Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The most powerful selling tool for printers is still face-to-face contact with the customer. Mailings and social media are need to soften the customer and turn a cold call into a warm sales call. They help build a relationship with the customer so he is more open to discussing moving his business. The technology tools are used to build a relationship. The personal call is used to discuss specific benefits of using the printer and close the deal.
To be successful, a printer must change the face-to-face discussion from being about the cost of the printing to being about the value of the printing’s results to the customer. Printers can learn a lot about a customer’s needs if they just start having a conversation about the customer’s business.
The real issue in the relationship between the printer and the customer isn’t how cheap then printer can sell the customer a product. It is about how much revenue can the customer gain from using the right communication tools. Printers must get the discussion away from pennies per impression to dollars gained in sales from using the printed material. If a new customer means thousands of dollars additional revenue to the printing buyer that price of the printing becomes less of an objection. Printers have to focus on the results of the printing rather than the costs.
When printers start having a conversation about a customer's sales needs, they can uncover hundreds of print and communication opportunities. Does a customer have the print collateral to support the web site? Are QR codes used to drive customers to the Internet? Is mobile marketing available? Is mailing being done to push customers to the web? Each of those questions should lead to answers that include print solutions. A customer doesn't know what he needs until the printer explains the possibilities.
The benefit a printer offers a prospect shouldn't be how much money the prospect will save. It should be that the printed material and distribution will help a customer get more leads that can result in additional sales. Talk to your customers about how they get their leads and how they are attempting to increase sales and you will find a number of products and services they need to buy from you.
Monday, October 3, 2011
The way people communicate in business is changing and one big change is how people react to email. In today’s business world, people are responding faster to email inquiries as opposed to telephone voice messages. Printers need to review how they are communicating with their current customers and prospects and whether or not they need to change their procedures.
Several LinkedIn discussion groups have discussed how email is changing how the sales people are reaching customers. You may want to consider email as part of your approach to gaining leads and follow ups on estimates and quotes. Because of email, customers are expecting estimates in hours. Printers should be following up on estimates within hours since decisions are now being made faster because of email.
One procedure every printer should practice is getting the customer’s email address when getting contact information. Not only will you want email addresses to contact customers about their orders, but you will also want the address so you can start emailing newsletters and other important information. Email newsletters should complement the printed newsletter because different customers will want the information in different ways. You will want to make sure that you have permission to use a customer’s email address for your newsletter and other marketing material.
Texting is fast becoming a common way to reach customers. Experts predict businesses can soon expect the majority of contact with customers be via text messaging. Younger customers already response quicker to a text message than an email or a telephone call. Printers will have to start learning more about Short Message Service (SMS). SMS is a text messaging service component of phone, web, or mobile communication systems that allow the exchange of short text messages between fixed line or mobile phone devices. You can text message from your phone or from a computer.
You may want to start asking customers what is the best way to reach them: telephone, email or text message. It will be cumbersome in the beginning, but as more younger print buyers start using your services, you will need to be able to easily contact them.