Does this Make me a Bum?
Day 2, Bill Ruesch recession recovery diary
When I was a young salesman I was taught that “prospecting is like shaving–if you don’t do it everyday you’re a bum.” This quote is attributed to Jack Schwartz, the telephone sales guru.
In the pre-recession, business came to me through referrals. Sometimes I had to send customers elsewhere because I couldn’t handle them all. As a result, I haven’t made prospecting calls in twenty years! I think I’ve forgotten how to prospect, but it is obvious to me now that I’ve got to go out and beat the bushes for new customers. I was never very good at going door-to-door with business cards, calendars, and note pads. That seems to be a method best employed by quick print sales reps.
You may have noticed that things have changed in the last twenty years. I feel a little like Rip Van Winkle. It wasn’t that I was asleep, I just didn’t have to deal with some of the harsher realities because my reputation carried me. With the onslaught of the recession everyone I know in the printing business has had a very difficult time.
Now the question is, how do I prospect in a way that boosts my reputation rather than damaging it? After all, I would like to come out of this stronger and not weaker than before. Would mixing it up in the fray of hungry printing sales reps put me in the category of a me-too supplier? In other words, how do I re-establish myself as more of a consultant instead of just another commissioned salesperson? Not that I hold anything against sales reps per se it is just that consultants earn more money. I got used to a six figure income and would like to have it back again.