‘Jonesing’ for Some Sales –Farquharson/Tedesco
Indiana Jones was a stalwart hero in his quest for artifacts worldwide. It’s a little-known fact that when he retired, he went into sales management for a printing business outside of Washington, DC. Given the fact that he routinely dodged poison darts, crawled under moving vehicles and fought against evil, this was pretty much a lateral move for him.
Recently, an old recording of a seminar he gave at Drupa 95 was unearthed, restored and made available to two lucky Printing Impressions columnists. We were able to view most of the material before a couple of G-men burst into the conference room to confiscate the film, fly it to Washington and seal it in a government warehouse. What we saw was an extraordinary example of the man's genius, and an entertaining analogy regarding the act of sales prospecting.
The seminar was called “Indiana Jones and the Boulder of Doom.” The stage was empty except for two things. One was Dr. Jones. He was dressed in his finest Eddie Bauer—his corporate sponsor—outdoor wear, complete with whip and sidearm (like any print sales manager would carry). Along side of him was the huge round rock from the first movie. You know the one: It almost sealed him in the cave. Yeah, that one. Dr. Jones started the program by explaining what the rock represents and then goes on to teach a lesson on the value of perseverance. The following is our best recollection of what was said…
“If I challenged you to move this rock, what would you do? My guess is that you’d come up on stage, throw your body up against it and push with all of your might. Seeing no result, you’d likely quit, return to your seat and sit down. Likewise, if I told you to grow your sales, you’d probably spend a day blitz-calling prospect after prospect. Getting just as discouraged after the predictable futility, you’d return to your desk at the end of the day, give up and sit down.
“Clearly, this is no ordinary rock. Just as clearly, these aren’t ordinary times. One day of prospecting has the same effect as one try at moving this boulder. In either case, the effort was insufficient. Let’s try a different approach.”
With that, Dr. Jones walked over to the rock and pushed it with one hand. Nothing. "That was a phone call. As you saw, there was no movement. Clearly, I got voice mail." Laughs filled the hall.
"But, if I called two more times, left two more messages (he kicks the rock), stopped by while I was in the area (nudges it with his shoulder) and then stuck a handwritten-postcard in the mail (presses his hip into it), the outcome might be different." Suddenly, the rock shuddered a bit, then stopped. "There! Did you see that?" he yelled as the audience gasped.
"One touch, no matter how hard, does nothing to move the rock. Multiple touches? That did the trick, ladies and gentlemen. Yet 90 percent of all first-time sales calls go without any follow-up action. We call once. We stop by once. We send one e-mail. After that, we get busy with quoting, estimating and plant tours, and before you can say 'Gutenberg,' any possibility of momentum is lost." Ever the showman, Jones walked to a table for some Evian before continuing...
"Isaac Newton once said, 'A body in motion tends to stay in motion, and a body at rest tends to stay at rest.' Newton wasn't talking about sales, but he might well have been. The boulder that stands before you represents your sales. Specifically, it personifies the result of your new business efforts. Increasing your new business is all about momentum. If you are diligent and consistent with your activities, you will see results in the form of appointments, quotes and, ultimately, orders. We saw what happened when one prospect was contacted repeatedly. What if we took that action with several prospects? It's certain that the rock would move and good things would happen.
"But, just as certain is what happens when we stop prospecting: The rock—the appointments, quotes and orders—stops, too. All of that wonderful momentum is not self-sustaining. The only way we can keep it going is to continue making the calls, sending the e-mails and banging on doors. Seems so simple a point that you might ask me why a sales rep would ever change a formula that he/she saw was working.
"That is the 'Doom' part. We are doomed to repeating a common sales mistake and getting lulled into a sense of false security. Our steady selling efforts have resulted in some serious boulder movement. We are busy, perhaps crazy busy, and profess to have no time to make any new calls. And, because sales are up, we tell ourselves that we don't really need to prospect any more. And, for a while, we don't notice any difference: The rock keeps on rolling. The phone rings. Orders are placed. Commission checks are cashed. Our handicap goes down and life is good. What we don't notice, however, is that the rock's momentum is fading, and without any new pushes, it slows and stops.
"Think for a second about your boulder. Where's it at? Are you pushing it on a consistent basis? Or only when you are in a panic or when your sales manager applies some (grabbing his whip) motivation?" Laughs. "Lose an account and you need four new customers to replace it. That is the new mantra of sales. With orders being smaller and less profitable, we are challenged with dramatically increasing our efforts to find new business. That's a lot of constant prospecting.
"When you get in the office tomorrow, picture a boulder next to your desk. Then, pick up the phone, send out an e-mail or drop a letter in the mail. In other words, kick, push, nudge and press that rock until it moves. Do it again the next day. And the next. And the next. And, when you see results, just consider what will happen if you stop. One more thing: I've uncovered the secret to beating voice mail. It's..."
And that's when the goons barged in and took the tape. Another 15 seconds and we could have unlocked the secret that has plagued printing sales reps for generations. Oh well. Hollywood always sets us up for a sequel. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com.