What printers can learn from travel agents – how to improve print sales with three focus points

Posted by Matthew Parker

Imagine that you are going to a travel agent.  You want to book the holiday of your dreams.  You are all fired up about the beach or the hotel or the scenery or the food.

Imagine if, instead of talking about the holiday, the travel agent started telling you about the plane.  They told you about the fuel consumption.  About how they were now able to heat meals three minutes quicker.  And about the safety processes that the pilot went through before take-off.

Would that want to make you use that travel agent?  Most people would decide to choose someone else to manage their holiday.  They wouldn’t trust the travel agent to understand their needs and give them the right service.  The travel agent was not focussing on their interests.

Printers should learn from the travel agent

Travel agents never talk about the plane you take for your holiday. Printers shouldn’t talk about the presses they use. Find out why in this article

Many print sales pitches focus on presses and processes.  They don’t focus on what the customer is trying to achieve.  This means they miss a big opportunity to engage with a prospect.

Print companies that talk to their prospects about their end goals are more likely to build stronger relationships.  Their prospects will often see such printers as partners who can help them achieve their business goals.  Therefore printers are more likely to achieve their sales targets.

Print companies that talk to their prospects about presses and processes are less likely to achieve their sales targets.  They will treated as commodity suppliers.  They will have little control over their sales pipeline.  That’s because they will have failed to create the right partnerships with their prospects.

How do you create that partnership?  Here are three things that print companies should focus on when they make a pitch to a prospect.  And the first one is all about treating the prospect as a person.

Focus on the prospect and their business

I have lost count of the number of times I have received a sales pitch that didn’t focus on me.  The print sales person had done hardly any research on me or my business.  Instead I received a bland, generic “one size fits all” sales approach.

As a result I didn’t feel that the printer was really interested in working with me.  I felt that they just wanted more volume to put through their presses.  So I had no interest in working with them.

But even printers who understood my business often failed to engage with me. Here’s what they should have done.

Talk to the prospect about their pain

Most printers who had shown me that they were interested in me and my business then went on to try and sell me print products.  Or they went on to tell me all about their company.  It’s at this point that I start to lose interest.  This is because the printer is not focussing on what motivates me to buy print.

The reason that I decide to place print work is because I see a compelling need.  There has to be a driver to make that order.  That driver is usually caused by a business pain.  After all, I wouldn’t visit a doctor unless I thought I was ill.

Printers who talk to their prospects about pain are far more likely to get the order.  But they need to do one other thing as well.

Talk to the prospect about why you are different

Sometimes print sales people do a great job of convincing me that they care about me.  And they do a great job of persuading me why I need their service or their product.  But they fail to convince me as to why I should use their company.  This is because they don’t differentiate their company from the competition.

If I don’t understand why your company stands out then I will be tempted to choose on price.  So printers need to tell me what they do differently from other companies.

Some print sales people are not convinced about these strategies.

Buyers aren’t interested in forming relationships with print companies:  they are only interested in price

Price is always an important part of a buying decision.  But if a buyer is only interested in price then a print company has not done a good enough job of engaging with them.  The company has focussed on commodity print and not selling on value.

Here are four things you should do straight away to get out of this trap

  1. Focus on a specific target audience
  2. Interview someone from this target audience.  Talk to them about the pains that they face
  3. Decide how your company stands out from the competition
  4. Invest in “How To Stop Print Buyers Choosing On Price”.  Printers are using it to sell more effectively to prospects.  There’s a special launch price, but it ends on Friday 28th November.  Find out more here.

Printers who sell with these strategies will make better profit margins

They will be more likely to be going to that travel agent to look at booking their dream holiday.
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P.S. 
Find out more about the buyer’s point of view.  Sign up to receive articles like this regularly and we send you  our free e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them”Sign up today.

I am indebted to Neil Falconer from http://www.printfuture.com/ for use of his travel agent analogy.

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