How a customer can be your best sales person

Posted by Matthew Parker

Do you like cold calling?

If you do like it, you are one of the lucky few who can get the most out of this activity.  Most printers that I know are just like me.  They will come up with any excuse to try and avoid picking up the phone to someone that they don’t know.  I’m not afraid to admit it.

I really hate cold calling

Print sales person on the phone

Do you hate cold calling? Use your customers to bring in more print work

So I came up with some strategies to try and reduce my time on the phone.  And I found that my customers were a very effective way to reduce my cold calling pain.  And your customers can reduce your cold calling time.

Printers who use customers as part of their sales team have much better control over their sales pipeline.  They will see a good list of new prospects.  And they will have tools for having a better chance of converting the prospects into clients.  They will achieve their sales targets.  And, by using their clients in this way, they will forge stronger relationships with them

Printers who don’t use customers as part of their sales team won’t create these strong partnerships.  And they won’t see the same level of warm prospects on the horizon.  They will lack control over their sales pipeline.  And they will struggle to achieve their sales targets.

So how can you use your customers as part of your sales force?  Here are three strategies.

Ask your customers for testimonials

Customer testimonials are a very powerful marketing tool.  Your customer isn’t relying on your word about the excellence of your company.  They see that other customers are willing to publicly put their name to a recommendation of your company.

Customer testimonials should be used throughout your marketing and sales activity.  You should use testimonials in the following places:

  • your website
  • your brochure
  • your sales letters
  • your social media activity

You could even consider using them on business cards.

However, to be effective, testimonials need to be created in the right way.  I will cover this in an upcoming article.

Testimonials WILL improve your client conversion rates.  But that alone will not dramatically improve your print sales.  However, once a customer has provided you with a testimonial they have become a supporter of your company.  (In technical terms this is known as a brand advocate).  And this means that they will often be prepared to help you further.  And that’s when you should move to stage two.

Ask your customers for referrals

Your customer will have a wide network of contacts.  And many of them will need print.  And this is where your customer can help.

One of the most effective ways of choosing something is by recommendation.  (And this is why testimonials are so effective.  They are recommendations).  I often visit restaurants, hotels and even holiday venues on the recommendation of a friend.  But the power of recommendation also works in business too.  I still ask people in my network to recommend me printers.

And it is easy to reverse the process.  You can ask your network to recommend customers.  You should make a point of asking your customers whom else they can introduce you to.

An introduction is a long way away from a cold call.  Again, you need to make sure that you ask for referrals in the right way.  This will also be covered in an upcoming article.  But the right style of referral will ensure that you have a worthwhile prospect.  You will have been introduced to someone who is prepared to have a serious conversation with you.  And you have an excellent opportunity of winning work from them.

But even when prospects have been convinced by you, they may need further reassurance.  And this brings us to the third way in which customers can help.

Use customers to provide references

References are a great way to ensure that a prospect will have no further doubts about using you.  Sometimes a prospect is nearly ready to place work but still needs a final convincer.  It is at this point that you should use a customer reference.

Customer references should not be written.  They should be verbal.  You should give your prospect the number of a customer and tell them to ring them.  (Make sure that you have the customer’s agreement first!)  If you have chosen the right customer, they will be able to talk to your prospect enthusiastically about your company.  And that enthusiasm is catching.

I encountered this enthusiasm recently.  I was writing some copy for a print company website.  So I I interviewed some of their customers.  The customers were even more enthusiastic about the company than their print sales team!

So using this enthusiasm is just one way in which customers can improve your print sales.  But some people may be unsure about using their customers in this way.

Should I expect my customers to help me?

Many loyal customers are only too happy to help their suppliers.  Remember the customers I was interviewing for the copywriting?  They gladly gave up 30 minutes of their valuable time each.  There were no complaints.  They were just pleased to be able to help a trusted supplier.

But that doesn’t mean that you should take this help for granted

Don’t forget to thank your customers

In doing so you will create an even stronger relationship.  They will really appreciate a handwritten note.  Or some cake or flowers or chocolates.  And if you treat your customers in this way you’ll turn them into raving fans.  And they’ll promote your print company even more.

Isn’t it time you started making the most of your customers?

Here are three action points to get you started down this route:

  1. Highlight your favourite five customers
  2. Ask each of them for a testimonial
  3. Ask each of them for a referral

And those five testimonials and five referrals will be the start of your journey to banishing cold call pain.
=================================================
P.S.  Do you want more ideas on how to improve relations with your print customers?  Then you should subscribe to the Profitable Print Relationships newsletter.  You’ll also receive our free e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them”.  So sign up right now at http://profitableprintrelationships.com/e-book/

email

4 Responses to How a customer can be your best sales person

  • sunil kapur says:

    Whenever possible,catch your customer’s managemant trainees, to patricipate in an Induction training programe in UNDERSTAND PRINT sessions at their office & follow up with a Plant Visit to your PRINTSHOP.These trainees have the inclination & the time & will be grateful for this programe,at this time in their career.Once they get into the Grind of their proffession,will understand our business better,ultimately help US work with them in THE FUTURE.
    This is a time tested strategy & even after 40 years is appreaciated & Welcomed by my Clients.

    • Matthew Parker says:

      Sunil, that’s an effective strategy for getting clients engaged. Thank you for sharing it.

      Matthew

  • Reward customers who provide referrals!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Improve print sales
Free E Book

Download "Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them" (worth £19/$29) absolutely free and receive practical articles as well.

Sell with social media
social-media-sales-marketing-printing

Download this practical guide (worth £19/$29) absolutely free and receive regular "Views From The Buyer" - including tips, case studies and great stories (Click the cover to download)