sales

Five Steps When Selling to Executives

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Getting in front of senior executives can quickly change the future of a salesperson or a printing company. There is no better way to quickly develop and generate large sales than to gain access to senior decision makers.

Great printing salespeople can impact decisions about strategy, budgets and marketing that are driven by senior levels of management. Many of these decisions cannot be found in the purchasing or department manager levels.

Executives want to talk to salespeople who can help them address their “big” problems and opportunities. For salespeople, that requires confidence, a thorough knowledge of graphic and digital communications and an ability to bring creative ideas to their customers.

There are two great outcomes of an executive sales call: one is to gain agreement that what you have to offer is valuable to the executive’s organization; and two, the executive opens the organization to further sales meetings.

Five Steps for a Great Executive Meeting

1. Preparation

It may take hours of preparation to gain just one great meeting with the right executive. It is worth it. The first challenge is to identify those CEOs, Presidents, Division Presidents and Executive VPs in each targeted account. Having detailed information about their company, its objectives, its campaigns and programs will increase the likelihood of success in securing the first meeting.

With gatekeepers blocking the way, and the likelihood that the target will not pick up the phone, a brief and impactful talk track to generate interest must be prepared in advance. In a few cases, the executive may actually pick up the phone. A short crisp message and a simple request for a meeting is the best strategy.

2. A Great Entrance

A great first impression is vital. Though rapport building is important, keep the superficial banter to a minimum. Executives are looking for information and expertise. A professional appearance and demeanor will help. Briefly state your purpose, a brief overview of why you are there and what you expect from the meeting. Make sure you share amount of time you will need for this meeting.

Then just ask, “Is this OK with you?”

A confident start will establish a solid foundation for the rest of the sales call.

3. Share the Dream

Once the stage is set, it is time to share what you have discovered about the customer and their problems. You can do this by using facts and research on issues being faced by similar organizations and sharing them in a tailored way.

For instance, as part of your story to a hospital executive looking to expand their services, you could say, “According to the Direct Marketing Association, “83% of people find direct mail easier to absorb than email. We have found that our hospital clients who integrate direct mail along with their digital communications have increased their ability to sell additional and new services to their patients.”

Be prepared to share your case studies on how specifically you have helped similar organizations.

By sharing facts about how your company and printing has helped other companies improve their performance, potential customers will want to hear more. 

Then follow up with questions like this:

“How are you currently marketing your new clinical services?”

“What is the strategy of the hospital to attract new patients?”

“How will you address the new trends in the market?”

By asking probing questions, listening and letting the customer talk about the company and their priorities, the executive will become part of the sales call. Creating an optimistic vision for the customer will allow the discussion to continue.

4. Sync Up and Discuss Linkages

Now is the time when the salesperson connects what has been discussed by the customer to how your company can help.

By tailoring and summarizing the key points of the customer’s problems, you will be able to link what you sell to what the customer needs. A good exchange of ideas and agreements on how the salesperson can help the customer will lead to a close.

5. Close for an Open Door

The final step is to gain agreement on what needs to be done next. It is rarely the time to close for an order. It is an opportunity to gain the executive’s endorsement for access to key influencers and stakeholders who are involved in the decision chain. The ideal goal is an open door to developing a well-qualified recommendation to visit other departments and staff.

Since it often takes much time to gain a good meeting, preparation and execution is paramount. There may never be another chance to get a second meeting.

There has never been a time in recent history where it has been as important for printing salespeople to raise their level of contact within their customer organization. There is so much change in how printing can impact a customer’s top and bottom line that executives will welcome a meeting with a knowledgeable salesperson.

Joe Rickard is the founder of Intellective Solutions. Intellective Solutions (www.intellectives.com) is a consulting, research and training company. They work with printing and technology organizations to improve their sales, marketing and operational effectiveness.  Joe can be reached at 845 753 6156.

Imagining the Printing Salesperson Of The Future

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Technology is continuing to drive the transformation of communications. We are seeing changes in what and how buyers are purchasing their communications needs.  Increasing use of targeted mailings, highly accurate tracking platforms and print-to-anywhere solutions are also transforming the role of direct salespeople.

