How I Sold $100 Million in Print: Part 2
In my first segment I focused on lifestyle goals. I suggested that anyone starting a career in sales should get in touch with the kind of work they want to do, the money that want to make, and where they want to live. Knowing who you are and what you like is critical to making the most of your years whether you choose sales or some other segment of business.
You also need to be sensitive to the employer you select. Getting hired is important but getting hired by the right place is critical. If it isn't a fit, it will ultimately fail.
Pay attention in your interview. Do the prospective employer's goals run contrary to yours? Do you share values? Does the staff you meet seem excited or downtrodden? Do you see an environment you can flourish in?
Companies come in all flavors. I have worked for rock solid organizations that weren't particularly concerned with high quality. Good work was good enough. It didn't have to be award winning.
That's ok. There is room for companies like this. Is it right for you?
I have also worked for companies that insisted on being first in new technologies. Their work was the best I've seen and there are plenty of awards supporting their argument.
Companies like this come with big learning curves, however. When you're first at something, you're inventing processes as you go. Is that paradigm right for you?
Finally, I have worked for at least one company that thought everything had to be sold on price. Salesmanship was less important than the estimate. It took lots of pressure off of sales, but it also discouraged super-stardom. Would that be right for you?
I can't tell you what to choose but I can tell you your choice is important. It's also personal. You have to look in the mirror and do your best to answer the question, "What kind of environment best fits my goals and threshold for discovery?"
For me, it was highest quality. I wanted to do the work that nobody else could figure out. If production said it was impossible, I doubled down on my efforts to sell it. I worked tirelessly to learn the difference between impossible and inconvenient.
Earning a reputation for doing difficult work isn't for the timid. It brings you projects that don't always have a right to happen. You don't get called for easy stuff. You get called for "absolutely-can't-fail, world-is-gonna-end-if we-don't-have-it-Monday" stuff. You're asked to make boxes that ring when you open them; books that should take weeks, in 18 hours; and packages that smell like the beach when you open them in Ohio.
This paradigm was right for me but lots of my pals considered it too stressful. You have to know what works for you. Knowing what winds your watch will help you pick the right company, and for that matter, the right assignment.
When I was teaching sales at Clemson, I gave the students different types of class assignments. One might be to determine what asset to invest in. Another might be to prospect (find similar companies to a profiled example). Still another might be to research a specific market sector.
I always encouraged the students to pay attention to which assignment they enjoyed the most. "What you like provides clues to your passion" I would tell them. It's important you do this when selecting an employer too.
The next segment will talk about prospecting and how to build a proper target list. For many readers, the process of selling will start in earnest at that point.
But you won't win the prospects you want if you're selling from the wrong place. The wrong place can only hold you back. You’ll never soar if you’re with the wrong employer or doing the wrong stuff.
Bill Gillespie has been in the printing business for 48 years and has been in sales and marketing since 1978. He was formerly the COO of National Color Graphics, an internationally recognized commercial printer and EVP of Brown Industries, an international POP company. Bill has enjoyed business relationships with flagship brands including, but not limited to, Apple, Microsoft, Coca Cola, American Express, Nike, MGM, Home Depot, and Berkshire Hathaway. He is an expert in printing sales, having written more than $100,000,000 in personal business during his career. Currently, Bill consults with printing companies, equipment manufacturers, and software firms. He can be reached by email (email@example.com) or by phone (770-757-5464).