THE Biggest Print Sales Issue Today

While driving to an appointment just outside of Wilmington, DE, I almost drove off of the road upon seeing this billboard. Turning around, I pulled off the road to take this shot:


There it was, screaming its message against the blue sky: THE biggest issue in Print Sales today: We need sales people!

This is my sixth month working at the NAPL and if there is one statement I hear above all others, it is this one: “I can’t find good sales people A-N-Y-W-H-E-R-E!” Other popular sales-related comments include:

  • “My sales force is aging and I am worried about what my team will look like in five years.”
  • “What skills will my reps need in order to compete?”
  • “My sales people tell me they cannot get anyone on the phone. No one returns messages anymore.”
  • “I am having a hard time getting my reps to listen to me. My efforts to motivate aren’t working.”
  • Oh, and there’s this issue, too: “We tried to hire an intern. Two arranged for interviews. Both interviews were confirmed the night before. Neither of them showed up!

None of these comments are new or unique to NAPL members, of course, nor are they new or unique to 2014. It’s just that the issue seems to be more prevalent right now. Selling print requires an unprecedented amount of product knowledge. Not only is there the need to know your papers and production/postproduction equipment, suddenly reps need to be tech-savvy as well.

Poach—”What I’d really like is a rep who comes with a book of business.” Yes, that would be wonderful. Do you want a pony, too? It is not likely that this scenario will play out. A veteran rep “out looking” is “out looking” for a reason, and it is not always a good one. If your shop is tech-heavy, consider hiring certain fruit-logo’ed employees. They are already ‘wicked smaht’ in the field of files and they come pre-trained. Sweet!

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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  • Melissa Sienicki

    All great points – thanks, Bill!