Why printing companies must make their prospects pass the Formula 1 test to find profitable customers

Posted by Matthew Parker

Have you ever dreamed of being a Formula One racing driver?

For most of us, the chances of this dream becoming reality are highly remote. Very few people ever get the chance to even try for the lower grades of racing driving. Racing teams are ruthless in their selection policies.

That ruthlessness means that they get the very best. They get the drivers that will get the best results for them.

Printing companies benefit from ruthless selection procedures too.

Printing companies should be ruthless with their client choice

The idea of target audience is really important to find the right customers

The idea of target audience is really important to find the right customers

If printing companies want to get the best client relationships they need to follow a process that is just as exacting as those of the formula one teams. They certainly shouldn’t be afraid to reject the wrong type of client.

The trouble is that many companies aren’t sure what the right type of client is for them. The easiest way to work this out is is to use the idea of target market. It’s a great way to start drawing in more customers that you can really work well with.

So what is target market?

Target market lets you focus on a particular type of prospect. These prospects will be ones that you know work efficiently and profitably for your print company. Your marketing and sales efforts will focus on these prospects.

In an ideal world, you will start refusing prospects who do not fit your target market profile.

Printers that use the idea of target markets usually find it easier to control a sales pipeline. They also have clients with whom they are more likely to create profitable partnerships. This combination means that they find it easier to achieve their sales targets.

Print companies that tried to contract every customer possible may actually find it harder to achieve the sales numbers that they need. They will find that they have customers that do not work well with their company. These customers can cause a lot of extra work and expense. They don’t even remain loyal.

So how to you go about working out your target market?

Work out the type of client that you want

Have a look at your best current clients. What is it about them that makes them work for you? Here are some questions you should try and answer: What market sector are they in?

  • What company culture do they have?
  • What is the role of your main contact there?
  • What is their skill level?
  • What challenges do they face?
  • How do you help them?

If you can answer all these questions you will have a good picture of the type of clients that you want. Then you can go out and specifically seek this type of client.

You will find that you are more likely to be speaking to prospects that are interested in your company. Because you understand and want that type of customer, you are more likely to be speaking their language.

However, there’s another way you need to qualify your customers as well.

Know which products you want to produce

You want the right type of clients. That your clients will only be right for you if they want to produce work that fits your factory and workflow. I still see some printers who will try and manufacture everything for their clients. That means that efficient manufacturing can be difficult.

Some sales pitches that I receive promise me that the printer can produce anything I want. As a buyer, that makes me worry that the printer is a jack of all trades. A jack of all trades is master of none.

One issue for print sales people is that they are not always briefed on the best product for their factory. It is an important part of the sales process for everyone to know exactly what type of product you want from a client.

So if you have focused on the ideal clients and the perfect product, does that mean your job is done? Not at all. There is an important task that still awaits you.

Question your prospects

It is important to question your prospects to find if they fit your client and product outline. If they don’t appear to, it is worth talking to them in detail about how you expect them to work with you.

If a client is seriously interested in working with you, this can be a powerful technique. The fact that you are making it harder for them to work with you often increases the prospect’s desire to buy.

In any case, you may find that they will end up being an expensive client that will disrupt your factory. You may decide that you really don’t want to work with them.

Some sales people will think that I’m mad to even think of turning away prospects.

Why would I turn away clients when I need all the work I can get?

There is a printer near me that regularly turns down work. They have a very detailed profile of what works for them. They refuse to take any work that does not match this profile. It makes their process too inefficient. They will happily turn away quote requests.

You might think that they have plenty of capacity as a result of this. Nothing could be further from the truth. Their focus on the right type of work and client wins them plenty of business. And they make a decent profit from it.

So how do you start having the same results as this print company?

Here are three action points to get you on the right road

  1. Profile your ideal client
  2. Profile your ideal products
  3. Find out more about target markets in “How to stop print buyers choosing on price”

You will soon find that you will be racing ahead with your sales efforts!
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