How to Land the Big Fish

By Bill Farquharson
In June 14, 2014

My daughter Madeline is the luckiest person I have ever met in my life. We are a board game-playing family and she is the undisputed queen of any games that involve luck. There is no question in my mind that she would excel at nailing a large account. Here’s how it would happen (assuming she goes into print sales, of course)…

One day, she’d be out driving and would get into a minor car accident. Exchanging papers with the offending party while waiting for the police to come, they’d get talking and eventually the question, “So, what do you do for work, Madi?” would come up. After Madeline identified herself as a print sales rep, the other driver would chuckle and say, “I think we should definitely talk, then, because I am the Buyer for Humungous Corporation nearby!” And thus would be the start of a beautiful relationship.

I have been a sales coach in the print industry since the day the Earth cooled. Every time—and I mean, every single time—I ask a rep how he/she got into the large account they now service, the answer has a similar path to Madeline’s. Was it skill? No. Did they win the bid and therefore nail the contract? No. Instead, it turns out the Buyer’s daughter plays softball on the same team as the rep’s cousins’ paperboy’s daughter-in-law and they met on the field.

In short, it’s 9 parts luck and 1 part networking. I know. I know. It’s not fair and I cannot explain it, but it’s true. Every time I ask a rep, it always results in some bizarre story that turned out well for the lucky party.

What’s the takeaway here? Well, Madi is only 18, so you cannot hire her. Yet. You will have to make your own luck (or cause your own fender-benders).

Your other option is to start spreading the news and find out who knows who amongst your base of friends knows someone who knows someone who holds a position of authority of a Big Fish you’d badly like to land. You never know….

Oh, and for the record, Madeline will finish up at NYU Shanghai in May of 2017. If you’d like her resumé, please let me know.

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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