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Bill Farquharson

The Sales Challenge

By Bill Farquharson

About Bill

Bill Farquharson, president of Aspire For, will help drive your sales through his tips, ideas, wit and wisdom.

Selling Smarter

Rosalie Marcus
Speak Now and Sell More!
Apr 15, 2014

How would you like a powerful marketing strategy that can position you as a leader in your field, put you...

Promotional Fashionista

Colleen McKenna
3 Ways to Style an Imprinted Tee
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Imprinted T-shirts are in with the fashion elite. Here's how they are styling the tees....

Beyond Words

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Adapting Your Style
Apr 14, 2014

Many of us have taken a behavioral style inventory at some point in our careers. While the intent of these...

Guest Blogs

Guest Contributor
The Anatomy of Emotional Marketing
Apr 11, 2014

You've probably heard the old adage: "It's the thought that counts." This could not be any truer, especially in business. When...

Kiwi's Coaching Corner

Paul  Kiewiet
Without People, Brands Have No Meaning
Apr 10, 2014

Brands are built over time but can be destroyed in an instant. This is why is it critically important to...

The Hot Button

Mary Ellen Sokalski, MAS
Even Retirees Are Doing It
Apr 9, 2014

Even older clients who grew up with the "one-size-fits-all" adult T-shirt as their world are choosing to buy FASHION TEES....

Not So Technically Speaking

Dale Denham
Go Mobile or Go Home
Apr 8, 2014

I am, without a doubt, the most mobile CIO in the USA. Name one other CIO that is so committed...

Million Dollar Mindset with Greg Muzzillo

Greg Muzzillo
"Free Crab Tomorrow"
Apr 7, 2014

Joe's Crab Shack offers free crab tomorrow. That's because it's never tomorrow. All we have is today. I've talked to...

Compliance Chat

Jeff Jacobs
Promotional Products: When Swag Goes Wrong
Apr 4, 2014

We all love swag. From T-shirts to stress balls, free stuff is fun except when it goes awry. Goldman Sachs...

Jeff's Rant

Jeff Solomon, MAS
Discover the Truth About Bad Companies!
Apr 3, 2014

Responding to a need in our industry, a group of savvy distributors and suppliers have come together to create a...

Quick Thoughts by Cliff Quicksell, MAS

Cliff Quicksell, MAS
6 Reasons Why Marketing Fails and How to Prevent It
Mar 31, 2014

When it comes to marketing, there are no guarantees. A great marketing idea that is poorly implemented or incorrectly presented...

Be Dazzled

Elise Hacking Carr
Go Green or Go Home
Mar 26, 2014

Earth Day is right around the corner. Need ideas for upcoming promotions? Here are three products that scream "I <3...

Be Bold, Be Different, Be Memorable

Rick Greene, MAS
5 Ways to Use LinkedIn to Land New Business
Feb 26, 2014

LinkedIn is a happening place. It is the unsung hero of social platforms and it can indeed be used to...

Mike's Blog

Michael Cornnell
Ads on NBA Jerseys: An Inevitability?
Feb 24, 2014

The NBA may be stating that they're no closer to on-uniform ads than they were in 2011, but that doesn't...


Kyle Richardson
New Year, New Site, New Magazine
Jan 31, 2014

This week, we announced the redesign of our home page and magazine. Let us know what you think about the...

Big Picture Promo

Matt Kaspari, CAS
Meeting Clients Where They Are
Oct 24, 2013

Promotional marketing is at its best when it empowers a client’s brand, meets his or her objectives and fits within...

My Two Cents

Rick Brenner
For Promotional Product Sales, Protect Your Client's Brand
Jun 3, 2013

Whether you are selling to a global brand like Nike or to your local YMCA, no single asset is more...

Friday Sales-thought of the Week!

Dale Limes, MAS
Reverse Engineer Your Sales Success
Mar 18, 2013

Steven Covey reminds us that when setting goals ... "Start with the end in mind." That is to visualize the...

Editor's Notes

Nichole Stella
The Perfect Match
Mar 5, 2013

The Super Bowl has also become the Ad Bowl, where brands duke it out to see who has the funniest,...

Creating More Purposeful Sales Conversations

Lisa Leitch, CSP, MAS
Under 100 Days to Achieve 2011 Goals
Oct 20, 2011

It's hard to believe, but there are fewer than 100 days left to achieve 2011 goals! Are you on track...

