How to Sell with No Paper

I got a phone call a couple of weeks ago. A printer who calls me every couple of years had a question and needed an answer: “Bill, how I make any sales calls if I can’t get paper?”

Couldn’t I answer an easier question like, “What’s the purpose of life?” or “How do I talk with my teenager?” or even, “Who let the dogs out?”

I answered the question the best I could, spewing the usual, “Stick to the fundamentals” message I truly believe in, but it wasn’t until recently while I was on a coaching call that a better answer came to me, one that I will share with you here:

Get into creative conversations.

I think the best use of your time, given the supply chain issues, is to try and get into some “creative conversations.” That is, educate prospects on what is possible using print. Done correctly, this approach will unleash the creative in them. They will actually do your selling for you.

Go talk to people about your digital/inkjet/variable data capabilities and what it enables them to do. Tell stories. Plant some seeds. It’s been my experience after years of talking about digital/inkjet printing that if you are anecdotal in your approach, people will internalize and personalize the material and then weeks later call you with an idea and ask, “Can you do this?”


They will have taken the education you gave them and applied it to their world. They’ve married your solution with their problem.

“But, Bill, I still don’t have paper to print it on.”

Here’s the thing: The sales cycle for these sales calls takes months. It’s not like you are going to show up, make a sales pitch, and leave with a PO. They need time to sell the idea internally, think it through, maybe even do some test runs.

So, while you are waiting for your literal ship to come in, get out there and plant some seeds! Get into some creative conversations.

Or, if you’d rather, you can go scan the horizon to see if your paper is arriving any time soon. I hear you meet some very interesting people down at the docks.


Want more? Bill Farquharson’s Sales Vault is full of live workshops and peer group sales challenge discussions. Affiliate members pay a discounted rate. Go to or call Bill at 781-934-7036.

Leave a Comment

About APS22

Americas Print Show is an exciting three-day industry event focused on showcasing the latest technologies, building connections, and growth in the print and graphics community.

Connect with us

Recent Posts

Contact us!