Time to retell a great story…
Back when digital printing was called, “On-demand,” and the entire concept was brand new, I convinced a company in central Massachusetts to print their manuals using this new technology and thereby eliminate inventory.
Up till now, they printed up 15,000 sets, stuck them in binders, and stored what they didn’t need immediately. After much convincing, they took the leap into digital and the order which was due at the end of March would be for a quantity of just what they needed immediately, 100 sets, printed on a DocuTech.
Their technical writer was busy cranking out content and making changes dictated to her by the Product Manager. This led to some uncertainty in terms of total page count, making the calculation of a final price needed for the purchase order impossible. Their buyer, a woman named Joanne Mills, wasn't happy about it but gave me a PO number all the same with the instructions, “Don’t take advantage of us.”
March 31 was looming and with very little time to spare, I personally delivered 100 sets of beautifully produced software manuals that morning. Returning to my office, I did the final calculations and faxed over the price.
That next morning, I was in a meeting with my then-partner, Len Peterson, when my cell phone rang (as I recall, it was a bag phone!). It was Joanne. She was furious!
“I warned you not to take advantage of us,” she screamed! “We were paying three dollars a set previously and your price is over five times that amount. We will not pay it!”
As I stood there in Len’s beautiful condo overlooking the Boston harbor, I pondered my options before quickly deciding I needed to backtrack and resell her on the concept of just-in-time printing. I began…
“Joanne, you've been ordering 15,000 sets and now you are ordering 100. We are definitely not talking apples to apples here. Further, the print quality far exceeds what you were getting previously. Plus, I’ve given you tremendous flexibility to make changes instead of having to use all 15,000 of…”
Giggles. On the other end of the phone, I heard giggles, followed by “Bill, happy April Fools’ Day.”
Joanne told me she decided that morning to play a joke on one of her other regular vendors by telling him she wouldn’t pay his price. He immediately gave her a better number. She was shocked. So, she decided to keep calling salespeople and playing the joke until someone stood his or her ground.
I was her fourth call.
It was quite a lesson for me and a really great memory. Be careful this Friday!
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Bill Farquharson is a respected industry expert and highly sought after speaker known for his energetic and entertaining presentations. Bill engages his audiences with wit and wisdom earned as a 40-year print sales veteran while teaching new ideas for solving classic sales challenges. Email him at email@example.com or call (781) 934-7036. Bill’s two books, The 25 Best Print Sales Tips Ever and Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How? as well as information on his new subscription-based website, The Sales Vault, are available at salesvault.pro.