20-20 Hindsight Sales
The account was history. That much he was sure of. It took two years to build credibility and a year to win the business. That was followed by two more years that he milked the cash cow he had created. During that last year, however, the rep noticed and ignored sure signs that he was in trouble, and one day he woke up and the business was lost. Three hundred and fifty thousand dollars of business gone with the wind, and frankly, Scarlett, he could have built a dam to protect or postpone the loss.
Time has now passed since the account went elsewhere, and like the girl that got away, he wistfully reminisces and remembers her fondly. Oh, the rack of printed matter and promotional material. Those firm financial assets. It really had legs, this one. All gone.
The only thing left is a series of coulda, woulda, and shoulda statements that perhaps we all can learn from so that we are not where this rep is today: driving a domestic car, wearing last year's styles, and telling stories about this plum account he once had.
Coulda—"You know, I coulda done more to shore up the business. Every time I did something right—like rush a job in or hand-deliver an order—I coulda sent an email out to my key contact, thanking her for 'The opportunity to demonstrate the service that all printers promise.' I coulda CC'ed her boss and his boss and everyone with a pulse so that they all knew what a good vendor I am. Was. Every opportunity to do so is like making a deposit in the Bank of Goodwill. Without a positive balance, I am only as good as the last job I shipped in."
Woulda—"Naturally, had I known the business would evaporate, I woulda done more the instant I suspected something... and I did suspect something. They hired a new guy and suddenly new names started to appear on the Visitor's Log. If I knew this guy had his own printers, I woulda made contact with him or had my in-house champions drop by to fill him in on my history; I woulda sat and asked him what his needs were; I woulda paid him more attention."
Bill Farquharson is a sales trainer for the graphic arts. Email him at Bill@AspireFor.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 BillFarquharson.com.