Listening Lands the Sale

(Blog #19 in the ongoing series derived from a book Harris DeWese wrote several years ago—“A Year of Selling Profitably.”)

I’m not one to wave my flag, but this time I’m gonna do it anyway.

I don’t write my column in Printing Impressions magazine or these blogs from some made up stuff I read by sales consultants. I didn’t listen to any tapes or watch any videos.

I actually sold printing. Everything from huge web catalog jobs and sheetfed work in all sizes and run lengths to roll/cut-and-stack labels, 1″ miniature folded inserts and outserts and a lot of offset lithography that I have forgotten. I never sold any gravure. I was involved in the sale of a couple of gravure companies, but I never sold any gravure printing.

Millions and millions worth of printing. By my crude calculations, well over $150 million.

I sold a few more than 150 printing companies whose aggregate sales totaled a little more than $5 billion. I’m an old guy, and it took a lot of years and good helpers to sell that many companies.

Finally, the hardest sales were always consulting projects because I had nothing on the shelf where I could just reach up and say, “Here, this will solve the problem.” I had to sell the job and then deliver what I sold. If I wanted to be paid, I had to deliver it successfully so my client was satisfied.

I couldn’t have sold all that if had be a talking-head blowhard. This blog so far is tad “blowhard,” and I hate that. I did this bragging to make a point, which is I listened my way into those sales. And they were hard sales.

My clients taught me how to sell. They taught me how to listen and then ask the next question.

Harris DeWese is the author of "Now Get Out There and Sell Something." He is chairman/CEO at Compass Capital Partners and an author of the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of info regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed 100-plus printing company transactions and is viewed as the preeminent deal maker in the industry. He specializes in investment banking, M&A, sales, marketing and management services to printers.

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  • Ruby

    And I’ll bet, that like me, you walked uphill both ways in the driving snowstorms of Florida, wearing high heel shoes.
    Great post, thanks

  • laurazfu

    Great post!

  • Mark Henry

    If you’re truly listening and working to understand the client’s challenges then you don’t need to sell anything.. the customer will buy the solution you develop to answers their problem.. the solution that removes their pain point.

    Stop the presentations and START the conversations…

    Mark H

    PS – Feel free to get up on your blog box and stand tall anytime.