The Sales Prevention Department

Before you eat in a restaurant, you should first be a waiter or a waitress.

Before you drive a car, you should spend a day with a cop on the road.

Before your first day in Sales, you should spend time in the shop as a CSR.

There are two jobs that I would love to do before I die. The first is to sell cars. I love cars but that’s not why. I am tired of the poor selling skills that come from that corner of our profession and would like to show them how to do it right. I think Bill Belichick has the same thinking as a reason for signing Tim Tebow, though his motivation is a little more vengeful towards the Jets, however.

The other job that I would like to do is to serve as a waiter. Again, I see this as a chance to right the wrongs of past eating experiences and have some perspective on the rigors of the job from the other side. But I will save further comments for the mythical column I write for Food magazine.

Salespeople have a skewed vision of what it takes to be in Customer Service. The amount of grousing and complaining and the sheer volume of blame that gets put on the support staff is summarized in a phrase I heard recently when describing the dysfunction within one certain printing company: The Sales Prevention Department.

But what if we had to serve time being on the receiving end of an order? How different would it be if we were handed the drop-and-run job instead of being the drop-ee? I’d imagine we’d all get a slight glimpse into their world and be all the better for it. Communication would improve. Compliments would flow. Thanks from the clients would be shared. Just a brief stint at the desk would give us the perspective to know better.

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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  • Stan Konwiser

    If the job of CSR in a printing company is considered to be such a Hell, there are many things that need fixing in that company before you play with switching job rolls. Where I come from, the relationship with the customer has to be a good one where people enjoy their jobs and like/respect who they are dealing with or the customers simply go away.

  • Andre Palko

    The last time I set out to buy a car it took me months to actually do it, for the very reason you mentioned. It’s painful. However it turned out to be one of the best sales experiences (of any type) I’ve ever had. Towards the end of the process I asked the fellow his background. Turns out he is a retired sales manager for a major corporation. He started selling cars to help his son-in-law, the dealership manager. He said it didn’t matter at all what he was selling. The skills were the same and he liked it just as much. His goal was to help the person sitting in front of him.

  • Melissa Sienicki

    Another brilliant post, Bill! It not only makes you think about the relationship between Sales and CSR, or CSR and the rest of the company, but different company relationships in general. It makes you think about what the other departments go through and how we should take the time to understand and appreciate them. And, of course, I love a good Downton Abbey reference!

  • Kelly Mallozzi

    We used to have an appreciation day where the salespeople cooked and served a meal to the rest of the staff – it went a long way toward maintaining functional if not friendly relations!