What’s the Problem?

I received an email containing an interesting question from an old colleague: I have a client who wants to know the industry average for quotes won. He is presently winning about 40% of their quotes and they wanted to know how that compares with others.

Honestly, I have no idea.

If I had to guess, I would estimate it to be about 10%. But the question got me thinking… What could be done to increase the chances? That’s a better question and one I have a chance of answering.

I am a big fan of controlling what I can control. In this situation, you can’t control what your competitors do or the purchasing habits of the clients. What is in your control is to learn the story behind the printed piece.

One thought is to push back a bit on the salespeople who are bringing these bid opportunities in the door by insisting that they answer one question: What’s the problem?

That is, what problem does the client have that’s solved by this printed piece? What are they trying to do? What are they hoping to accomplish? In other words, what’s the story behind the printed piece?

No answer, no quote.

Recently, my brother told me a story of a failed sales rep who was let go at the company he works for. On his way out the door, he said, “I have brought this company $52 million worth of quotes. It’s not my fault that our prices are too high.”

He’s right, of course. He does not set the pricing and therefore he has no control over the outcome. That’s not his fault. His fault comes in seeking out pricing situations instead of putting in the work to learn more about the client and focus on their business needs and how he can help solve them. So long as he continues to seek out situations where price is King, he can hide behind that excuse and consider himself a victim, carrying this belief and selling style right into his next job. And the one that comes after that after he is fired.

The sales motto from my first employer says it all, even after all these years. You can continue to seek out bidding opportunities and hope for a better than 90% failure rate or you can learn the story behind the quote and come up with a better solution.

In other words: Solve the Problem, Earn the Order.


Bill Farquharson will bring his wit and wisdom to America’s Print Show in August. For more from Bill or to make contact, go to SalesVault.pro or call 781-934-7036.

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