Transformation versus Change

In looking to the future of selling, the words “change” and “transform” are often used loosely. The key difference is when we talk about change there is always an option to going back to the way things used to be. During a transformation, there is no going back. Many of today’s printing companies and salespeople are in the “transformation” stage.

It’s encouraging that even with all the competition from other media, there is a large appetite for print. Leading economists, who report on our industry, tell us that the worst is behind us and print production and related services is on the road to recovery. Many printing companies are seeing improved sales and revenues. We have asked both successful direct salespeople and print providers how direct selling will look in the future.

Five Areas Where Printing Salespeople Will Transform

To succeed, salespeople must not throw their current skills and knowledge away. They will need to build new competencies to capture opportunities in a changing market. We have identified 5 key areas where the actions, skills and behaviors of successful direct salespeople will be transformed:

1.      Bring new light to problems

Customers can find a lot of what they need online. Great salespeople will bring new ideas and insights to a customer’s real problems. They will do this in a challenging and executive style that will instill confidence in the salesperson. Customers require business experts who can solve difficult problems.

2.      Provide technical expertise

Most great printing salespeople are experts in printing technology and processes. Now printing salespeople are being asked to be technical experts in many more areas outside of traditional printing. Knowledge of software, media integration and application development at the customer level is a necessity.

3.      Collaborate to develop tailored solutions

The role of business development and direct sales will continue to converge. Customers are looking for help in creating tailored and customized solutions to their problems and do not possess the expertise nor time to figure it out on their own. In some cases, salespeople will function as consultants, identifying and organizing the elements and partners required building a complex customer solution.

4.      Move beyond transactional selling skills

Customers are not responding to the endless probing questions and annoying pressure tactics of a traditional salesperson. Ongoing training that focuses on gaining the skills necessary to sell high value offerings effectively is becoming commonplace. Specifically, new approaches in developing targeted accounts, communicating, financial acumen, negotiating, project management, analyzing, proposing, presenting, and research skills will be required in the salesperson of the future.

5.      Drive customer service

This is an area facing the greatest transformation. Customers will accept nothing less than outstanding support and service. Printing will eventually take the lead among other industries in providing multichannel end to end customer service. What has been demonstrated by Amazon and Google will be the norm for printing companies that desire high growth and profits. The direct salesperson will position customer service as part of their value proposition.

The good news is more and more successful printing companies are beginning to adjust and transform their selling efforts. We are seeing an increasing number of outstanding web, ecommerce and social media sites used by printing companies. Larger organizations are investing outbound and inbound telemarketing efforts to support lead generation. For direct salespeople, more emphasis is being placed on retaining experienced and knowledgeable high performers who can manage large deals, maintain relationships and manage elongated order cycles.

Joe Rickard is the founder of Intellective Solutions. Intellective Solutions (www.intellectives.com) is a consulting and training company. They work with printing and technology organizations to improve their sales, marketing and operational effectiveness.  Joe can be reached at 845 753 6156. Follow him on Twitter @joerickardIS. This article was first published in the February edition of the Printing News

Three Great Sales Approaches

There is a consistent theme among printing salespeople that the market for print-related products and services is very tough. Even though some printing companies are increasing their sales, the overall economy is not growing fast enough to “lift all boats”. 

At Graph Expo 2016, chief economist Andrew Paparozzi at Epicomm shared the results of a survey where 71.1% of printing companies cited “our ability to increase sales” as their number one concern. Consequently, we are finding that many commercial printers with direct salespeople are reevaluating the skills, practices and sales management techniques that are required to compete in a low or no growth environment.  

Given all the challenges salespeople face, we have been asking successful owners, managers and salespeople what they are doing that helps them outperform their competition.

Three Actions that Work

1. Apply the Correct Sales Process

Great salespeople and their companies adjust to every customer situation. Customers are increasingly researching new products and services online, and much of their decision is already made before a salesperson is even engaged.

As a result, applying and aligning the correct sales process is mandatory in today’s print market. Customers are dictating how they want to be approached, and an increasing number are using a formal RFP process. Those customers who know exactly what they want and how much they are willing to pay require a much shorter sales engagement.

