One BIG Take Away from the Top 100 Summit


Geesh, I grabbed and extra day to stay in San Diego after the Print Audit Top 100 Summit, come home on Sunday to find that Larry Levine, and Darrell Amy already wrote about the happenings of the event (dagnabit).  Can't wait until next year's event!

During one of the open discussions, that's where our moderator threw out questions to the attendees, the first question posed was, "what is your biggest challenge to your business?" 

First Business Challenge

Now, I was thinking along the lines of competition, eroding margins, declining pages, but the first challenge that a dealer principal put out there was, "finding qualified sales people".  As I looked around the room, I saw quite a few other principals give the old head nod that they too were having the same challenge. 

We could interpret "qualified sales people" as those that are successful earners, or successful prospectors and of course those that can earn and prospect, right?

In 36 years, I can probably count the guys and gals on two hands that have stayed in the industry for more than 5 years. Our industry just seems to churn through sales people at an alarming rate. 

Why is that?

Is there something wrong with our process of hiring sales people? I'm no HR person, but I do know of many companies that use the Caliper test to higher sales people. From what I've seen, the test seems to be worthless when you only keep one out of twenty hires for more than a few years!

Pro Scouting

2016-09-14_22-59-32My son Nick starting playing baseball at the age of 5.  For some reason he took a liking to the game and many summer nights would find him and I having throwing and catching games in the yard. That repetition and muscle memory from our catching games allowed him to develop into a decent ball player.  As he got older he was good enough in High School to make the Varsity Team  as a Freshman (they put him on late in the season), and he got his first start as a Freshman. He did pretty well.

At the end of High School, a few Pro Scouts had been in touch, but nothing materialized.  Nick ended up getting almost a full scholarship to pitch at a Division 2 College, and then excelled at that level also.

I had the opportunity to talk with a few Pro Scouts, and with Nick at 6'1" and topping out at 91 mph, being a right handed pitcher, there 500 other guys just like him.  Here's what the Pro Scout told me, "we can't teach 95 mph, we can teach mechanics, we can teach how to locate, we can teach grips and pitches, thus we'll take the guy who can hit 95 and can't pitch, because we can teach him the rest."

Wow, being an avid baseball fan and a coach for more than 20 years, I agree that you can't teach 95mph.

How Were You Hired?

Back in 1981, there was no tests to get hired.  In 1981, I was hired as a technician, after 90 days I was brought in for a review with the dealer principal. That review did not go well, I was told I was excellent at taking the copiers apart, however not so good at putting them back together (ouch). I was being laid-off! 

Before I left, the dealer principal reached into his pocket and pull out a couple of $100 bills. He then asked, "What would rather do to earn that $200, would you like to work another week, or would you like to try to talk me out of it?"

Ok, I thought, I love money and I especially love EASY money. I stated that I would try to talk him out of it. After 10 minutes of trying and failing, I was not able to talk him out of the $200 bucks.  But, I was offered a job to sell copiers!


Just as you can't teach someone to throw 95 mph, you either have 95 mph or you don't have it.

The same is true with Desire, you can't teach desire!  Desire is innate, you either have it or you don't have.  My innate desire is to make money, always has been and always will be. From having that lemonade stand on the corner, to the paper route, I had the innate desire to make money at an early age.

Desire Test

Is there a test you can take to find if a potential applicant has that innate desire to make money? 

There's only one that I know of, and that's one that reserved for the dealer principal.  Once you've identified an applicant as worthy, then give them the $500 desire test, the same way it was given to me.

Put the $500 bucks on the table and ask the applicant how they would like to make that $500, either by working a week or trying to talk you out it.  If they can give you a couple of minutes of trying to talk you of the $500 bucks, don't give them the $500 , but offer them a job in sales, because those are the applicants you want for sales.

For those that want to work a week, give them the boot!

-=Good Selling=-


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This is a tough business and finding young blood who are willing to gut it out is HARD. I've been in this industry for 5 years now and every year the thought of quitting enters my mind. The reasoning to stick around has to be more than just about money. For me, lasting 10 years in copier sales is the equivalent to getting my "black belt" in "the art of selling." I already have the confidence to feel like I can do anything -- real estate, start my own business, etc... I've gone through the hardships. Imagine what another 10 will do? The pain and sacrifice is worth it in the end. Good luck explaining that to other millennials though!!

Art, Great article
I always used the purpose question when hiring.
Ask the candidate what their purpose is, what would drive their core being to do what every it takes as long as it's legal, moral, and ethical to succeed in the career of sales? When people have the conviction for their purpose they will have the strength needed when the world of circumstances attempts to stop their momentum.