You’re looking well, have you lost weight?


We’re all selling something, some of us without really realising it. Some have made a living out of it, myself included. I was employed, later in life ( I’m quite late now ) to sell print. I loved it and I made a lot of friends and the occasional enemy. Having been a professional cartoonist for most of my ‘so-called’ adult life, it was strange to enter a world where things were serious. Unlike the very best salespeople I took with me the idea that I only wanted to work for people I liked. Which in fairness was most people.There were one or two things that really did get up my nose, the people who were interupted by their mobiles and took the calls saying that they would only be a few minutes while they “sorted the printers out” ( as if we were a minor problemn with the drains ).

The young couple who came in to discuss thier wedding invite and ended up having a row in reception was not a great experience, they were not the perfect match. The chap who wanted to change his small company logo from a charming little illustrated logo to a nonsensical back of the envelope ‘symbol’ was one time I did lose control of my supressed opinion and after a tiring day just said to him, very loudly. ” WHAT? YOU WANT TO CHANGE THAT TO THAT?  YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!” It was not my place to voice an opinion, and a quiet word by him to head office made sure we did not have to deal with each other again. We were lucky not to lose the account.

I developed a subtle language of my own when dealing with opinions about work we were to print. If I thought it was good I’d say so, if it was less than good I’d say it was interesting. If it was crap I’d say it was really interesting. If it was absolute crap, I’d simply mutter ” very curious”or “fascinating”. It meant I kept my self respect without losing paying customers.

And then there are colours. I’m apparently red green colour blind. That does not mean I cannot see red and green, but subtle versions of the colours can be tricky. I’ll see a dark green as black and if then told that it is a very dark shade of green will see it as such. It’s not really got in the way of either of my ‘so-called’ careers. Customers coming to the printers could be very particular about colour and some were positively evangelical about it. The phrase: ” It looks nothing like the colour on my screen” became a familiar refrain no matter how many times we told them that screen colours and print colours were just not the same.

The best bit of sales is getting it right. That may sound like one of those dreadful self help books that seem to do so well the days, but in this particular case it’s right. Getting it right is seeing the customer happy with the result. And if I’m to pass on a few of my hints when selling it is to be interested in the customer, say how well they are looking and ask them if they have lost weight. Flattery will get you everywhere.


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