Tim Boucher, owner of BSquared, a New York City-based printing company, sums up his company’s approach to these types of print inquiries. He said, “Speed counts. You need to follow up and respond quickly. They only stop shopping price when you educate them.”

For more complex sales opportunities, an extended sales process is required that is aligned and tailored to each customer. There are no shortcuts, and these types of scenarios typically require a fairly large investment of a salesperson’s time. Some customers will require extensive business development resources and will often involve other members of the print provider’s staff for technical support.

2. Bring Something New and Unique

In the past, print salespeople could compete by simply understanding the functions and process of getting a print project completed. Having a general understanding of the print process will always be required; a growing trend is an increased focus on specialization of print products and services. More and more print providers are focusing on specific products, communication channels, applications, and markets.

The RAIN Group Center for Sales Research reports, “Today’s sales winners go beyond uncovering buyer needs and matching their products and services as solutions to buyer problems. They provide valuable ideas and insights during the sales process.” They have found that salespeople that exhibit this behavior are three times more likely to win versus competitors who don’t.

With this approach, successful printing salespeople will be more technically capable, able to leverage their company’s unique skill sets and will be able to consistently bring new ideas and insights. More and more customers who directly engage salespeople are not only expecting but demanding it.

3. Stay on the Offensive

Sir Isaac Newton provided great selling advice when he said, “a body in motion stays in motion, and a body at rest stays at rest." For salespeople, this means great opportunities will only be available if they are out there talking and meeting with customers. The changes that are occurring in the printing industry today are nothing short of amazing. There are also tremendous changes occurring in each of your customer’s businesses, and a successful salesperson can quickly align new print products or services to their customer’s new needs. But to do that, salespeople must be out there talking to their customers.

We still hear that too many printing salespeople are either in the office or in the production area managing print projects instead of selling. Many still rely on existing customers, request for quotes and old relationships to drive sales performance. Marketing communications and print technology is moving much too fast to stay at rest.

Here are a few suggestions to overcome inertia and generate more opportunities:

  • Set activity targets for contacting potential customers with new ideas each day. A minimum of five personal contacts a day is a good place to start.
  • Never miss an opportunity when engaging existing customers to discuss best practices and insights that will lead to new business.
  • Don’t just respond to quotes. Educate customers and get in front of them face to face.
  • Keep up with the technology and the changes that occur in a customer’s business. Failing to do so makes it impossible to share great ideas and insights with prospects.

There is no tougher challenge for a salesperson than to gain sales at the expense of a competitor in a slow growth market.  Compounding the problem is the influence of online and social media content that makes it difficult for salespeople to be the single provider of information to customers. Respond quickly to those customers who know exactly what they want and spend the time with customers who don’t, but show the potential of a long lasting and profitable relationship. Look to the future and adapt. No matter what changes occur, there will always be winners.

Joe Rickard is the founder of Intellective Solutions. Intellective Solutions (www.intellectives.com) is a consulting and training company. They work with printing and technology organizations to improve their sales, marketing and operational effectiveness.  Joe can be reached at 845 753 6156. Follow him on Twitter @joerickardIS. This article was published by Printing News in December 2016.

Focus on Specific Markets to Bring in More Business

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At some point, all salespeople and their companies must make a decision on where to go to develop new business.  Often a choice must be made between specializing in specific markets or not.  This is a tough decision for a salesperson if the print provider they work for has not specifically optimized their production, fulfillment, marketing and sales efforts to focus on a specific market. It is then up to the salesperson to take it upon themselves to identify the best target markets.

Get Better Results by Targeting

More and more salespeople and printing companies are trading in their “sales shotguns” and replacing them with “precision rifles”.  

History has told us that the sharper the focus and deeper the knowledge of a particular market the better the results.  Though some have resisted targeting specific markets, there is no question that targeting and specializing generates better results.

Most Small and Medium Printers Use a Shotgun Approach

Most printers and salespeople we know are generalists. They possess certain production equipment, and intend to sell as many types of generic products as possible at the lowest cost. If they can sell large sheet size brochures or on line finished booklets, their salespeople target any and all markets that may use these types of products. Unfortunately, this approach assumes the customer knows printing and how best to use it. Consequently, more and more customers are choosing other forms of media.

