Printers: three more resolutions that will increase your sales in 2012

Posted by Matthew Parker

Do you remember school?  Do you remember getting your reports from your teachers?

I remember one teacher who always wrote the same report:  “Could do more”.  It seemed that most people in my class received this report.  But now I realise that it is a great piece of advice to remember.

We should always do more

Show print companies as different

Print companies need to remember to be different. And to treat their customers as individuals

Printers who continually create new ideas and set new strategies will achieve better sales.  They will do this through better partnerships.  And through staying in control of their clients and workflow.

Printers who don’t follow this level of change won’t have the same control over their clients.  They will lose their clients to printers who focus more on improvement.  And they will fail to achieve the same level of sales.

Last time I posted three New Year resolutions for you.  There has been some great debate on LinkedIn about this piece.  So now I have three more resolutions from these discussions.  They will help you achieve the sales that you need.  The first one comes from Harris Bank at Tappan Zee printers.

Resolution 1:  Use the telephone more for appointments

This is a great resolution to make.  Many people like to keep within the comfort zone of sending out an e-mail.  But it is difficult to create a good bond with e-mail.  Picking up the phone gives you the chance to create a bond with your customer.

Of course most of us hate cold calling.  So it is a good idea to set yourself a target for picking up the phone.   Set yourself a number of times that you will make a cold call per day or per week.  And make sure that you stick to it!

Picking up the phone is a great way to achieve resolution number 2.  It comes from Jamie Walsh at Xerox.

Resolution 2:  Make it personal

Many printers seem to forget that their clients are all different.  Sometimes it is easy to make a standard approach to everyone that you meet.  Unfortunately that is a way to make sure that your customers feel standard.  And you need them to feel special.

Many people feel that it is difficult to treat someone in this way.  You need a customer relationship management system.  And some variable data software.  But in reality, all you need to do is keep a few notes on each customer in your contact system.

If you have just a few details then it is easy to be personal to customers.  You can remember their birthdays, or mention their children and hobbies.  But, more importantly, you can keep a note of the way that they like to work.  And of the sort of projects where you have been successful.  So you can focus your proposals around these.  It is this sort of detail that can set you apart from the competition when you are fighting for a job.

And there’s one other thing you need to do to set yourself apart from the competition.  Let’s cover it in resolution three, again from Jamie.

Resolution 3:  Differentiate

98% of printers all sell on exactly the same message.  So it is not hard to differentiate.  So why do so few printers do this.

Many printers struggle to highlight what makes them different.  I often ask printers who are pitching to me to tell me what makes them different.  My question is often followed by a puzzled silence.  And then I get the dreaded price, service and quality response.

A printer needs something very specific to make them stand out.  It can be a product, a process or a way of doing business.  But it needs to be something that is concrete to a customer.  It needs to be something that they can imagine.

Good service or good quality is not specific enough.  The customer needs to understand that you are committed to certain levels of communication.  Or that you have a particular way of running colour management.  And they need to know the benefits that this will bring them.  Then they will be able to remember why you are different and why they should use you.

But if you don’t do this, you won’t stick in your customers’ minds.

Remember: it’s a mistake to standardise your sales pitch

These days, selling is all about being individual.  And about treating the customer as an individual.  So here are three action points to make sure you create individuality:

  1. Next time you are just about to e-mail a customer, pick up the phone instead.  And make sure you use that phone call to find out something about them.  And to improve your relationship with them.
  2. Use that phone call to make a proposal for that customer.  The proposal should be tailored for that customer and for no-one else
  3. Decide what it is that makes you different.  Make sure that this is something very precise.  Maybe it is your service that makes you stand out.  In which case make sure that you say why your service stands out.  Is it because you answer all calls in three rings or less?  Or that you have a checklist of points of exactly when you contact the customer?

These three action points will get you going.  But I am sure that you can think of some extra ones.

Keep in mind that you could always do more

You should come up with more ideas, more strategies and more action points.  That way you will come up with more sales!

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P.S.  If you want more ideas, more strategies and more action points 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/

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2 Responses to Printers: three more resolutions that will increase your sales in 2012

  • Excellent article. I always have tried to go by your three rules either in the businesses I worked for before or in my own that I have started. People appreciate the contact and honesty. I always will let a client (or potential client) know if we could do the job or if we couldn’t, send them to a competitor that could and for a good price (I am selective). Clients really appreciate that and more often than not I am in the bidding for another job. Don’t always get them, but I am still on their list.

    • Matthew Parker says:

      Thank you for your comments Myra. It’s great to see people having success from putting these strategies into action.
      Matthew

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