Goal: A Sales Entrepreneur –Farquharson/Tedesco
Imagine being on a football team. You are on offense and your quarterback gives you a play to run. "Twenty-four Blue. On three," he shouts. The team lines up. The QB points at the middle linebacker (for reasons unknown). Defensive players shuffle to find a seam that will allow them to defy the advice of their Anger Management Counselors. "Hut one. Hut two. Hike!" comes the call and the play is run.
You head back into the huddle and the quarterback says, "24 Blue. On two!" That's odd, you think. But you get hit in the head a lot more than he does, so maybe this guy knows what he's doing. Back to the line you get to endure another round of disparaging comments regarding your family made by the large man opposite you.
"Hut one. Hike!" calls the QB and, again, you run the same play and achieve the same outcome. Trudging back to the huddle, you are stunned to hear the next play: "24 Blue. On four!"
"Hold on a second," you interject, as if football were democratic. "We've just run that play twice and now we are going to try it a third time? Don't you think doing the same thing over and over is going to lead to the same results?"
Back in 1993 or so, there was a widely circulated quote made by the head of a major print provider that went something like this, "In 10 years, 70 percent of our sales will come from clients that we do not currently have, buying products that we do not currently offer." Quite a few seminar slides displayed that thought, but few heeded its wisdom. Most printers simply ran "24 Blue" again and again. And again.
Fast forward 18 years and those "24 Blue" printers have either closed their shops and gone to work for others, or they are servicing a continually dwindling market. Those who are thriving have found new products and services to sell to new customers; clients they didn't have, say, 10 years ago.
What's the difference? Entrepreneurialism in sales.
Entrepreneurs are a rare and sometimes strange breed. They see opportunity in a "Dang, why didn't I think of that?" kind of way. They are never satisfied with the status quo and they understand the need to constantly challenge the present in order to have a future.
Business magazines fawn over them as "prognosticators" and "visionaries," but they are not touched by the hand of God and given special powers. They just get bored easily and whatever gift they have, you can learn.
What would you do if you believed you needed to change or die? "24 Blue" might work today and possibly tomorrow, but its effectiveness will dwindle over time and you will quickly face the financial reality of lost business. Perhaps if you knew the secrets of the Sales Entrepreneur, the outcome could be different…
1) Redefine “satisfaction.” For the Sales Entrepreneur, there is no finish line. Success and profitability come and stay for a while but, like life itself, nothing is permanent. Not only is change necessary, it's the driving factor and the motivator.
The Sales Entrepreneur is cursed with a unique form of unhappiness (for lack of a different term). He/she envisions, plans for, embraces and engages change, and it works...for a while. But soon a little bird starts chirping and, as sure as winter follows summer, the hunt is on for the next big thing. Satisfaction, then, comes not from the result, but from the process.
2) Focus on the customer, not the competition. Printers are funny (in a lemmings-over-the-cliff kind of way). They pepper the paper sales rep for information about their competition and occasionally buy a piece of equipment just to keep up with the shop down the street, forgoing the thought, "Can I sell its output?"
The Sales Entrepreneur's thought process must involve and include the client's future, first and foremost. He/she must ask questions like, "Where are they going? What are their challenges and opportunities?"
Joe Cavey, owner of RPM Solutions Group in Baltimore, commented, "The difference between selling print today and selling print 20 years ago is that the customer expects you to understand their business." The good news is that Joe, like other Sales Entrepreneurs, does not need to know how to run his client's business.
He simply needs to know the questions to ask—questions that will allow him to determine which of RPM's diverse print solutions will help the customer achieve its goals. The business to focus on, then, is not your's, and it's not the shop down the street. It's that of your client's.
3) Think ahead in six-month intervals. To call the Sales Entrepreneur a visionary would be accurate. But, it's not necessary to see 10 years down the road. So, before you run out and buy a crystal ball, know that the future can be seen six months at a time.
Your Polaroid picture can come into focus by asking this question on an ongoing basis: "Where do I want to be in six months?" Everything is on the line here and nothing is sacred.
Question everything and quantify it: Number of new customers. Percentage of additional business from existing clients. Sales skill improvement. New knowledge of the printing industry.
Next, write it down and review it often. The Sales Entrepreneur sets these kinds of growth goals and makes frequent adjustments. The result? A work in progress. Constantly.
Not only is Entrepreneurial thinking essential, it's fun! No longer are you dreading the drive in to work and experiencing the same old, same old. Now, the excitement of change shoots you out of bed and energizes every aspect of your life.
You have a new playbook, and today's outcome is different than yesterday's. You are the quarterback, and the play-calling is in your hands. You step up to the line and do that middle-linebacker-pointy thing. You look left and then right.
Having considered more than just "How am I going to sell print today?" you stand with renewed confidence and lean in for the snap. With a shout, the ball is in your hands and something good is about to happen...
For the rest of you, huddle up and listen. The field in front of you is changing and is in motion. The rules are different now than they were before.
That forces you to change your approach. So, unless you want to find yourself selling popcorn in the stands, you will need to adapt and become Entrepreneurial. It's a new world. It's a new day. We attack on three. Ready? Break! PI
—Bill Farquharson, T.J. Tedesco
About the Authors
Bill Farquharson is the president of Aspire For (www.AspireFor.com). His Sales Challenge can help drive your sales momentum. Contact him at (781) 934-7036 or e-mail email@example.com. T.J. Tedesco is team leader of Grow Sales, a 15-year-old marketing and PR services company. He is author of "Playbook for Selling Success in the Graphic Arts Industry" and five other books. Contact Tedesco at (301) 294-9900 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Farquharson is a sales trainer for the graphic arts. Email him at Bill@AspireFor.com or call (781) 934-7036. Bill’s two books, The 25 Best Print Sales Tips Ever and Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How? as well as information on his new subscription-based website, The Sales Vault are available at BillFarquharson.com.