With a shotgun approach it is very difficult to know and meet each customer’s specific requirements. Many successful print providers, particularly large ones, have abandoned this approach and have organized around specific vertical or horizontal markets.

What is a Vertical Market?

A vertical market is a particular industry in which similar products or services are marketed using similar sales and marketing approaches. Examples of vertical markets are: colleges, hotels, retail, hospitals, wholesalers and government.  Targeting a vertical market is generally focused on providing printing and related services that are commonly used within a specific industry. Examples are providing cross media recruitment marketing programs for colleges, direct mail campaigns for retail operations or web to print programs for wholesalers.

The idea is for salespeople to become experts in specific industry niches and to anticipate their printing and related marketing needs. This concept can be applied to almost any market when selling printing solutions.

What is a Horizontal Market?

A horizontal market, by comparison, allows salespeople to sell the same products and services in more than one industry, and is therefore focused on a wider range of business segments. In a horizontal market, customers use print products in much the same way regardless of what industry they are in. Providing brochures and booklets to marketing departments is a typical example of horizontal marketing. Vista Print, Staples and FedEx sell print mostly to horizontal markets.

This is a very challenging approach for most commercial printers. There is plenty of competition and accompanying price pressure. A potential solution is the combination approach which allows salespeople to segment and target accounts by vertical and horizontal markets within a local geographical market. This can be a very good strategy for small and medium print providers.

What not to do.

The clearest path to failure is to try to develop a product that someone else has been successful with. Or even worse is buying a new press thinking that this will provide a competitive edge. At Graph Expo this year, we have met printers who are thinking that installing an ink jet press will solve their business problems. This may help in the short term. Only a carefully thought out targeted marketing and “go to market plan” will provide sustainable results.

The advantages of focusing on specific markets and accounts in a specific geographical area are:

  • Customers like to do business with salespeople who know their specific applications and business issues

  • Target marketing leverages the products and solutions that a print provider can provide

  • Focusing on sales and services to a specific market helps to  gain production efficiencies which leads to greater margins

  • Once engaged in a market, new products and solutions can be developed and expanded that are specifically tailored to a target market’s customer needs

  • Additional services such a data management, design, supply chain, and digital content can more easily be offered because of superior knowledge of the market

Here are some key steps to get started:

  1. Take a careful look at your production capabilities, equipment and workflow. What products and solutions best meet the needs of a specific market?

  2. Review key accounts and markets within a specific geography and determine what their common problems or opportunities are.

  3. Once the buying dynamics are discovered, look to tailor and customize the products that your company can produce to create effective business solutions for a specific vertical market.  We have a client that has launched a successful campaign to further penetrate the hospitality and restaurant market with personalized packaging solutions.

  4. Create a sales and marketing program that addresses specific print related and marketing products that a prospective customer requires.

A great way to beat competitors is by becoming a leader in a specific market. We are seeing more and more print providers develop sales, digital and eCommerce programs, distribution, advanced workflows and dedicated production to create competitive advantages in many niche markets in both business and consumer markets. As the New Year begins, this is a good time to take another look at what you can produce, who it can be sold to and if your salespeople know how to reach them.  

Joe Rickard is a training leader and consultant dedicated to the graphic communications industry. He and his company Intellective Solutions (www.intellectives.com)  works with printing and technology organizations to improve their sales, marketing and operational effectiveness. He can be reached at 845 753 6156. Follow him on Twitter @joerickardIS. This article was published in the Printing News in December, 2015

Great References Create a Selling Advantage

One of the most powerful selling tools is a customer reference. Customers like nothing better than networking and identifying successful solutions being offered to similar organizations. Putting a customer reference on a website, or providing references to existing prospects, is a smart thing to do.  Obtaining customer references to prospect and identify new opportunities should be a part of any sales plan.

It is time well spent developing customer references

Most printing companies are facing changing market conditions. Differentiation is difficult and price pressures are intense. Gaining opportunities to separate from the competition to build trust and credibility with their customers is a key to success. We define a good customer reference as an advocate who has a set of products and/or services that has solved a specific problem or generated a significant opportunity in a specific market. 

