How to Land the Big Fish

My daughter Madeline is the luckiest person I have ever met in my life. We are a board-game-playing family and she is the undisputed queen of any games that involve dice. There is no question in my mind that she would excel at nailing a large account. Here’s how it would happen (assuming she goes into print sales, of course)…

One day, she’d be out driving and would get into a minor car accident. Exchanging papers with the offending party while waiting for the police to come, they’d get to talking and eventually the question, “So, what do you do for work, Madi?” would come up. After Madeline identified herself as a print sales rep, the other driver would chuckle and say, “I think we should definitely talk, then, because I am the buyer for Humungous Hospital nearby!” And thus would be the start of a beautiful relationship.

I have been a sales coach in the print industry since the day the Earth cooled. Every time—and I mean, every single time—I ask a rep how he/she got into the large account they now service, the answer has a similar path to Madeline’s fantasy one. Was it skill? No. Did they win the bid and therefore nail the contract? No. Instead, it turns out the buyer’s daughter plays softball on the same team as the rep’s cousins’ paperboy’s daughter-in-law and they met on the field. In short, it’s nine parts luck and one part networking.

I know. I know. It’s not fair and I cannot explain it, but it’s true. Every time I ask a rep, it always results in some bizarre story that turned out well for the lucky party.

What’s the takeaway here? Well, Madi is only 15, so you cannot hire her. Yet, if you are lucky, look for the networking opportunities. If not, go to church.

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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  • http://roger roger

    Hi Bill
    You owe it to yourself to read the book “Fooled by Randomness” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. This is a great read about how important luck is in successful peoples lives.

    Love your column, thanks for all the hard work.