10 Rules of Sales Etiquette


Life has changed a great deal in the 30 years I've been in sales. Electronic barriers, such as voice mail and caller ID, give customers the chance to hide and ignore calls. Overall, some would say people are more rude than ever. I would only say that there is a definite loss of respect in a great deal of relationships, both business and personal. But as my 87-year-old mother would say, you can only manage you. So, to help you to be the best sales person you can be, I offer up the 10 Rules of Sales Etiquette, in no particular order (except for the last one):

1. Never leave an angry voice mail—Keep your frustration in check when on the phone. The rule is that you will not hear back from someone. The exception is that you do. Regardless of whether you are pursuing a client or a prospect, be prepared for the long haul and remember that you can always get angry later. For now, remain calm, citizens.

2. Never put anything in writing that you wouldn't want the client to see—This one is even more important that the first rule. Let's say you write "nit-picky client" on a note to the prepress department. What if that note gets attached to the file and even the proof? Your customer would be justifiably irate if he/she saw it. Even when you are adding comments to your CRM system, show some class.

3. Be appreciative of in-house employees—I remember visiting AusTex Printing in Texas many years ago. The president, Jack somethingorother, gave me the obligatory plant tour. Along the way, he bellowed out every employee's name, jumping between English and Spanish. People positively lit up when he walked by. Jack was clearly a guy who shared compliments for a job well done and genuinely cared for everyone in the plant. The next time a pressman stays late to finish a job, send a note of thanks. Appreciation doesn't cost a nickel and it is simply the right thing to do.

4. Respect the client's time—If your appointment is at 10 a.m., be on time. If you are going to be late, call. If the job is scheduled to ship on Wednesday, see that it does. If your appointment is more than a week away, call to confirm. On a first sales call, confirm the amount of time the client has to spend with you. In your follow up, thank him/her for taking the time out of their busy day. Failure to follow this rule can (and quite frankly, does) tell the customer, "I don't care." Everything you do as a sales rep reflects upon your company. You can kill a relationship quickly simply by missing a deadline or waltzing in a few minutes late. Yeah, it's that important.

5. Communicate with your boss—You have another internal relationship to manage. If you are hitting your quota each month, go ahead and skip this rule. If not, you need to make certain that your boss knows everything you are doing. How many appointments do you have this week? How much business are you quoting? Any Big Fish on the hook? Assume that your boss is sitting at his/her desk right now asking one question about you: "Is my rep doing the job?" Answer that question. Weekly at minimum.

6. Be supportive of your fellow sales rep—Sales is a lonely job. Life is easy when you have a book of business and orders are rolling in, but that doesn't mean you couldn't use a compliment. Conversely, when times are tough the phone isn't ringing, be a good friend and offer some encouragement. What goes around, comes around.

7. Mentor a newbie—Do you remember when you broke into sales? Can you recall the self-doubt and sleepless nights? The fear, the anxiety, the angst? The overwhelming majority of sales people fail. Make it a habit to swing by the newbie's desk and offer some support and a few suggestions. "Let me know if you need anything" is not enough. Be a cheerleader. Trust me on this one: There is nothing more personally rewarding than getting a phone call or email from someone whom you've mentored in the past and is now successful.

8. Thank a client for the order—"I appreciate the confidence you've placed in me." "I will take good care of your business." "Thank you for affording me the opportunity to be of service." There. That wasn't so tough, was it? Every order and every client is precious. Never assume they know it. Tell them.

9. Don't prospect from the cell phone—Let me be clear (pun intended): When you call on a prospect, do so from a good connection with minimal background noise. If you call someone from your car, you might as well start off your pitch by shouting, "Hi, this is Bill. You're not important enough for me to call from a land line or a quiet place...."

10. Leave your job at the office—Do me a favor. Google the phrase, "End of the day." There was a time before email and cell phones that the sales day ended, business was over, and your personal life began. The weekend was yours to share with your family. You'd watch your child's game without talking on the phone from the sideline. Sales etiquette includes a separation of business and personal. Be present to your family. How do you wish to be remembered by your kids? Go be that person.

I had a professor at the University of Alabama named John Bickley. Dr. B taught his male students manners and insisted that we stand when a woman approached the table at the dinner parties he'd throw. To this day, I hear his ghost whisper to me and keep me in line.

Good personal etiquette is rare, but it does not go unnoticed. The same can be said for good sales etiquette. The right kind of woman will appreciate being honored by a man who stands when she enters the room. The right kind of customer will reward a courteous sales rep with business and loyalty.

You can only manage you. My mom might be 87 but she is still active. Don't make me send her after you. Show some sales etiquette.

Bill's Sales Challenge begins on the first Wednesday of every month. Need sales? Go to for more information or email Bill at


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