A Cautionary Sales Tale

By Bill Farquharson, Sales Vault. Read Bill’s tip below or watch Bill here.

Good morning!

A cautionary tale for you. Hopefully, you’ll read this early enough in the day that you are not tricked into giving money away.

It was March of 1992, and I was frantically helping a client convert from a traditional print method for their software manuals (whereby they would print up 15,000 at a time) to digital and only produce a few 100 as needed.

Working with their product manager and technical writers, we took production down to the last day of the month, March 31st, but created a beautiful product everyone was pleased with.

In order to get the job in the door, I needed a purchase order. But, in order to get a purchase order, I needed a price and since we didn’t know the final page count until the morning of the 31st, I could not accurately quote the job.

The buyer was a woman named Joanne Mills. She gave me a blank PO but warned me, “Bill, do not take advantage of the situation.” The job shipped. The job was received. All good. I faxed over pricing to Joanne and called it a day.

The next morning, I got a call from Joanne: “We’re not paying that price. You need to do better.”

To this day, I can tell you exactly where I was when the heart-stopping call came in.

I could certainly understand her hesitation. They were paying under $5 per manual previously and now the cost was more like $17. After I recovered from the shock of her message, I started reeducating her on the difference between traditional print and digital print. I talked about the advantages of printing less: more frequent updates, less waste, etc.

I talked for a few minutes and then paused to think about what else I could say to justify this price. Suddenly…

Joanne giggled.

Before I could say anything, she said, “Happy April Fool’s Day!”

As I picked my jaw up off the floor, she told me I was the 4th sales Rep she called that day. It started as a joke, but the first Rep immediately caved on price. So, she decided to keep calling salespeople until someone stood their ground.

That would be me.

This will happen to you more than just once a year on April first. Clients will push back, and you will need to stand your ground. Be ready to justify your price or be ready to explain why you are giving concessions so readily.


You will NEVER find information like this in a book or a seminar. The Sales Vault has selling tips and ideas from Bill Farquharson’s 40+ years in the industry and a community of others doing the same thing you are. Find more information at or call Bill at 781-934-7036.



Leave a Reply