an enormously complex selling skill....it's not just natural personality that makes one "likable"....it's the relentless refinement of your trade...sales.
Kelly - Posted on May 13, 2010
Bill A great sale trainer, Jack Carew one said, All things being equal, the customer buys from the person they like the best. All things being UN-equal, the customer buys from the person they like the best. It's pretty obvious that just in the last 15 years, this statement has proven to no longer be true. We have to be WAY more substantive than likable, bringing fresh ideas and challenges to our customers. If we keep doing what worked for us in the '80s and '90s, we will lose. We have to sharpen up, get stronger, and have better and better skills. Thanks for your blog!