Monday, June 14, 2010

Listen before you sell

Quick printers have a lot of technology at their fingertips, but it isn’t worth much unless customers need it. PDF files can automate the workflow, but printers don’t tell customers the benefits or how to use it. Online ordering is easy to provide customers, but how is a customer suppose to learn about it? Printers buy technology because they think it will increase their sales. When it doesn’t, the printer is disappointed and disenchanted with technology.

The problem is that printers aren't listening to their customers. Printers are just telling them about technology and hope the cutomer is interested. They should be trying to find out what their customers need and what they want. The printer must find out the benefits the customer is seeking from a printer.

To be successful, printers are going to have to improve their listening skills. I’ve been helping a number of quick printers dissect their sales call and the recurring problem is that the printer used the first sales call to talk about his company and not find out the needs of the customer. The printer is so afraid that he won’t get the chance to talk to the customer again he hits the customer with everything he has. This leaves the customer confused and the printer looking like, well, just another printer.

Cool technology will get you in the door. Statements such as “we can make your ordering easier using the internet” or “we can help you avoid problems submitting your files” can get you in the door. Once you get there, you need to just listen. Ask questions. Find out what the customer needs. Find out his pain. Asking questions and listening will help you build a solid foundation for the relationship.

The standard practice of many printing sales people is to list what they do and hope the customer has a need. If you will take time to learn about the customer, then you can begin using your experience to solve problems and offer benefits for using your company. Don’t start selling until the second appointment when you know something about the customer and really can help them with their printing needs.