Why today’s customer does not want to listen to a print sales pitch

Posted by Matthew Parker

I am a dinosaur

I used to work as a professional print buyer. My full-time role was to deal with the print supply chain. But now there is no call for people like me.

The role of the print buyer is extinct. Whenever I run sales workshops I ask if anyone still deals with full-time print buyers. It is extremely rare that anyone raises their hand at this point.

Few companies even deal with professional procurement people. These days, the purchase of print has been passed down the line.

What these today’s print buyer like?

printing-sales

This is not what your customers want to hear about any more

I have been told that the average buyer is female, between 25 and 35 and the member of a marketing team. I am sure that many of your buyers are quite different from this. But I am also pretty sure that many of them may exhibit some of the same characteristics.

Most of today’s buyers know very, very little about print. Worse still, many of today’s buyers don’t even care much about the technical print process. They don’t know how to specify a print job. They just need some marketing material, or some signage or some packaging.

Why do printing companies gets so technical with people like this?

I still find that the majority of printing companies today sell print. Even though that is not what most buyers are interested in.

Some printing companies realise that customers don’t want to know about print. These companies have a better chance of creating good relationships with their customers. They are more likely to control a pipeline of prospects that prefer talking to a supplier that speaks their language. That means both customer and supplier are more likely to achieve their goals.

Printing companies that constantly talk about print are less likely to achieve their goals. They are more likely to put potential customers off. They will find it more difficult to create the right level of relationship.

There are more companies like this than you might think. Let’s look at three ways in which prospects are exposed to the language of print. The first way is fairly obvious.

Many print sales people talk too much about print

There are a large number of print salespeople who have risen through the ranks of a company. They may well have started out as part of the production team. Print is in their blood. They can’t help but talk about it.

Even those who started their career in sales have often been in the print industry for years. Print may be in their veins as well. They often believe that the way to win a customer over is to talk about their machinery.

I have often felt my eyes glaze over when being told all about the plant list at a printing company. Technical descriptions of colour management and production workflows are other ways to lose a buyer’s attention quickly.

Naturally, not all sales people are like this. Many engage their customers without getting technical at all. But they may not have the backup they need from their companies. Here’s another way in which printing companies get technical with their prospects.

Most brochures are full of pictures of printing presses

It seems to be an unwritten law of the printing industry that a company brochure must have at least one picture of a press. Many brochures will also feature jobs they have carried out for clients. These are accompanied by full technical specifications

The rest of the brochure talks all about the company. In other words, it’s really all about print. It’s not about the customer at all.

Here’s another way in which printing companies can get too technical.

Company websites are just as bad as brochures

Again, it seems impossible to have printing company website without a picture of a press. Most websites echo the contents of the company brochure.

If a customer doesn’t really care about print, they are not going to be engaged by the website.

So what’s the solution?

The answer is to talk about the results you achieved for customers. I’m not talking about the fantastic print that you produce for them. I’m talking about how your services have helped improve their business.

I am always surprised at how few company websites do this. I’m coming back to this in my blog next Thursday.

In the meantime, here’s a quick action point for you

Having a quick run through your sales approach. Review your company brochure. Look at your company website. Is it all about print? Should you be adapting your message?

Think about your typical buyer today. Remember, there are few roles like my old job. The dinosaurs are pretty much extinct.

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4 Responses to Why today’s customer does not want to listen to a print sales pitch

  • Greg Nash says:

    Well Matthew I too am a dinosaur. You make some very good points.

  • Chris Marshall says:

    Matthew, I am guilty as charged as someone who came up through the ranks of a print shop. I can tell, know one is very interested in how it gets done, only that it gets done, they communicated their message, and it was delivered to intended audience.

    • Matthew Parker says:

      Chris, thank you for your honesty! I’m glad you have seen the same reaction from buyers these days. How do you manage to gain their interest?

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