Mañana Man Has Axe to Grind —DeWese
This is a column about showin' up. Woody Allen said it when he wrote, "Eighty percent of success is showing up."
This column is about the importance of just showin' up.
I have mostly shown up for all of my 60 years and, with my many limitations, showin' up has saved my butt. Those of you who have seen me know that I have always shown up for supper.
Lots of printing salespeople don't ever really succeed because they don't show up. I'll tell you what I mean by showin' up.
My son, Andy (26), and his buddy, Dave (32), have a lot in common. They played college baseball and both were catchers. Both young men are married. They are young, urban professionals. They have developed in to adulthood as steady, dependable guys who show up.
Dave is a lawyer in his dad's law firm. Andy is a financial consultant for Legg-Mason, a big brokerage company. Andy and Dave played on my semi-pro baseball club, the infamous Marple Crawdads, and hit for power in the fourth and fifth spots of the lineup.
I sponsor a trip to Las Vegas each year for Super Bowl weekend and Dave and Andy are part of my 10- to 12-member posse. Even though I'm an old coot, I am a case of arrested development and I enjoy the company of younger people.
Finally, with some hesitancy, I will tell you that both men are fans of the rock band, Guns N' Roses. They are not just fans. They know the words to every song ever recorded by Axl Rose and his band. They know Axl's mother's maiden name, as well as her dress size.
Although Guns N' Roses recorded a couple of numbers that are almost symphonies, namely "November Rain" and "Estranged," I am more of an old-timer when it comes to music and my development is not so arrested. I'm more of a Roy Orbison, Conway Twitty, Joe Cocker kind of fan.
Guns N' Roses is on one of those around-the-world revival tours; they scheduled two concerts in Philadelphia for December 6 and 8, 2002. Andy and Dave were thrilled. Dave found a ticket broker with front-row seats and the guys paid $600 for a pair of tickets.
Dave and Andy showed up for the concert and sat through three hours of no-name, warmup entertainers. The crowd was beginning to get edgy when, at 11 p.m., the emcee announced that Axl Rose was ill and Guns N' Roses would not be showing up. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the next day that Axl Rose was actually in his New York hotel engrossed in a Lakers game, and thus decided to bag the Philadelphia concert.
Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love, but its sports and concert fans have achieved national recognition for their unkindly behavior toward no-shows and losers.
The fans rioted when they finally heard that Guns N' Roses was not showing up. They threw chairs on stage. They trashed anything that was not nailed down.
Riot police were called in and, mercifully, Dave and Andy slipped away from the melee. A few years ago, in their pre-professional kickass phase, I would have had to bail them out.
Axl's not showing is an example of arrogant disregard.
Print salespeople who don't show up are usually examples of lazy disregard. They don't show up for press okays when there's the opportunity to spend a couple of hours building or enhancing a relationship with a client. Their rationale: "My CSR or the pressroom people can handle it."
They don't show up when they allow their estimators to fax quotes to customers. Instead, they just sit back and hope for the best. Salespeople show up when they call buyers with quotes themselves or, better yet, hand deliver the quotes so they can review the specifications and personally ASK FOR THE ORDER!
Salespeople, in my mind, fail to show up when they can't name their top five prospects for new accounts. For me this is the worst. First of all, they should be able to name their top 10 prospects because five is not enough. Then they should be able to tell me what steps they have and plan to take in landing each of the prospects.
No Good Excuses
Salespeople are not showing up when they fail to make a single face-to-face sales call during a week. That's inexcusable. The excuse is usually, "I can't make sales calls because I have to stay here in the plant to supervise my jobs." This excuse is horrible. It's bull feathers! If your company is so incompetent that it depends on you to get the work out, you need to seek employment somewhere else. Immediately.
The salespeople who make this excuse usually spend the day planning lunch, talking on the phone to friends or discussing the office NFL pool results. I am in printing plants about three days each week and I see salespeople walking the halls, curled up in their cubicles with a good book and chatting with the other salespeople who are also in the plant to "supervise" their jobs.
If you want to supervise, then get a job in production or become a CSR. Or better yet, buy your own printing company so you can supervise everything.
Salespeople complain about the difficulty of getting appointments over the phone. Just try showing up with some doughnuts, pastry or gourmet cookies. Even if the buyers won't see you, they will know you were there. You ought to show up at your clients, if you have any, at least once each week. I'll settle for you showing up at prospects once each month.
Make sure you've got something that you can leave behind. The buyers will at least know that you care and that you show up. Sooner or later they will remember you and your company favorably.
When you finally land some new business, you should show up at least five times in person and by phone for the duration of that job. This is a great opportunity to begin to build a relationship with a new account. Find something to deliver, even if there's nothing to deliver. Find something to tell them, even if there's nothing to tell.
I know I've been on a soapbox, but showin' up is near and dear to me. As limited and challenged as I am, when I have nothing else going for me, showin' up has saved my bacon.
I'm still mad about Axl Rose stiffing thousands of loyal fans at $70 to $300 a pop.
I've shown up for this column every month for more than 18 years. I've shown up, believe it or not, when I couldn't think of a topic, had nothing to say and couldn't even write anything that was funny. But dammit, I showed up.
Now you show up and get out there and sell something!
P.S. I spoke at the recent NPES Print Outlook conference and heard a printing company CEO talk about his company's success. During his presentation he said, "I've always taken the Mañana Man's advice because I get out there and sell something."
This is a guy who shows up.
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.