Why print sales people should know nothing about printing

Posted by Matthew Parker

Have you heard about the newsreader who sold print?

One printing company decided to try something different. They decided to hire someone who has been a local newsreader to sell printing services for them.

Everyone said it would be a disaster.

The newsreader knew nothing about print. How on earth would she be able to sell the company’s services? She would be unable to answer any of the buyers’ questions. Every conversation would make her look like the amateur she was.

The critics were forced to eat their words. The newsreader became the most successful salesperson at the printing company.

May be it was the lack of printing knowledge that created her success

Sometimes the news headlines can lead to successful printing sales

Sometimes the news headlines can lead to successful printing sales

I believe that her lack of printing knowledge forced the newsreader to sell more creatively. I also believe that some prospects are actually delighted that they didn’t have to sit through a lot of talk about print.

Print sales people who avoid technical talk about print can often create better relationships. They will often focus on talking about things that matter more to their prospects. These salespeople can frequently achieve more from their client meetings. This is because they will focus on a bigger picture than just an individual print job

Print sales people who make the conversation all about print often fail to see the bigger picture. They achieve less for their customers and invest for their own companies. Their prospects may feel alienated by all the print talk. It will often be harder to generate a good relationship.

Here are three reasons why it may actually help for sales people to know less about print.

Buyers don’t care about print

These days, most buyers do not have a technical background. They don’t want to know what happens at your factory.

These buyers do not even care too much about the printed items themselves. What matters to them are the results that the print brings their company.

This brings me to the second point.

It’s better to focus on the end result

The end result is not the delivery of your printed product. It is the change in results for the purchaser of the print.

Sales people who focused too much on technical print matters often miss this point. It is easier to start talking about the end result if you do not focus too much on print.

There’s another reason why too much print knowledge can be a problem at this point.

Technical knowledge can stop creative thinking

This is an issue that I have often found in a creative brainstorming sessions. Often if I am trying to change something a technical print person may tell me why I can’t do what I want. There is frequently a technical reason that makes things difficult.

People who do not have too much technical knowledge are often more inspired to find a way to do something new. Their lack of print knowledge lets them think in different ways.

Of course, this is something that many people see as a problem.

How can you sell a solution if you don’t know whether you can produce it?

It is vital that salespeople without too much print knowledge have a technical backup team at the factory. This team can provide any technical answers that the customer may want. They can also help shape new proposals from the sales person.

It is also important that the salesperson knows when to ask these questions. They need to make sure that they are not promising something you cannot deliver. However, in my experience, people without print experience are more likely to ask questions at the right time.

Some print companies may like these ideas, but be cautious about putting them into practice.

I can’t afford to experiment with unskilled staff

There is another way. You may want to spend some time with your sales staff showing them ways to sell without leading on technical print talk. Sometimes, it’s timely to remind your sales team of what interests the customer most.

The important thing is to take action.

Here are three things you can do straightaway

Even if you don’t want to recruit new sales staff, these three strategies are worth putting into practice.

  1. Lead by talking about the customer, not your company
  2. Avoid technical print discussions, unless specifically requested by the prospect
  3. Focus on solutions to the prospect’s pain (find out more about this here)    

Even if you don’t employ a newsreader, you may soon find that your sales figures hit the headlines.
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5 Responses to Why print sales people should know nothing about printing

  • john.osta says:

    I would love to meet the author

  • Ron Sigelman says:

    I like the old saying “you can teach an old dog new tricks”

  • Grace Savides says:

    I came across this article in one of my printing LinkedIn groups and there was quite the spirited debate surrounding it, especially given the title. (Which means you did an EXCELLENT job of naming your post. Way to go!)

    Maybe because of the controversial title, a lot of them seemed to be missing what I see as the heart of this article: informational overload is never a good thing. It’s one of the oldest rules of writing. You can’t assume your audience will find something interesting just because you do. Don’t give them more than they need.

    Even so, I don’t think a wealth of technical knowledge is a problem as long as you know where and how to use it. People don’t care about the details of your printing press, but they will care if those details mean that you can do their job faster or at a better price than their competitor.

    Long story short, the customer is always king and communication is the key. Knowledge is a powerful tool if you know how to spin it. If you don’t, then it just gets in the way.

    Excellent article Matthew. I always enjoy reading your posts.

    • Matthew Parker says:

      Grace, thank you for your kind and balanced comments. You are right – it’s about not overloading people with your knowledge. But a controversial headline seems to have worked :)

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