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3 features printing companies should avoid in a sales approach

What would you do to attract the perfect partner?

Imagine that you are single. Imagine that you are at a party or an event. Across the room you see someone that you really like the look of. Someone that you’d like to get to know better.

How would you stand out? How would you make yourself as attractive as possible to that person?

Attracting a printing customer is a bit like dating


How do you attract the perfect customer?

You want to stand out to your prospect. You want to seem irresistible to them! You want to be the perfect partner of their choice.

Unfortunately, it’s rarely turns out like this. Over my many years as a print buyer I have been on the receiving end of over 1,400 sales pitches from printing companies. Whilst a number of them turned out to be great partners, few of them stood out on the first meeting. In fact, it took a fair bit of work from me to get to the point where we wanted to date.

Most of the sales pitches that I have received suffer from one major problem.

98% of printing sales approaches sound pretty much the same

It is often very difficult to distinguish one printing company from another if one compares sales messages. Many of them feature exactly the same reasons as to why I should use the company as my supplier.

Naturally, if everyone sounds the same, I only have one variable on which to base my purchasing decision. That’s variable is price.

So what are the three key elements that appear in nearly all sales messages from printing companies? Here’s the first one:

Printing companies nearly always tell me they provide great service

I have covered my thoughts on selling on service before. Exceptional customer service is the key to retaining clients. However, it’s not a great way to attract new ones.

The reason for this is that good service is taken as a given by buyers. We expect all our suppliers to have great service. If they don’t, we won’t be working with them for very long.

However, many printing companies insist in using service as one of their key selling features. And there is another element that features in nearly all sales messages.

Printing companies nearly always tell me they offer superb quality

Quality is another element that is automatically expected by buyers. If you are a printing company, we expect you to be good at putting ink on substrate.

It is true that some companies are better at this than others. However, the majority of buyers are perfectly satisfied with good quality commercial print. The opportunity to improve print quality by a small margin is not going to get them racing to change suppliers.

Naturally, this situation changes if you are dealing with buyers that feature high-quality fashion or fine art items. Luxury goods brochures are also an exception. But the average magazine or direct mailing piece does not require exceptional print quality.

Here’s another way in which many sales messages from printing company is sound the same.

Many printers tell me they offer competitive pricing

Buyers are always pleased to hear that a potential supplier is not going to be expensive! Nevertheless, it has always seemed strange to me that so many companies lead on price. If you engage me first, price may not become less of an issue.

So what should you do about this?

Here’s an example of a very powerful sales approach I received

I was working at a publishing company. The first line from this printing company was “Hello Matthew, we are a printing company that do not want to print your magazines”. That certainly made them stand out from most other approaches that I received!

They went on to tell me that they knew we had a good subscription business. They specialised in producing subscription solutions. They wanted to meet me to show me how they could reduce my subscription costs and improve the response from my letters.

They quickly won a meeting from me as also won some work. Their sales message made them stand out. I understood that this was a printing company that looked for particular types of buyers. They understood the issues that I might face with my subscription business and offered a solution to them. These solutions made them stand out from the competition.

Here are three things to do if you want to stand out like this company

  • Review your current sales message. Does it focus on any of the three elements that I have covered: service, quality or price?
  • Choose a current customer. Make sure that there are other companies like this customer. Also, make sure that you want more customers like this one. Interview the customer to find out why they are using you. You will find useful material to create a sales message from this.
  • Sign up below to receive my Views From The Buyer selling hints. You will also receive a free copy of a free copy of “10 Common Print Selling Errors And What To Do About Them”.

Remember the person you liked the look of?

How would you feel if you had looked and acted exactly the same way as everyone else? How would you feel if that person had chosen to spend their time with someone else? Don’t let your sales message have the same effect on your print prospects.
P.S. Download more advice for effective print sales – written by a print buyer. You’ll also receive a free copy of my e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them” (worth £19/$29)

Download your free copy of “Ten Common Print Selling Errors And What To Do About Them” (worth £19/$29) right now


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