Three essential ways to save yourself from print sales extinction

Posted by Matthew Parker

“Are they very old Daddy?”

My young daughter is fascinated by dinosaurs at the moment.  There’s nothing more she’d like to see than a dinosaur flying by!  I have to remind her that they are extinct.

Some print sales people are also almost extinct

Print sales dinosaur

Don’t become a print sales dinosaur

Do you remember the old school sales rep?  The one who came in for a cup of coffee and a chat?  And then expected to walk out with an order or two?

It’s hard to find those sales people any more.  And that’s because they don’t succeed if all they do is pop in for a coffee and a chat.

These days that is not enough

Print sales professionals need to do an awful lot more to justify their role.  Good print sales people will be in control of a strong sales pipeline.  They will know that they will achieve their sales targets.  They are in the habit of creating strong business partnerships.

But print sales people who don’t use the right strategies won’t create these partnerships.  They’ll be suffering from a lack of loyalty in their customers.  So they’ll have no control over their sales pipeline.  And they’ll fail to achieve their sales targets.

So here are three tasks that I think every print sales person should carry out.

Print sales people should make their company stand out

Print buyers need to understand why a printer is different.  They need a reason to engage with a print company.  And they need a reason to actually choose that company to work for them.

What happens if a print company doesn’t have a point of difference?  Then it is hard for the buyer to find a real reason to choose them.  So then the printer is passed over and a competitor is chosen.  Or if the printer is chosen, it is down to price.

It is down to the print salesperson to understand the points of difference in their company.  And it is down to them to make these points understood by the buyer.

Of course some print buyers need more than a point of difference.  They need a good economic reason to choose a printer.  And this is where the print sales person’s next task comes in.

Print sales people should sell on cost not price

Print buyers need to spend their budgets wisely.  The trouble is that many print sales people believe that this comes down to choosing the lowest price.  However, what buyers really need to do is to spend less.  A good print sales person will be able to show a print buyer how to do this.  But it won’t affect the print sales person’s margins.

Many print sales people tell me that they could save their clients money by showing them how to do things differently.  But many print sales people also choose not to help their clients in this way.  They feel that their job is to do what the buyer tells them.  This means that there are lots of opportunities for print sales people who sell on cost.

But if they do this successfully, they still need to create a long term relationship with the client.  And this means that they need to make sure that they carry out their third task.

Print sales people should create sticky solutions

Sticky solutions means that print customers stay with you.  These days it is very easy for a print buyer to move from printer to printer.  This is because there is no barrier to moving.  Print buyers do not need to worry about the consequences of changing print supplier.

Smart printers find ways to lock their customers in.  This can be through data management, web to print or similar. And if a print customer is using a solution like this, moving suppliers causes pain.  The customer no longer just send their pdf to a new e-mail address.  They now have to change a whole solution.  So they are much less likely to change print companies.

These are the three tasks that I believe good print sales people should carry out.  But not all print sales people agree with me.  Some think print sales should be more people focussed.

Isn’t print sales all about the relationship?

Relationships are vital in print sales.  But they only work well if the right strategies are used as well.  The tasks I have outlined will make your relationships stronger and easier to manage.  And they may help create new relationships.

But they won’t work if no relationship is created between the print sales person and the print buyer.  And a relationship is less likely to happen if the print sales person only focusses on their company.

Don’t forget that print sales is all about the customer

All these tasks above should be carried out with the customer in mind.  All the solutions and all the messaging should be created with one thing in mind.  And that is how they help solve the customers problems.

So here are three action points to help you put these tasks into action and solve your customers’ problems:

  1. Create a point of difference for your company:  it must be something very specific
  2. Focus on one client:  create three ways to save them money without reducing your profit margins
  3. Create a new service for your print company which focusses on making sure that it is difficult for your customers to move printer

I’ll be writing articles on all these topics over the next few weeks.

So don’t be a dinosaur

Make sure you put the strategies into place.  And then you’ll be part of the new era of print sales.
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7 Responses to Three essential ways to save yourself from print sales extinction

  • Marc Zazeela says:

    Great ideas. I really like selling “cost” versus “price”. Some folks don’t know the difference until it is pointed out.

  • Great ideas! I totally agree with these three points. It is really important to be able to communicate well with your clients, get into a comfortable but realistic relationship, know what they need and want, versus can spend. Not everyone can do it, but to keep a valuable client, they should learn!

  • Steve Weaver says:

    With out going into deeper detail, your 3 ways to save extinction is on the mark. A strong relationship of expected and accepted excellent service and support from the print salesperson and his organization by the print buyer far outweighs all other relationships.

    On the other hand, if a print salesperson/print buyer relationship is based solely on price, the next salesperson in the door with the lowest price assumes that relationship.

    There is always a lower price.

    • Matthew Parker says:

      Steve, thanks for your comments. If the ways I have outlined are not used, then there is a strong possibility that the relationship will be price-based, and therefore commodity based.
      Matthew

      • Steve Weaver says:

        SERVICE, finding methods of accomplishing the same desired result cheeper. protecting everyone’s bottom line.

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