DeWese--Super Bowls, Super Kudos, Super Vision
It's Super Bowl Sunday, the game is on the tiny TV here in my office, Brett Favre has just thrown a touchdown pass to Antonio Freeman—and here I sit writing this column. Boy, am I a loser.
Seems like I should have been invited to at least one Super Bowl party. I think someone should have asked me over to see the game on a big-screen TV. Wow, Terrell Davis just ran one in to tie the score.
I think I'll try to finish this column before the game ends. I'll watch the game with my left eye and write with my right eye. John Elway just ran it in to make the score Denver 14, Green Bay 7.
Most Admired Companies
While I'm thinking up a topic, I'll acknowledge some people. First, I hope you all saw that two printing companies made Fortune magazine's "America's Most-Admired Companies" list—Quad/Graphics and Valassis Communications, numbers eight and 14, respectively, on this magazine's list of the Top 500 printing companies.
Fortune identified three traits shared by the companies who made the most-admired list: inspiring leadership, knockout facilities and a sense of purpose. Congratulations to Mr. Harry V. Quadracci at Quad/Graphics and Mr. David A. Brandon at Valassis for leading companies so highly admired by customers and employees.
Talk about your inspiring leadership. One of my proudest moments as an American was the 1980 Olympics when our hockey team beat the Soviets. I don't even like hockey, but I watched every minute of that game and got a little weepy when our hard-nosed goalie, Jim Craig, led us to victory and skated around the rink with the American flag draped over his shoulders.
Well, guess what? That same Jim Craig has worked for the aforementioned Valassis Communications since 1984 as—yep, you got it—a print salesperson. And, according to Sports Illustrated, Jim manages accounts that purchase $33 million annually. Wouldn't it figure that an American hero would go to work and excel for one of America's most-admired companies?
If Fortune had a fourth trait for its most-admired companies, I'm sure it would be incomparable integrity. My award for incomparable integrity at this moment goes to Michael E. Couglin of Cornucopia, WI. Michael is a reader of this column, and we have exchanged letters.
Green Bay has kicked a field goal to tie the score. This game is getting interesting.
Michael once wrote: "Sometimes I think there is hope for me as a salesman, but there is a huge amount of inertia for me to overcome before I can go out and call on people. I have enthusiasm about my letterpress operation. But when I tell myself that I'm going on a sales call I freeze up, put it off and choke."
Michael, you are not alone. Thousands of print salespeople "choke" when they've got to make a sales call. Salespeople choke because they have no "vision" for the sales call. To have a vision you must "envision" the call. Mentally you must put yourself in the buyer's office and envision an ideal result. You can't envision the call if you haven't identified the results that you wish.
Try this. The evening before a sales call, handwrite three objectives for the call. They might be: Make a friend and leave with a reason to call on him or her again; tell the buyer six good reasons for trusting you to print his or her work; and ask if there are any jobs planned that fit your shop. Next, write a list of a dozen good reasons to "trust" you. Finally, handwrite an ending to this sentence, "My call tomorrow will be a success if…"
Michael, I will bet you one of my National League Mañana Man autographed baseballs that, if you do what I ask before every sales call, you will never choke again. This, incidentally, will work for the rest of you chokers.
Terrell Davis just rushed for another Broncos touchdown to make it Denver 24, Green Bay 17. Only 34 seconds left in the third quarter!
Michael showed me even more honesty in the same letter when he wrote, "Another thing I have realized from your book—I fail to ask for orders. I'm just elated when someone reads my mind, I guess, and places an order."
Now, Michael, you are talking about something I understand; customers so sympathetic that they give you work because you are so beautifully pitiful. I pioneered this concept in 1965 so don't think you've come up with an original idea.
I invented a multitude of sympathy-generating traits, but they have never included failing to ask for the order. Somehow, I have always been gifted with knowing how and when to try to close the sale.
Whoa, Antonio Freeman just caught another Favre touchdown pass. It's 24-24 in the fourth quarter.
Try this if you have trouble asking for the order. Find that sheet of paper on which you wrote your vision of the call. Turn it over and write five order-getting questions. They might be something like these:
- Will you trust me with this order today?
- I'd like to be (one of) your printer(s). When will you trust me to go to work for you?
- I realize that your present printers are some of the finest around, but occasionally they are overbooked. May I call on you from time to time to remind you that I'm available as an emergency backup printer?
- You have given me some ideas today. May I see you again next week for a few minutes to demonstrate some ways that your work can be produced (a.) better, (b.) faster or (c.) cheaper?
Now, fold the paper twice, put it in your pocket, and remove it as soon as you enter the buyer's office. Hold it as if you are going to take notes. You will feel a new sense of CLOSING POWER surging from the paper into your hand, racing up your arm and coursing through your entire body.
Thanks to you, Michael, and your topics of call reluctance and closing skills, I have finished this column with five minutes left on the clock at the Super Bowl. Thanks for the invitation to drop by if I ever get up to northern Wisconsin to that tiny fishing village on the shores of Lake Superior. Your invitation is better than any stupid Super Bowl party.
The rest of you need to get out there and sell something!
Denver just proved that underdogs with heart can win. The game ended Denver 31, Green Bay 24!
About the Author
Harris DeWese is the author of "Now Get Out There and Sell Something!" published by Nonpareil Books. DeWese is a principal at Compass Capital Advisors. DeWese specializes in investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, sales, marketing, planning and management services to printing companies. He is one of the authors of the annual Compass Report, the definitive source of information regarding printing industry merger and acquisition activity.