The three-stage print factory tour: how printers can turn prospects into clients time after time

Posted by Matthew Parker

Do you like going to concerts?  I love live music.  But there is so much more to a good concert than the event itself.

I love the build-up of anticipation in the days before I go to see a band.  Then the big day arrives and I enjoy a great evening’s music.  But it doesn’t end there.  I enjoy thinking back about the event.  And I’ll talk about the concert with friends as well.

Do your prospects have the same experience when they take a tour of your factory?

You should make a factory tour feel like a rock concert. Find out how in this article

A three stage factory tour can make prospects really engaged with your company

Printers who use three stage factory tours will build deeper relationships with their prospects.  They will also be more in control of what the client notices and remembers.  That means the printer is more likely to achieve a successful sale as a result of the factory tour.

Printers that do not use three stage factory tours are less likely to make the sale.  This is because they won’t be able to control the prospects experience so well.  So the chance of creating the right level of partnership is much less likely.

It is easy for printers to create ta successful factory tour.  And that is because the three stage factory visit is so rarely used.

So what is a three stage factory tour?

This system was introduced to me by Roger Buck of CDC.  The three stages do not actually all take place on the visit.  The strength of this factory visit lies in managing the prospect before and after the visit.  The three stages are:

  • Create expectations before the visit
  • Lead a great factory tour
  • Remind the prospect of the highlights after the visit

Let’s look at these stages in more detail

Stage 1 – create expectations before the visit

Before the visit you have a great chance to get your prospect really excited about visiting the factory.  And this is an opportunity that is wasted by many printers.  Normally I just have a confirmation of the date and time of visit from the sales person.

There is so much more that you could do.  Here are some of the things that you could send a prospect before their visit:

  • An agenda (with times, and reassurance that there will be a coffee break or that they will be taken to lunch)
  • Information about the people they will be meeting.  You can include photographs, an overview of their job roles and some personal information as well.  Good relationships are more likely to be built if the client feels that they know a person before they meet them.
  • Information about some of the highlights that you will be showing them e.g. fantastic work, special points of note about the building, unusual processes or special machinery.
  • A video so that they get a sense of the factory before the visit.

You should also make sure that you ask the prospect

  • what they want to see on the tour
  • what they hope gain from the tour
  • what do you need to do to persuade them to place their work with you

This means that you have the best chance of making stage two successful

Stage 2 – lead a great factory tour

This is the stage that should be familiar to most print sales people.  However, it should not be assumed that everyone can automatically host a great tour.  I know of one company that makes each of its sales staff take round senior management.  In this way the quality of the factory visit can be monitored.

Here are some of the key things you should aim to cover on the tour:

  • introduce as many staff as possible.  A friendly culture can make a great impression on a prospect
  • make sure the prospect sees what you do that is better and different to your competitors
  • show the prospect actual quality checks being carried out on the factory floor
  • show the prospect work that is being produced as you go through the factory.  This will reassure them that you can produce the right quality every time
  • offer a brainstorming session on the prospect’s projects to see if you can help improve them

If you manage all this, then you should have a prospect that is ready to place work with you.  However, the good effects a factory visit can soon be forgotten.  Therefore it is essential that you remember to carry out the final stage.

Stage 3 – remind the prospect of the highlights after the visit

Again I rarely receive much follow up from printers after the event.  However, you really need to take this opportunity to remind the client that:

  • they have visited an excellent factory
  • you appreciate their time and
  • you want their work

Here are some of the things that you can do at this point:

  • send a thank you to the prospect – maybe a handwritten one
  • send the prospect a reminder of the tour highlights.  Again, you could make this a video
  • check if the prospect has any other queries after the visit
  • ask the prospect for feedback

Some print sales people may feel that this stage is overkill.  Indeed they may query the whole process.

Doesn’t a three stage factory tour takes up a lot more time?

This is true.  However, it takes a lot of work to get a prospect to your factory.  You don’t want to waste all that hard work by not spending enough effort on the visit itself.  This is the longest time that you will ever spend with many clients.

You should also remember that much of the first and third stages can be standardised.  You don’t have to start them from scratch every time.

So start making sure that you can run the best factory tours for your clients

Here are three action points to get you started:

  • Make a list of all the information that you want to present to the prospect before they visit the factory
  • Create an agenda for when the prospect visits
  • Make a list of everything that you want to remind the prospect about after the visit

Do you remember how excited I get about going to a concert?

Remember that this is the chance for you to create the same excitement with your print prospects.
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