How the wrong clients can cost printing companies big money: three essential prospect qualification skills

Posted by Matthew Parker

Have you ever lost a sure fire sale?

I remember clearly one of the first sales pitches that I made when I set up Print & Procurement. I was excited to have successfully cold called a new prospect. They had invited me in for a meeting. I was all set to win a new client.

But it was not to be.

I had a long meeting. I gave the prospect lots of useful information. I left the meeting in high spirits. But I never heard from the prospect again.

When I thought about it, I realised that the prospect had never had any intention of buying. They simply wanted to get as much free information from me as possible. If I had been more cautious I would have seen that the signs were there all along. But I had made a simple sales error.

I had failed to qualify my prospect

Sometimes you should push your prospects away - find out why

Sometimes you should push your prospects away – find out why

This is a common issue in the print industry. I often find print companies desperately trying to get me to give them a quote. However, sometimes it is obvious to me that there is not a good fit between their company and me. If the sales people at these companies spent more time qualifying me, then they might often choose to walk away.

Printers that qualify their prospects thoroughly will have a better control over their sales pipeline. They are more likely to achieve sales targets that they require. Most importantly, they are more likely to end up with clients with whom they have good relationships.

Printers that fail to qualify their prospects sufficiently may still end up with a client. However, they may find that it is not the ideal client and that they do not create a partnership. They will also find it more difficult to control the sales pipeline. So they are less likely to achieve their sales targets.

However, some print sales people may disagree with this.

Isn’t it dangerous to disqualify prospects?

Some print sales people are worried that if they disqualify a prospect they may lose out on a job. Actually, if the wrong prospects are not disqualified, there can be disastrous effects for a print factory.

Let’s look at this with a basic example. If a printer specialises in magazines their equipment is set up to manufacture certain products very effectively. If a commercial job is suddenly introduced to the factory, output is immediately slowed.

Lack of prospect qualification can be expensive

Many printers have expensive estimating teams. These teams are often very busy. However, often they are churning out quotes for clients who have little intention of placing work with them.

Quoting a job for the sake of it may not be the best course of action. You may even end up with a client you never really wanted.

Here’s how failing to qualify a client cost one printer a lot of money

This client was very, very fussy. They constantly argued about the finer points of colour management. But the printer was focused on producing print to normal commercial standards.

They ended up with a client that was constantly demanding reprints. The client also wasted an awful lot of customer service time.

Here are three ways in which print companies can effectively qualify their prospects:

  • Target markets
  • Understanding the buying process
  • The power of saying no

I will be following up with an article on each of these strategies in the coming weeks.

There’s one thing you should do straight away

Sign up to my mailing list to ensure that you receive an article on each of these strategies.

You don’t want to make the same sales mistake that I did

You don’t want to put in a lot of effort with the prospect only to find that you have completely wasted your time.

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P.S. Are you making any of these print sales errors? Sign up right and receive a free copy of  “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them”.

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