Many of the printers I work with on a daily basis are reporting increased customer activity as schools start around the country. It is always good to hear about a bump in business, but it doesn’t overshadow the news of the demise of other printers. Printers continue to close their doors because they just don’t have enough business. There is still printing to be had out there, but you have to work harder to get it.
One basic task that will help quick printers survive is having sales activities. Customers need to know where you are and what you do. The only way that will happen is if you tell them. Printers have to get on the telephone and out of their offices to ask customers for their printing business.
How many sales calls are you making a day? A printer could increase sales if he would just call customers about reprinting the jobs that the printer already has on file for the customer. Most printers use computerized pricing programs that have a built-in tickler file. When you enter the original order, the CSR puts in an expected repeat date. The printer can then run a weekly or monthly report about what jobs are due to be reprinted. Printers I work with report that almost 20% of their sales volume comes from repeating work from existing customers. The regular call also uncovers things about the customer that the printer needs to know to keep the business. Making regular calls can let a printer find out if a print buyer has changed or if any other changes have happened with the customer. Printers who are sitting back and waiting for the customer to call them are waiting and waiting.
The same thing holds true with estimates and quotes. Printers constantly provide customers and prospects with prices. Successful printers follow up on the estimates and quotes to find out if they have the job. The calls also allow a printer to find out why he didn’t get a job. How many estimates do you have sitting in your computer right now?
Not only are these tasks simple, they give you a reason to call the customer. Study after study shows that most companies lose customers to inattention. If you aren’t reaching out and touching your customers on a regular basis, they may end up taking their business somewhere else. You want to be the first printer a company thinks about when they have a printing job to order.
The computer also has other good sales information. Have you compared your top 25 customers this year to the top 25 customers last year? Have you looked at who is buying more? Have you looked to see who is buying less? This list will show you which customers you need to be talking to and with who you may have to rebuild a relationship.
Printers have a ton of information on their computer that will make them money. The only thing a computer can’t do is make the call to the customer. Owners who make the call are going to be the ones who are still standing when the economy turns around.
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