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The Wolf of Wall Street in the Real Print World.  Part 1

Sell me this penSell me this pen

Part II can be read here complete with videos.

If you have ever interviewed for a job as either the interviewer or the interviewee, you may have come across this statement. You can also see it in the film “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

Assume you are the managing director or sales manager of your company and you want to test the sales ability of your sales people at the next meeting. Take a pen from your pocket and ask one of them to sell it to you. I would be surprised if any of them will be able to sell it to you. If one can’t do it, move to the next and the next. Move fast and they have to think fast.

They may blabber on about the fact that it’s a shiny pen with a sleek finish that will feel comfortable in your hand and can write upside down in outer space. The new sales people will tell you about its features and what they like about it. The more established ones will even tell you about its benefits. The clicker closes the pen which means that it doesn’t ruin your shirt when it’s in your pocket. It’s a fine ball point that never clogs up which means that your writing is always neat and smooth.

The REAL sales people do none of that. They establish that you have a need for a pen, the type of pen you want, when you want it, how many and so on. They start with a question. You answer the question. You are immediately on the back foot and they are in charge of the conversation. They have to keep it that way. The need is established and now they have to close the sale.

Sell me this penSell me this penIn the film, Jordon Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is at a table with some recruits for his penny stocks operation. He takes a pen from his pocket and asks one of them, who says he can sell anything, to sell him the pen. He refuses. Jordon gives it to ‘his boy’ and asks the same question. He takes the pen and asks Jordon to write his name on a piece of paper. Since he has no pen, because he gave it to his boy, he can’t. Sale made.

What are you selling? Paper, printing, machinery, ink, consumables or what. You have to establish a need for your paper. Not the fact that its 120 gsm gloss SRA3 that never clogs a machine.

The good sales person will research their customer before they meet them. They will already have established what machinery they have, their customers and so on. When they meet them, they will be like a barrister in court. Only ask questions that they already know the answers to. Barristers don’t like surprises and neither should your sales people. They have to ask questions. The purpose of this is to get everyone on the same wavelength.

Qualifying - Establish PainQualifying - Establish PainDuring this process, they will establish ‘pain’. This is their need for your paper. The fact that other suppliers take too long to deliver, are too expensive, don’t have exactly what they want, have poor invoicing, etc. This process is called ‘qualifying’. The real starting point of any sales pitch is the act of getting to know about your customer. It’s all about asking questions, looking for insights into what the customer is looking for.

If your company can ‘partner’ with its customers, then that’s all the better. Now I don’t mean that you are partners in their business or take ownership. I mean that you can adopt their successes. The more successful they are as a result of your input, they more successful you will become too. You have to tailor your approach to suit your customer’s needs. If you don’t, you can have as many features and benefits in the world and it won’t make a blind bit of difference.

In the film, Jordon’s boy says that it’s about supply and demand, but that’s not exactly correct.

Part II can be read here complete with videos.

By Bob Tallent

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