Why asking for quotes loses you printing sales

Here’s a sales approach that is guaranteed to create the wrong result for you

“Dear Matthew,

We are a printing company with an xx press, offering excellent quality and service. We wondered if you had any work we can quote for you?”

I still receive a worryingly high number of approaches from printing companies along these lines, both by phone and e-mail.

So what’s wrong with this approach?

Think hard before spending time on customer estimates

Think hard before spending time on customer estimates

This sales approach is based on the numbers game. It works on the basis that if you send out enough prices you will get lucky sometime. Some sales people have told me that if you throw enough mud, some of it will stick. That’s not an inspiring way to describe your sales strategy!

This approach is also showing diminishing returns. Typically, people pursuing this strategy are having to work harder but are winning fewer jobs.

The trouble is that, by asking to quote so early on in the process, a buyer is not engaged with you. If they give you work to quote on, all may not be as positive as it seems.

There are three typical reasons why a buyer may give you a quote so soon

Firstly, it’s just the quickest way to get you off the phone! By giving you a quote the buyer doesn’t have to reject you. Nor do they have to listen to a lengthy sales pitch.

Secondly, the buyer may genuinely be interested in seeing if you can provide them with a lower price. But if you do give them a better price, it doesn’t mean that they are going to give you the work. They may just take your price and use it to beat down their current, trusted supplier.

Lastly, the buyer may want to see if you offer them a lower price. If you do they will award you the work. However, this result is not as positive as it may seem. After all, next time round one of your competitors may offer me a better quote. And, if they do, the buyer will promptly move their work to them. They can’t be regarded as a loyal, long-term customer. Remember, someone will always be prepared to offer a lower price.

So what’s the alternative?

Make sure that you engage with the buyer before asking for a quote. Show them that you understand their marketplace. Show them that you are in their world. You should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the business challenges that they face. You should also be able to show how your products and services help the buyer overcome these challenges. Finally, you should be able to tell the buyer why they should use your company rather than the competition.

Constructing a sales message like this is harder than it sounds. But if you don’t do this you will be forced into selling commodity print. And that means playing the ever-diminishing numbers game.
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2 Responses to Why asking for quotes loses you printing sales

  • John Potega says:

    No kidding…..this prospect doesn’t even know YOU, your reputation or possibly even your company! WHY would they give you an opportunity to bid on a print job that’s perhaps taken months to put together? NEVER tell the prospect about you, your company or what you do. Don’t even walk in with business cards or (God forbid!), samples! Engage in conversation, getting the prospect/client to tell you about them, what they do and what they’re looking for! Even if you only find out their child just had his sixth birthday, you’ll be remembered for being a “person” first and a print salesperson, second. You will always be welcomed by the prospect (unless you’re a real dork), and yes, you will not only receive requests for bids, but you WILL receive the jobs to do, one way or another. I’ve been getting to know more about my prospects for almost thirty years, and getting more and more jobs to do. GET TO KNOW THE PROSPECT FIRST!

  • Mark Reid says:

    This misguided approach closes out future opportunity to sell service, quality, fast turnaround.., etc. Opening (or trying to open) a new relationship by emphasing price tells a prospective client to expect nothing of value on which to build a new relationship.

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