How I Sold $100 Million In Print
You’ve got to have goals. I’m not talking about quotas or forecasts. Those come later. They’re very important but that isn’t where you start. You have to identify what you want to do and how you want to do it.
Where do you want to live? What kind of people do you want to do business with? How much money do you want to make? What kind of projects, products or services do you want to touch? What makes you happy and what would get you out of bed every morning excited and ready to go? You have to know those things first.
When I talk with reps face to face, I use the vacation example. I suggest that no reasonable person would take time off work, take the kids out of school, pack the car, back it out of the driveway and then ask, “Where are we going?” A vacation with this little planning and forethought would be left totally to chance. Odds are it would disappoint the entire family. Your career is exactly the same.
It’s been my experience that the most successful (fulfilled) people know what makes them happy. They have taken time to answer the questions above and a whole lot more. They have an honest assessment of themselves, their goals and the world they live in. Very little time is wasted, and a remarkable focus is evident.
Once you’ve set personal goals, the rest is just math. The amount of money you want to make will drive how many clients of a certain kind you need. The conversion rate from prospect to customer will tell you how many names you need on your target list. Your appointment success will dictate how many cold calls you need to make. You get the idea. It’s numbers that drive numbers that make your goals possible.
Now … I’m guessing there are people reading that will say, “I want any client that will take my call and give me a purchase order.” Let me raise my hand and say I’m one of those too. I want anyone with money to spend, to know my number and my company. I can only think of an order or two that I have ever said no to.
But over time, you’re going to migrate to people or industries or business sectors that you like the most. What you do well for one is probably a fit for others in the same space. If you know how to help Nike and love doing it, chances are you would also be valuable to Bridgestone and Russell and a host of others with similar objectives.
The same thing goes for what part of a company you choose to serve. Some people like the purchasing department. Others are more manufacturing focused and love the process of seeing things built. Likewise, some enjoy marketing and the strategy of helping clients sell their stuff. All are valuable, but the demands and the kind of people you serve will be very different.
You owe it to yourself to know what flips your own switch. If you don’t, you’re going to be less than successful. You might even be unhappy. This could happen even if you’re writing orders and cashing checks.
Several years ago, at the suggestion of my minister, I sat on a beach and made a list of things that made me happy. It was surprisingly simple. It led me to trim baggage I was carrying from my life. It helped me to become laser beam focused on the things that mattered most and how I could be of the greatest service to my community and my profession. It was not limiting. It was empowering.
You owe it to yourself, your career and your family to do the same thing. Once you have looked at yourself in the mirror and have set your personal goals, things will become very clear. The path you need to follow and the calls you need to make will be just things between you and where you want to go. The journey will be work but it will be work you don’t mind because you’re doing it for you.
And one last thing … if you like sales and someone tells you it isn’t your thing don’t believe them. Look around. Some of the most unlikely people are married. That’s right. Somebody someplace thinks they’re great. There are clients out there too for every one of us. Just make the call!
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).