How the Successful Reps Succeed

By Bill Farquharson
In August 18, 2014

How the Successful Reps Succeed

The question was, What are the successful students doing to succeed? The guy asking the question was the father of an incoming student to the University of Massachusetts/Amherst. The student was Emma Louise Farquharson and the father was, well, me! The event was Parent Orientation, an event that teaches parents where their kids and money go and then quickly say goodbye to both.

In Professor Deschamps’ answers, I heard not only what college students needed to know, but also what sales managers need to look for in their reps. See if you agree…

“They ask for help.” Professor Deschamps starting giving this answer even before I was finished with my question. She said successful students make connections with their professors and advisors and keep in touch regularly. I found it fascinating that this was the first thing out of her mouth. Sales Manager’s takeaway: Make yourself available.

“They communicate.” Her observation was that when things don’t go right, the successful student steps up and speaks with or emails his/her professor to let them know instead of making excuses. In addition, she said, the successful are the ones who participate in class discussion. Sales Manager’s takeaway: Watch out for the new reps who suddenly get quiet or are nowhere to be found.

“They know their competencies.” Again, fascinating! The successful students are honest with themselves about what they do well and where they need help. Sales Manager’s takeaway: Ask, “What do you think you need to do better?”

“They learn to negotiate.” We all think of negotiation as bargaining and begging. Professor Deschamps’ viewpoint was that learning how to work with others to find a win-win is a critical skill. Sales Manager’s takeaway: How well do they play with other reps in the company?

“They read.” I have to admit, this was my favorite. She talked a lot about how students will use text-talk in their college essays. The audience laughed. She continued, “It’s the well-read who understand how to use words to get a point across.” Sales Manager’s takeaway: Give your reps a constant flow of suggested reading material, such as How to Win Friends and Influence People, The Four Agreements, Blink, etc.

One last thing about her comments. Professor Deschamps said she knows a student is in trouble when his or her answer to the question, “How are things going for you in my class?” is “Fine.” That, she said, is a red flag. If they say anything other than “Fine,” take them at face value. But if that is all they say, there is a problem and it needs to be investigated.

Class dismissed.

Check out Bill’s Sales Resources page on the NAPL website. Call him at 781-934-7036 or email 

Bill Farquharson

Epicomm Vice President Bill Farquharson previously served as President of Aspire For, a sales training and consulting firm in Duxbury, MA, and is a 30+ year sales veteran in the print and form industries. He has trained thousands of print sales representative, sales managers, and “selling owners” with a highly successful, no-nonsense “old school” approach. His unique training programs—The Sales Challenge, The Mobile Sales Club, and Tuesday eWorkshops—have become an industry standard for driving new business. Bill has trained and coached sales people from Xerox, Fuji Xerox, HP Indigo, Heidelberg, EFI, Konica-Minolta, and others. An active columnist and blogger for Printing Impressions magazine,, he also shares two weekly electronic eblasts each week with thousands worldwide: Monday Video Sales Tip and Friday Short Attention Span Webinars. Bill received a B.A. degree in Marketing from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst and worked in sales at UARCO Business Forms, Advanced Form Systems, and Print Tec Network, prior to founding his own firm.

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