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Print industry predictions part 7: selling print remains depressingly similar

The printing industry is often not good at selling

Many printing companies seem to offer nothing more exciting than good service, good quality and cheap prices. There is a relentless focus on machines and processes that buyers just don’t care about. The average website is uninspiring with pictures of printing presses and nothing to interest a prospect. The average conversation or sales letter or e-mail is generally just a request for a quote.

The printing industry has often relied on one sales strategy.

Let’s deal with the myth of the book of business

Sales people often recruited because everyone hopes that they will bring all their business with them. There are quite a few issues with this strategy. Firstly, many customers don’t follow a rep: they stay with a company they know and trust. But there’s a bigger issue with the idea that sales people take their business with them.

Looking after a book of business means that the focus is looking after the customer not hunting the prospect. Sales people often don’t know what to do when they have to go out and find new prospects and sell to them.

Sales remains unimaginative

It’s not just the messaging: it’s the channels as well. Most people only use phone and e-mail. Go back and read my first prediction if you want to know what is going to happen to e-mail! The more imaginative companies might use direct mail, events or a bit of social media.

But mention Signal and Telegram as sales channels and expect to receive blank looks. Even a multi-channel campaign that many printing companies produce for clients is a rare sales approach.

There are exceptions

Some companies are much more imaginative and have great campaigns and results. However, we really should doing better. The printing industry has so much creativity and great tools. But they are all used for clients and not for sales.

If we want print to thrive, we need to persuade more people to use it. Most sales activities don’t champion how print can help customers or shout about the great results we can achieve.

Sadly, I don’t see this changing

In 10 years, I think sales will still be largely the same. We will still see the same dull, uninspiring messages and approaches. But it will be harder and harder to win jobs because prospects won’t want to work in the same way as the sales people.

I hope I am wrong.

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