Why treating your print customers well is a recipe for disaster

Posted by Matthew Parker

Print companies who treat their customers well are unlikely to succeed in today’s marketplace.

Does that sound odd? Surely good customer service is an essential to successful business.

Printers need to throw out the concept of good customer service

The best present you can give your print clients is excellent customer service

If you want to succeed in today’s marketplace, good customer service is no longer enough. Nowadays you need excellent customer service. You need to treat your prospects and clients as premium customers.

Printers who treat everyone as a premium client will create much stronger relationships with their customers. They’ll have customers who remain loyal to their supplier. And because those customers keep coming back with more work, these printers will be in control of their sales pipeline. And they’ll find it easier to achieve their sales targets.

Printers who simply treat their customers well will find it much more difficult to create stronger relationships. Their customers won’t see anything unusual in the way they are treated. So they won’t see any reason to stay loyal. So these printers won’t have the same visibility of upcoming work as they won’t know if their customers are staying or not. They won’t have the control they need over their sales pipeline. And they’ll find it harder to achieve the sales that they need. This is because they don’t have a premium client culture.

But how do you make a client feel like a premium client? Here are three ways to start this off, before you’ve even converted the customer.

Make me feel that you’re talking to me and no-one else

Many printers use the same sales message for all their customers. The trouble is that this creates a bland, generic sales message. Because the message is designed to appeal to all prospects it actually ends up speaking to none of them.

It is much better to focus on a target audience. Then you’ll be able to speak their language. You’ll understand their challenges. And your prospects will understand that you really are talking to them.

I used to work for a major magazine publisher. A large number of printers approached me asking for print work. But few actually showed any understanding of the type of magazine we produced, or the issues that we faced in the marketplace. Those that did show the right understanding often won a meeting.

But a good first impression is not enough.

Make me feel like a special customer on a regular basis

There are many ways to do this. Here are a few ideas:

  • Send me a thank you after a meeting
  • Remember personal details that I’ve spoken to you about. For instance, ask how my holiday was
  • Send me a small present every now and again
  • Remember my business challenges and come up with advice for them – even if they are nothing to do with print
  • Remind me that you are actively seeking clients like me (and tell me why)

All of these little extras will go towards making me feel that you do really care about me. But for this to work you need to do one other thing.

Make the effort to stay in touch with me

I am constantly surprised at how few print sales people follow up when asked to. I will often tell someone when I am planning a project. And then I never hear from them again. Or I hear at completely the wrong time. It doesn’t make me feel like a premium customer.

I keep a note of each call that I have to make as a task in Microsoft Outlook. That way I never miss a call that has been agreed with a prospect. I can make sure that I never forget to make someone feel like a premium client.

Some print sales people will not be impressed with what I have written in this article

They will point out that this is basic sales common sense. They will say that it’s what every print sales person ought to do anyway.

And I’d agree with them.

However, many print sales people simply do not use strategies such as these. In many of the approaches that I have received from printers, this sort of thinking has been completely absent.

So here are three action points to help you put these strategies into practice

  1. Pick a target audience (you can find out more about target audiences and how to choose them in my new book “How To Stop Print Buyers Choosing On Price”
  2. Pick one method from those I listed earlier to make your prospects feel special
  3. Make sure you create a system that logs when you need to make every call

Make sure your clients don’t walk away because you treat them well

Make sure that they stay because you treat them as premium clients

Of course, the premium treatment needs to carry on once the job has been won. And I’ll cover this more in my next article.
============================================================
P.S.  Find out more about creating more profitable relationships with your print customers:  subscribe to the Profitable Print Relationships newsletter.  You’ll also receive our free e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them”.  Sign up straight away.

email

10 Responses to Why treating your print customers well is a recipe for disaster

  • Matt says:

    My father owns a printing business and he brought me on to be a salesman. I have been a salesman at big box stores but selling print is a different animal. I think these suggestions are really helpful. Thank you for writing this!

  • Elkizabeth Kelsall says:

    Hi Matthew,
    What a wonderful article. I employ many of the above mentioned. I live on a very small Island called Vanuatu where there are 3 Printing companys and 4 sign busineses. We all overlap in many areas. I have found that I keep my clients by employing the Excellent Customer Service method. Even when my clients try elsewhere I find they come back after not too long. You also mentioned things in your article which I have not used but will most certainly do so from now on. Thanks LiZi

    • Matthew Parker says:

      Hi Lizi,

      Thanks for your kind comments. I’m delighted that I have given you some new ideas.

      Best wishes

      Matthew

  • Renee Smith says:

    Thank-you for this great article. I believe that exceeding our customers expectations makes them loyal customers. You shared some very valuable information here.

  • Gary says:

    Spot on and that’s exactly how I try to operate!

  • Pau Esteve says:

    Oh!
    That title really got me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Improve print sales
Improve print sales

Download "Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them" (worth £19/$29) absolutely free and receive practical articles as well.

See Matthew Speak
See Matthew Speak

Effective Social Media For Print Sales People Live Workshop - Huddersfield UK, April 30
How To Raise Print Profits – Improve Your Negotiation Skills Live Workshop - Huddersfield UK, June 17
How To Sell Value Added Print Solutions Live Workshop - Huddersfield UK, Sept 23
Getting The Customer To Say Yes Live Workshop - Huddersfield UK, October 14