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#UKvUSA: How can printing companies get more work from their customers – a buyer’s perspective

Two continents: US and UK. Two different buying backgrounds: procurement and agency. Two alternative ways of looking at things. I’m delighted to have teamed up with Deborah Corn from PrintMediaCentr to bring two extremely different views to some important print questions. So welcome to Print Buying: #UKvUSA where Deborah and I share information about our experiences from both sides of the pond.

At the end of this post I have linked to Deborah’s answer to the same question. We wrote our answers (each limited to 500 words) without any idea of what the other was writing. As Deborah says: “Maybe we will agree, maybe we won’t, maybe we don’t even see the question in the same way – who knows… that’s the fun part!”

Please do leave comments, thoughts and support at the bottom of this post and on Deborah’s post.   It would be great if also posted your thoughts on Twitter, using the hashtag #UKvUSA Remember to watch out for our answers to another question next month.

#UKvUSA: How can printing companies get more work from their customers – a buyer’s perspective

Everyone knows that winning new clients is costly. It’s between seven and 12 times more cost effective to upsell an existing customer.

So how do you get more from your existing accounts? Here are five ideas. You won’t win more work unless you succeed at the first one.

1. Provide excellent customer service

No customer is going to look at placing more work with you until you provide an excellent customer experience. The trouble is that 80% of companies believe that they provide above average customer service. But only 8% of customers believe they receive above average customer service.

Nothing pushes a customer to look elsewhere more than poor customer service. Customers who really value the service they receive from their suppliers act the other way. They go out of their way to try and help their suppliers. They are happy to look at placing more work with them.

However, this will only happen if you apply the second strategy.

2. Be in the customer’s world

These days most customers are not interested in print production. Customers want suppliers who can help them with their business challenges. This is rarely about putting ink on paper better or quicker. It’s about giving customers ideas on how they can get a better return on their marketing campaigns. It’s about helping them cut costs (but not your prices). It’s about making their lives easier.

To do this effectively, it is important to get to know your customers extremely well. That’s where networking comes in.

3. Network

Often printing companies rely on a single point of contact at key customers. If that person leaves the relationship can go rapidly downhill. Smart companies go and meet as many contacts as possible at major clients.

This is a good way to find out more about a company. It’s a good way to persuade as many people as possible that they cannot do without your services. You’ll find out who else is placing print at the company and what you might be missing out on. It also gives you more people to make suggestions to. That’s the next strategy.

4. Inspire

If you want to win more work, it’s important to give clients ideas. This may be in the form of innovative print ideas. Alternatively, it may have more to do with using data creatively. Or you might inspire your clients with case studies of how you have helped other companies to improve their business results.

Your clients should realise that you can give them a constant source of useful ideas. At this point it’s time to put the final strategy into place.

5. Ask

Ask your customers for more work. Find out when they are placing the next job. Request introductions to other people in the company who are purchasing print. Ask what you should do in order to win more work.

If you carry out these five strategies, the chances are you will increase turnover at a good number of your clients.

How did Deborah tackle this question? See here.

Look out for the next #UKvUSA battle next month: “3 critical buying tasks to kick-off 2015 ”

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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