Dream accounts are those high potential prospects that would have a huge impact on sales and compensation. Every printing salesperson and printing company owner has at least one dream account within their local geography. It is in these accounts that there is a perfect fit and large potential for what the print provider sells.
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.
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.
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.
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We have found that many are still relying on outdated sales techniques.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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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