We are finding many print providers may have forgotten this proven marketing method to develop new sales opportunities. Research has shown that customer references help companies attract new customers and shorten sales cycles.

The best salesperson is a satisfied customer

Why would a prospect buy a high cost and high risk solution from a company that can’t produce a genuine customer reference? Sharing with potential prospects how a specific print-based offering has solved a problem that generated great results is a powerful selling tool. Not only will customers gain confidence in a particular solution, but salespeople will also build their own credibility and confidence with their prospects.

Customer references should be part of a company’s marketing strategy

Almost all salespeople agree that using customer references increases their chances of closing more business. The problem is that individual salespeople often guard their references. Then when there is a need for a reference everyone is scrambling. This usually does not end well.

What makes a great reference?

The value of a great reference can be substantial. For instance, a great reference would be an insurance client who is soliciting customers through direct mail. The problem is that they are getting a very low response rate. The print provider helps develop a direct mail piece that includes personalized content. The result is that the client gained a much higher response rate and subsequently gained 12% in sales revenue.

To capitalize on references, we recommend companies approach references in an organized way.

Set a guideline and target

You should look for clients that have had a business issue or opportunity which was solved by using a print solution that resulted in a great ROI.  The sales team should have a specific type of client they are targeting for a reference. This should include the size of an account, type and size of offering, the market, the problems solved or opportunities created. It is best to have a specific format for them to follow.

Ask them for a reference

Most satisfied customers are happy to provide a great reference. Sometimes customers will not have the time to provide a written reference. A good practice in these situations is to draft one for the customer and then get their approval. Occasionally larger clients do not want their successes publicized outside the company due to fear of competitors getting a good idea. We find getting a good reference is part of good selling. Great salespeople get great references.

Document each reference in a consistent format

We recommend a simple but well-branded three part approach: what was the problem or opportunity faced by the customer, what was the solution provided by the print provider and what were the results generated for the customer. Having some information about the client such as industry, type of services, location, size will make the reference that much more powerful.

Market your references

How a reference is presented and displayed makes a difference. The reference should be branded, designed and part of an overall marketing strategy. It should be created to potentially be used in case studies, websites, printed collaterals, social media, PR and sales presentations.

Integrate them into the sales process

Once the customer references are obtained and completed, then it is time to ensure that they are used within the sales process at the appropriate time. Don’t wait until a customer asks for a reference. Use these to develop new markets and prospects. They attract attention and interest of clients.

For some, it requires closing the first deal and gaining a reference that can open the door to a new market segment. For others, they already have great customers that just need to be asked. Printing is a relationship business built on trust.  Customer references have traditionally been an integral part of the selling process.

Using satisfied customers is essential to managing new opportunities and overcoming competition. Print providers selling large and complex programs, products and services are missing a big opportunity if they don’t use references from satisfied customers.

Joe Rickard is the founder of Intellective Solutions. Intellective Solutions (www.intellectives.com)  works with printing and technology organizations to improve their sales, marketing and operational effectiveness. He can be reached at 845 753 6156. Follow him on Twitter @joerickardIS. This article was published in Quick Printing Magazine and MyPrintResource.com

Getting Ahead of the New Way of Buying

The way print is bought has changed forever. In recent times, customers have gained much more control of the buying process for print. For salespeople, this fact is a serious challenge. Getting to potential customers early in the buying process has never been more important. 

How the Web has Changed Selling Print

The cause of this trend is simply that buyers are using the Web and networking with colleagues and peers to research print solutions. In many cases, customers are making up their minds on what they want before they even engage salespeople. The sad fact is that customers do not need salespeople as much anymore. Many customers do not feel they have enough time to speak to a parade of salespeople.

Anyone can find a wide variety of videos, blogs, print samples, print education, research and best practices immediately on the Web.  There is plenty of research that confirms that the majority of B2B buyers search on Google, LinkedIn, and other digital channels when planning to make a purchase. We are seeing many blind RFPs arrive at printing companies without any prior salesperson contact.

In the past, print salespeople controlled much of the information flow that customers needed early in the buying process. We have moved from a lack of information to an abundance of information. To complicate the problem, suppliers of other forms of media, such as digital marketing, do a better job positioning their solutions on the Web than print providers do.

