What Has You too Afraid to Sell?

Some of the best sales advice I was ever given came to me about a year after I started my career. That would have made me about 22-years old. Insert flashback here.

I was selling in Worcester, MA, some 30 miles or so from the main office where my sales manager, Mike Powers, prowled. Mike and I were talking and he asked for a review of my top 10 accounts and top 10 prospects. What sounded to me like reasons why I hadn’t closed a lot of business must have come across to him as lame excuses.

After listening for a while, Mike said, “Bill, you need to go piss someone off. If you do, you’ll sell a lot more.”


Mike’s point, he explained, was that I was too nice a guy and backed down much too quickly when I heard an objection. Naturally my “Nuh-uh” self-defense system kicked in and I went into denial, complete with fetal positioning on the floor. I did not take criticism very well back then. But, like any self-torturing sales type, I replayed the conversation over and over in my head until it finally got through my thick skull and I heard what Mike was trying to tell me.

In cheerleader’s terms, he wanted me to be aggressive. B-E aggressive! OK, that advice is a lot easier for me to understand and follow.

As it turns out, he was right (it only took me 29 years to admit it, Mike). Once I started pushing back and showing a little backbone, sales increased and my confidence grew. I never did make it to the Glengarry Glen Ross division, but I learned to be ready for a fight and to engage. In short, I learned to overcome my fear.

What are you afraid of? That is, what is the worst thing that could happen if you got a tad (or a smidge) more aggressive with your selling efforts?

  • The customer says the price is too high and you justify it instead of “sharpening your pencil.”
  • A job is rejected because of a petty complaint and you fight urge to reprint just to appease.
  • You call a client that you’ve been fruitlessly pursuing and ask, “What’s it going to take for me to get an order from you?”

No one is asking you to become a Drill Sargeant, but would it kill you not to fold like a cheap tent?

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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  • Steve

    Low price and being nice is too common a sales approach. If for no other reason Bill’s advice to "piss" someone off works because it is fresh. I am sure many buyers would give a salesperson points for originality. Sometimes having the guts to confront and call BS to the buyer is the tipping point to a sale. It may well be the beginning of a lasting buying relationship.