The sixth myth of print sales: selling service and quality is a great way to get new customers

Posted by Matthew Parker

I have been approached by over 1400 printing companies. That’s a lot of print sales pitches to sit through! So now I play a little game. Here’s how it goes.

In my last article, I explained how most print sales pitches sound exactly the same to buyers. My game centres around these similarities. I have a little tick list. Every time I get a new sales pitch from a print company, I bring out the list.

As the printer goes through their sales pitch, I see how many elements I can tick off my list. You can see the four key points from the list in my last article. Right now, I want to focus on two elements of my list. This is because many print sales people think that they are a great way to sell to prospects. In reality, they often lose sales.

Selling on service and quality rarely works

Selling on five star service and quality may not be the best way to attract print customers

Selling on five star service and quality may not be the best way to attract print customers

Print salespeople who avoid selling on service and quality are more likely to engage with buyers. They are more likely to create a worthwhile relationship with them. They will also have more control over the sales process. So they are more likely to achieve the sales targets that they have set themselves.

Print sales people who sell on service, quality and similar offerings will find it harder to achieve their sales targets. They will struggle to control the sales process. This is because buyers will have heard their message many times before. So they will treat them as commodity sellers. These print sales people will find it harder to create profitable customer relationships.

Some print sales people will be surprised at what I’m saying.

Surely buyers require service and quality?

I am not sure that this is quite the right way of putting things. Certainly, buyers require service and quality. But they also expect these as standard. Saying that you have great service and quality is not enough to attract a buyer.

There are vastly varying standards of service and quality within the print industry. However, not all customers require the highest levels. Some are quite happy with acceptable levels of service and quality.

So if service and quality are no longer enough to attract a buyer, what should a print salesperson do? Here are three other things that are much more likely to engage a buyer.

Pain

Talking to a prospect about the problems they are facing is a great way to engage their interest. If you can solve a problem for the prospect then they are much more likely to engage with you. They are much more likely to purchase from you.

As long as you can make their pain go away, you will be in a very powerful selling position.

Here is another topic that puts you in a good selling position.

Difference

If you can explain to a prospect why your company is different to the competition, then they are more likely to consider if you. Many print salespeople struggle to find a point of difference. That is why so many sales conversations come back to service and quality.

Service and quality do not make a point of difference. The only exception to this is if you have some specific feature that really matters to the customer.

Here’s another way you can make your company sound different.

Unusual services

These days, just selling print on paper is a sure-fire way to get commoditised. You need to be able to sell value added services as well. And you need to make sure that these are different from your competitors.

Some printers in the magazine sector have done this very successfully. They have started selling solutions which allow publishers to publishing digital channels as well as print.

Let’s look at another example.

Here’s how one printer use these strategies to get a meeting with me

This printer approached me with an unusual sales pitch. They actually talked very little about print. Instead, they talked about project management and to the processes around this. I was working in a large company at the time, so any way that I could improve project management would be very useful to me.

That was the reason that I agreed to have a meeting with them. They had focused on an issue that caused me challenges. They talked to me about the services they have around this. Not about ink on paper.

Later on in the buying process, I would check that they could provide good service and quality. But at this stage I was happy to take these elements for granted.

Here are three ways to get a meeting with your prospect

  1. Think of a customer pain
  2. Think of a difference
  3. Think of a new service your customer hasn’t seen

If you use these strategies, I’ll score zero on my tick list

You’ll be making me, and other buyers, sit up and listen to you instead.
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2 Responses to The sixth myth of print sales: selling service and quality is a great way to get new customers

  • Charles Cox says:

    I spend over 27 years in the printing industry, 15 of which were in straight commission sales. I had built a nearly $5 million book of business from a very loyal customer base. The tragedies of 9/11 and the following recession took it’s toll on my business and many others like me. I had to work nearly twice as hard to make a third of the money I once did. Printing has since become a commodity that is purchased more on price than ever before. I have since left the industry and I now make as much as I did before 9/11 working from home and spending more time with my family. To learn more, visit my website TheXPrinter.com

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