First Order Screw Ups

There is not much in the life of a sales rep more frustrating that an order that goes bad. We work so hard for the appointment and then the presentation and then the quoting and finally the order only to get that dreaded phone call from the client, “The job just arrived. I need to see you immediately.”

After the problem is solved, the next step is the reprint. Oh, wait! There’s actually something that goes in between those two events: The Blame Game. Similar to hearing about someone’s divorce, it’s a rare occasion when a sales rep’s first words on the subject have to do with what he or she could have done to prevent this from happening. Naturally, the specs were perfect and the special instructions were crystal clear. All Production had to do was press the magic button, for crying out loud, toss the finished items in a box, and ship it to the customer.

So easy, even a caveman could do it.

Especially disappointing is when the first order you do for a customer goes awry. While there is never a good time for this to happen, this one hurts most of all. You’ve made a number of promises regarding your quality and plant and staff and now this. Ugh!

Although you are not running the press and you are not in bindery or finishing and you probably had nothing to do with the artwork, I still think there is a certain amount of responsibility you have as the salesperson to make certain that this job goes 100 percent perfectly. I typically do not recommend that someone mother their order, but every rule has an exception and this is it.

First, make certain that your specs are accurate and that you have communicated everything that you need to communicate. If there are any questions, check with the customer. In fact, it might be a good idea to confirm everything with the client.

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."
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  • Michael Beaudette

    Very good article…On the third point, many times the sales representative if remote must rely on his production team and CSR to put eyes on. It’s all about quality and providing economic benefit to our clients. Always time to reprint if it is not right.

  • Charles Edwards

    Oh man how I know this first hand! My first order that we won from another printer went sideways. I caught it in shipping and had to call my client right away only to realize I had spec. the job wrong!! Wow how did I call out the wrong PMS color??!! Oh well…I took samples to the client and told them I called out the wrong PMS!! They where actually very sorry for me:) WOW what a great client….rework underway!!! Commission GONE this time around!!

  • Sally Kirby

    Very true Bill–great advice.

    Peace & Print,

    Sally @ s3g