What Does The Change In The Print Buying Behavior Mean for Salespeople?

If salespeople are not providing the information required for customers to make good decisions early in the sales process, it minimizes the opportunity for customers to hear about the new ideas and products. Consequently, salespeople must adapt.

Many customers have perceptions and even requirements firmly in place before they talk to a print salesperson

Dealing with customers who have already made much of their decision about what they want and want to pay creates a serious dilemma for the salesperson. It is very difficult to change specifications or make recommendations on a project or campaign when requirements are already set.

More people within accounts are involved in making decisions

The greater availability of information to more people within organizations has added to the decision process. In many organizations, there are no professional print buyers available to guide print decisions.  Younger customers are very comfortable using the Web and talking to more stakeholders to educate themselves without the aid of a salesperson.

There are less prospects within the order cycle

We have seen this trend working with many of our clients. The customers feel they are in control of the buying process.  There is less need for salespeople to create needs, qualify opportunities, bring new ideas or build new applications and solutions that would create more selling opportunities. Consequently, the number of total prospects has been reduced.

How Great Print Providers Are Responding

For commercial printing salespeople, there is good news. Printing sales is a relationship business. Since printing is a repeat business, customers are not just looking for one time programs and campaigns, but long term relationships.

Here are six recommendations based on what we are seeing to avoid the internet traps and bring added value to customer relationships.

1.       Get closer to your customers

Selling print is a marathon, not a sprint. Knowing and responding quickly to customer problems and opportunities consistently over time builds deeper relationships. The less they love you and know you, the more likely they will move on. Customers need and want trusted salespeople to help them solve complex problems.

2.       Get ahead of the Web

Relentlessly engaging leaders within your accounts with new ideas is paramount. New buyers and influencers are constantly changing in both small and large accounts. Therefore, getting in front of them before they go to the Web is a chance to provide valuable, tailored and customized information that they could not find anywhere else.

3.       Attack leads with a fury

Perhaps the most frustrating behavior of many print organizations is the length of time it takes to respond to a Web or social media inquiry. Customers’ expectations of response time for information requests have closed dramatically. Since buyers will often go to three or four sources on the Web for information, rapid response to a Web inquiry is a requirement to compete.

4.       Work to your market strength

Specializing in targeted markets and applications is a source of competitive advantage. Customers are drawn to print providers who can demonstrate a deeper understanding and success with a particular solution. It is not easy to find all the details of a complex and industry focused project or campaign on a Web site. Possessing a niche market is an advantage to direct sellers.

5.       Make each meeting a marketing event

We have said this before in previous articles. Never miss an opportunity to be a “smash hit” with every direct face-to-face meeting or phone call. Meetings are hard to come by these days. Being prepared with an exciting and engaging presentation is an important approach.

6.       Work your networks

If customers are gaining information through their professional networks before they talk to salespeople, then that is where salespeople need to be. Customers feel comfortable researching solutions with people they know and trust. If you are not networking, you are not selling. A good place to start networking is LinkedIn and Google+.

There is no question that customers are more in control in how they buy than ever before. With the availability of more channels of information, it is no wonder that customers are well along in their buying process before they even engage a printing salesperson. It is critical for salespeople to adapt and react to a changing shift in how customers gain information and ultimately make decisions.

Joe Rickard is a training leader and consultant dedicated to the graphic communications industry. He and his company Intellective Solutions (www.intellectives.com)  works with printing and technology organizations to improve their sales, marketing and operational effectiveness. He can be reached at 845 753 6156. Follow him on Twitter @joerickardIS. This article was published in Quick Printing Magazine and MyPrintResource.

Sales Managers Lead through Change

There is a very old saying in printing, “Good printers are not frequently found, good sales managers are less common; the combination of a good printer and good sales manager is rare indeed.”

Based on our experience working with more than 100 print providers, we have observed common threads where management has successfully modified or, in some cases, completely reengineered their sales management programs and sustained profitable sales growth.

