What Really Scares You? -- DeWese
The April 2, 2001, edition of Time magazine featured a cover story titled "What Scares You?" The subtitle was, "Don't be afraid to read about the promising new cures for hundreds of phobias." Well, I have to tell ya, the title scared the bejeebers out of me. I was mysteriously compelled to read it.
The editors at Time must have a huge research staff because the article listed several hundred phobias alphabetically. Just listen to some of the "H" phobias. There is hedonophobia or the fear of feeling pleasure. Then there is heliophobia or the fear of the sun. And then there is hemophobia, which is the fear of blood. And there is herpetophobia or the fear of reptiles. I'll skip down to the "Ms" where I find mycophobia (fear of mushrooms) and myxophobia (fear of slime).
I could only think of one phobia for me and it wasn't listed in the Time article. My phobia is mriophobia or the fear of ever having another MRI. They can cart my carcass off to the incinerator before I ever let anyone wedge my wide body in another MRI tube for 45 minutes.
I gave the article to my new sidekick, Pablo El Primo y Montoya de la Santos y Franco, to read. Pablo has hired on to help me in my quest to profitize all the printing companies in America. I hired him because he claims to be Spanish royalty and a direct descendent of the late Generalissimo Francisco Franco on his father's side and the late Queen Isabella on his mother's side. I figured a little royalty would class up my act.
Pablo reads the Time article on phobias and tells me that it doesn't cover any sales phobias. I said, "Pablo, mi amigo, you are right! And, it doesn't cover any print sales phobias." We were inspired. (It doesn't take much to inspire us on a Friday night.)
I grabbed a pencil and paper, Pablo went for a bottle of his homemade muscatel and we recorded all the print sales phobias we have seen in America's print salespeople. It warmed our hearts because we knew we were doing something good for the printing industry.
Laboraphobia—this is the fear of work. Its symptoms include indolence, as in sitting at one's desk pretending to work while furtively reading a paperback novel or working a crossword puzzle. It also manifests itself in sleeping late, hiding out in movie theaters and going home early. Victims of laboraphobia are skilled at making excuses like, "Our prices are too high." And, "My car is in the shop and I've got a bad case of the gout."
The roots of this fear are found in some salespeople who have a powerful affection for leisure activities coupled with the belief that anything remotely associated with work might be painful. Others who suffer from laboraphobia believe that they are among the exalted and, because of their superiority, should not have to work for a living—work is beneath them.
Sales managers and company owners have trouble dealing with salespeople who suffer from laboraphobia. Generally, these folks look good, are witty and "show a lot of promise." Pablo and I tried to find a cure and could find none documented anywhere in the psychological journals. We even checked the Internet. Our recommendation is that sales managers should warn them three times then cut bait (fire the person) and then anonymously recommend the laboraphobic salesperson to your competitors.
Prospectoraphobia is the fear of all activities associated with developing new business. These salespeople are fine servicing existing accounts. They know the work. They know all the players at their accounts. They know the way back and forth from the plant to their customers' offices.
This phobia is rooted in the fear of the unknown. The prospectoraphobic salesperson doesn't know the accounts listed in his prospect database. This results in a lot of fear-inducing questions like, "What if they don't like me?" Or rationalizations like, "I'll bet they've already got a printer." Or, "This prospect probably doesn't even have any work that fits us."
Prospectoraphobics come in two varieties. Some salespeople simply haven't been trained to prospect for new business. They can overcome the phobia if they are armed with some account development knowledge. Still others, however, and unfortunately, suffer from two other sales maladies: waddaidonextophobia and stukindaboxaphobia. These phobics can be identified easily because you will hear them ask, "I called the prospect twice and they didn't call back. What do I do next?" Or, you might hear them say something like, "The prospect said she already has three printers and now I'm stuck."
Resourcefulness is a rare commodity in humans today. For many, they simply haven't ever been told, "It's okay to think independently and creatively AND then it's actually encouraged that you act on your ideas." Somehow and somewhere along the line, these salespeople were led to believe that they would be punished if they acted on their own initiative and their action failed.
Pablo and I were rollin' now. I reached over to put another Roy Orbison CD in the stereo and he poured two more tumblers of sweet muscatel. We knew we were not oenophobic (fear of wines) or orbisonaphobic (fear of the late great Orbison).
Here are some more phobias that Pablo and I discovered among print salespeople.
Specificationiophobia is the fear of job specifications. These people believe that accurately recording all those complicated job specs can cause brain damage.
Technologyphobia is the fear of new prepress, pressroom and bindery technology. Sufferers of this phobia have actually been seen throwing up at the mere mention of computer-to-plate (CTP). One salesperson was actually hospitalized after hearing his company CEO describe a new in-line finishing capability for one of their webs.
Salesplaniphobia is the fear of any activity associated with thinking through, in advance, how you intend to grow sales or profits. This activity is called planning. These planning phobics resist yearly sales plans, budgets and any type of account pre-call planning. The root of this phobia is the fear of making a commitment to do something in the future. These salespeople have been known to break out in hives, pig out on Oreos or take to their beds for days.
Now, Pablo and I are really cookin'. We're thinking, "The Time article says that shrinks are making a fortune curing things like plutophobia (fear of wealth). We have no fear of wealth, so we're going to hit the road to America's printing companies curing salesphobias. Or, better yet, since I've got just a wee little smidgeon of autoclaustrophobia, you readers send us your phobias and we'll send you a cure. We'll price your cure when we've determined how much money you've got and your level of desperation.
Meanwhile, Pablo and I are going to move on to some more advanced scientific research and a little more muscatel while you get out there 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 merger and acquisition activity. DeWese specializes in investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, sales, marketing, planning and management services to printing companies.