Consider Taking Tips to Heart --DeWese
In my December 2003 column, I offered to send you readers "400 Sales Tips for Printing Sales Professionals." I concocted this offer at 3 a.m. on the morning of Attila the Editor's stupid deadline whilst I was stoned on a caffeine high. Coffee is about all I have left now that I'm on this stupid South Beach diet and working out with a personal trainer. So far, my 61-year-old biceps are up to 18˝, I'm begging my neighbors to let me redecorate their homes and I can bench press about twice my IQ.
The 400 tips idea was a gratuitous, self-serving act. I assumed most of my readers would be amazed at my generosity, but would be either too lazy or too self-satisfied to ever actually request the tips.
I never dreamed that several hundred readers would immediately e-mail me and ask for these non-existent tips.
Well, now they exist and I've sent them to everyone who wrote to me. I missed Christmas, New Year's and the Super Bowl typing up these damn things. I had to wade through old cocktail napkins, scraps of paper, the backs of envelopes and a pile of matchbook covers, and the document turned out to be enormous (116 pages and 30,569 words).
More, For Free
I lost track of the tip count, which turned out to be 419 tips. So everybody got more than they bargained for. Which, incidentally, cost them nothing, nada, no dinero, $0.00.
It seems that my coffee-induced act of deadline desperation has turned out to be a hit, at least in the world of printing salespeople.
Now, if anyone else wants the tips, it will cost you a check for $40 payable to either Tomorrows Children's Fund (cancer research for children) or The Spear Youth and Family Center (a full-functioning YMCA for underprivileged kids and their parents).
That's right—make your $40 tax deductible check payable (or two checks for $20 to each charity) to either of these charities. Mail it to me along with your e-mail address at: Compass Capital Partners, 259 Radnor-Chester Rd., Radnor, PA, 19380 and we will e-mail the 419 tips to you.
That is less than one dime per sales tip, any one of which may just be the one that puts you on the road to fame, glory, enormous wealth and a guest shot on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Both of these worthy efforts benefit children, and men who are printers founded these charitable organizations. Incidentally, both men are also superb print salespeople.
David Jurist who, along with his printing executive wife Alice, owns half of TanaSeybert, a $60 million general commercial company in Manhattan, founded Tomorrows Children's Fund. The Spear Youth and Family Center was founded by Jeff and Gail Spear, the former owners of John C. Otto Co., in East Longmeadow, MA. John C. Otto is a general commercial printing company that, under Jeff's leadership, was the most profitable general commercial printing company I have ever known. Jeff sold the company to Consolidated Graphics and it remains one of their top performing companies.
Jeff Spear and David Jurist are in my Top 10 for being all-around fine human beings. They are master motivators, superb leaders and marvelous communicators who are sincere to the bone. Both men are masters of the nearly lost practice of considerate conduct. The behavior of these men has motivated another list of good sales behavior that you lucky original recipients of the "Mañana Man's 419 Sales Tips for Print Sales Professionals" can add to your repertories.
Somebody wake up Marvelle Stump who is America's worst printing salesperson and America's most inconsiderate salesperson. I've never heard Marvelle say, "thank you" for one of his rare orders. I've only heard Marvelle pay compliments like, "I sho' nuff like Jack Daniels and Mama's fried catfish and hushpuppies."
Speaking of compliments, get out your note pads and list these principles for paying good compliments.
1) Don't ever pay a compliment unless it is sincere. Gratuitous flattery stinks and the recipient can smell it. This is especially true of print buyers who are suspicious of you in the first place.
2) It's okay, in fact encouraged, to pay a compliment even if you think the recipient already knows your feelings. Mark Twain said, "I can live two months on a good compliment."
3) Don't confuse complimenting with "patronizing." Patronizing behavior is condescending and self-serving. It stinks more than insincere behavior.
4) Be a good compliment receiver. It is not necessary to reciprocate immediately when you are paid a compliment. People who are quick to answer a compliment with a compliment are seen as not being able to graciously handle a compliment. The best practice is to simply say, "thank you" or modestly answer, "gee, you have made my day."
5) Word your compliments carefully. This causes the recipient to think that you thought about the specifics behind the compliment.
Marvelle Stump might say to Bubba Tebault at Tebault's Used Trailers & Cars, "Bubba, you the best damn customer I got." We know full well that Bubba is Marvelle's only customer. A good compliment should be something like, "I appreciate the time you spend preparing your specifications. It makes our job a lot easier, but it also makes us work even harder to satisfy you."
6) Make it a daily practice to think about a person you have never complimented. It could be your spouse or significant other (if you rarely or never compliment your life companion, shame on you. You are a hopeless wretch who should get out of sales and become a security guard at an atomic waste site.) It could be someone in the bindery. Maybe your receptionist. You don't need a specific incident to prompt a compliment. Think about your target and what characteristic(s) deserve praise. Then walk right up to them and say, "Shirley, I think about this often, but have neglected to ever tell you that you are the face of this company. You do a great job greeting our customers on the phone and when they come to the plant."
7) Paying one good compliment every day will absolutely make you a better person and, hence, a better salesperson. About 20 years ago I began a practice of letting one person in traffic daily. This is a big deal in Philadelphia and New York traffic. This worked so well that I moved it up to two and then three people daily. Now, it's up to everybody who can pull in front of me.
I'm talkin' about the meanest looking delivery van drivers and mothers driving SUVs with a load of kids. Just think about trying to pull out of a minute market into a line of traffic. You're already late and it looks like you'll never be able to pull into traffic. You are pissed.
Then some old guy lets you in. He actually stops, leaving you ample room to enter traffic, waves you in and an angry world is just a little happier. Lord knows we need more happiness and less rage!
I borrowed heavily for this column from a book titled "Choosing Civility—Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct" by P.M. Forni. It's available in paperback at your bookstore or one of the Internet bookstores. While you're investing your $40 in my 419 tips, why don't you spend a few more bucks on Dr. Forni's book? I may be testing you on it in future columns.
Now do not embarrass me by failing to order the "Mañana Man's 419 Sales Tips for Print Sales Professionals." I'm using the honor system; if you wish to order the list by e-mail, you can send the check later. Just e-mail me at email@example.com and we will send this humongous document back via e-mail.
Finally, thanks to Dave Jurist and Jeff Spear for inspiring this column. I hope the readers express their thanks with their tax-deductible donations to these men's efforts.
You will find that you have a hell of a lot more opportunities for considerate conduct if you will just get out there, see more customers and prospects, and sell something!
About the Author
Harris DeWese is the author of Now Get Out There and Sell Something!, published by Nonpareil Books. He is a principal at Compass Capital Partners and is an author of the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of information regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese specializes in investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, sales, marketing, planning and management services to printing companies. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.