Five Strategies to Improve Prospecting

Like anything else in business, it’s always good to take stock of what’s working and what is not. Sales prospecting is one of those areas that always needs attention. Prospecting is an activity required by salespeople to generate new leads. That means moving the most likely candidates for printing products or services from unaware suspects to hot and likely to buy prospects. Prospecting is definitely a vital skill to develop to be successful in selling.

Sales Strategies in a RFP World

Over the past few years, print buyers, agencies, and procurement offices have turned RFQs and RFPs into art forms. For them, the intent of well documented RFQs and RFPs is to bring structure to an often confusing and complicated process. For print providers, it can be a frustrating process.

Sell It Straight—Don't Tell and Manipulate

We have spent a great deal of time over the last few years observing printing salespeople—on live calls or within training workshops—attempting to sell customers on new ideas and new offerings.

We have found that many are still relying on outdated sales techniques. These include the regurgitating tired and canned spiels or the use of manipulative sales techniques. Since printing sales is based on a high value, trusted relationship, telling and manipulating is not a sustainable strategy.

Sales Growth Requires Great Service

Selling printing or any service is a relationship business. Since so much of producing printing products and services is customized, building trust and personal relationships are vital in maintaining top customers. We occasionally hear from back seat critics who refer to a successful salesperson pejoratively as a “farmer” or “account manager”. This is simply not true.

How to Get Past the Screener

The ability to gain access to decision makers is a sure sign of a top printing salesperson. Moving beyond screens is an important job requirement for all salespeople. A screen is defined as anyone who needs to be engaged before meeting the person or persons who make print buying decisions.

Five Sales Steps to Create More Value

Printing salespeople, who try to win deals by consistently quoting lower prices, face the shortest path to low sales and ultimate failure. In a tough world, where there are always alternatives to print-based communications, producing high quality print at low prices is not enough. Great printing salespeople create value for their customers

Selling Starts with Confidence

This is good time to take stock in one’s own confidence level. Lately, we are seeing a loss of the
confidence in many printing salespeople. Previously confident printing salespeople have been
shaken by a brutal economy that has seen millions of potential print users leave the workforce
through downsizing or business closings.

To make matters worse, there are the unrelenting changes in technology, pervasiveness of digital media and stiff competition from other printers.

There is a large amount of research that confirms confident salespeople outperform those who
are less sure of themselves. Confident salespeople are more resilient to rejection, more
persuasive and believe in themselves.

10 Steps to Selling Financial Value

In every print-based sale, from a simple brochure to a com-plex cross media campaign, printing salespeople must be able to justify the sale financially. Creating the coolest or most interesting print program in itself is not enough to close business. Every order requires the ability to sell the job financially, as well as convince the customer that the printer has the ability to print the job well.

Whether it is justifying the cost of print by providing the lowest price, comparing achieved benefits, using an ROI calculation, or showing a fast financial payback, great print salespeople are skilled at selling financial value.

Four Steps to Get Vertical

More and more printing customers are looking for ways to reduce costs and align communications strategies with their own growth strategies. This trend is not lost among successful print salespeople. Targeting specific vertical markets is a common strategy for many printing salespeople to gain more sales. Once a decision is made to go vertical, the challenge is then to determine what market is best and what is needed to “break in” to those targeted accounts.

Use Social Media to Build More Sales

As social media continues to evolve and new me­diums emerge, it can be difficult to keep up with new trends and strategies for using social media effectively. More and more printing salespeople are creatively using social media, mobile, and digital communication as a way to expand their networks and engage with their customers. Printing customers are there, so salespeople should be there, too. The key is finding the right channels to invest your time and determining how to use them to grow your business.

Don’t Give In—Negotiate!

We often hear from printing salespeople that negotiating with customers over terms, price, and specifications is the least enjoyable part of their job. Negotiating is not for the faint of heart. It can be contentious and, if not done well, it can cause of lot of hard work to be wasted. To make matters worse, many customers perceive print providers as a class of suppliers with which the customer holds the power.

A Salesperson’s Six Best Friends

Taking the time to gather information, qualify opportunities and build value is best accomplished by asking well-rehearsed and prepared questions to a multitude of customer personnel. Many printing salespeople we know spend a lot of time preparing for who they are going to see and how they will handle objections, but little time preparing the precise questions they will ask perspective clients