Tuesday, November 15, 2011

When Did You Make Your Last Sales Call?

You notice a pattern when you ask successful printers why they are having success in this down economy. Almost every one of them attributes their success to making sales calls. They get out from behind their front counter and go out and see customers on a daily basis.

In most cases, the owner is the sales person and he or she is the one who is visiting their top 25 customers and top prospects. They may have sales people working for them, but they have those sales people doing the same sales activities.

Why are successful printers out selling? It is because they know they will eventually lose some of their top customers so they are always working to replace them. Sure they call on their top customers to keep that business, but the majority of the successful printer’s efforts is in calling on prospects. They are looking for prospects who can become significant customers providing them with at least $1,000 a month in sales.

Some not so successful owners complain they don’t have time to get outside the shop and sell because they are too busy producing the work for customers who walk in the door. Where would time be better served? Producing a $50 copier order or making a sales call on a prospect with $50,000 in printing per year?

CPrint President Todd Nuckols always says that most printers don’t have a sales problem. He says they have a production problem. They haven’t organized to get the work out so they are stuck doing production rather than selling.

The first step in correcting this problem is putting someone in charge of production and getting out and making sales calls. An owner should be spending the majority of his or her day telling customers about the benefits of using them and then asking for the sale.

The industry has changed. If you aren’t out asking for the business you won’t survive. People don’t walk into print shops any more with big accounts. You have to go where the printing is and that is at the customer’s office.

If you are a print owner, you need to stop what you are doing in the shop and turn it over to one of your employees and go make a call on a potential customer. It could be the first step in insuring you have a future in this industry.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

CPrint Affiliates Beating National Sales Growth Averages

CPrint International affiliates’ 2011 sales growth over 2010 is beating the national average when compared to the latest NAPL report.. According to Todd Nuckols, president of CPrint, 64% of CPrinters in the national board program are turning in an average sales gain of 16% this year. Previously NAPL reported that sales for quick and small commercial printers overall are expected to be relatively flat (-0.3%) for all of 2011.

“CPrint affiliates are affected by the downturn in the economy,” said Nuckols, “but they are adding new services and increasing sales activities to drive more sales. Many have shifted their sales efforts from commodity-type printing to marketing and printing and have integrated web services to increase their sales of collateral printing.

Because of CPrint’s emphasis on current financial information, the affiliates can manage their financial strength to take advantage of new opportunities. The sales growth is tied to the company’s overall profitability. We are not only seeing increases in sales numbers, but increases in company profits.”

According to the NAPL report, less than 40% of those quick and small commercial printers surveyed now expect their business to grow this year, still higher than the 31.6% who expect sales to decline, but down sharply from a few months ago.

“We’re seeing optimism within CPrint,” said Nuckols. “By keeping a close eye on the financial situation, CPrint affiliates are better prepared to deal with the outside influences that affect costs. This allows them to concentrate on learning about new products and services to sell and getting in front of customers and selling.
“By no means has 2011 been an easy year for our affiliates,” said Nuckols. “The affiliates have the same pressures of direct material, payroll and overhead costs others have, but they are actively managing these areas. The combination of financial management and selling activities are the main reason for having growth while competitors falter.”

If you are a printer and want to find out more about joining the CPrint organization, visit www.cprint.com.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

QR Codes Do Work

There are a number of discussions online among printers that QR codes don’t work. Some say they are just a fad. Among the reasons these printers believe QR “fail” give are, “None of my customers know what QR codes are” and “My customer used it once and they didn’t get any additional business.” Another argument for QR failing is, “My customers have never asked for them.”

I can only conclude that the printers who are promoting the failure of QR codes have never made a sales call to explain QR codes to their customers and they are ignoring the QR codes popping up all around them. Pick up any national magazine or paper and you see QR codes. Go to the local grocery story, restaurant chain or national home repair store such as Home Depot and look at the QR codes scattered throughout. It is hard to believe that some printers don’t think QR codes are gaining traction in the marketplace.

QR code projects do fail because the person using the code used it incorrectly. QR codes need to send viewers to web sites where the customer can be interactive with the customer. Just sending a person to a desktop site that is reduced down to 2 point type on a smartphone isn’t going to lead to a good buying experience. QR codes need to send viewers to videos that educate and inform. The viewers need to go to sites where they can get coupons, directions, or easily make contact with the QR code creators. There are infinite uses. It is up to the printer to explain those uses to a customer so they will be used correctly.

But that requires the printer getting out from behind their counter and making a sales call. It requires a printer to have a smartphone and demonstrate the different ways QR codes can be used. It also requires a printer to understand mobile sites and be able to provide the technical support needed for a customer to have a mobile presence.

QR codes are successful. The QR codes don’t fail to take a viewer to a site. The failure is that the QR code creator sends the viewer to the wrong site where there isn’t any value for the user. 

Want to increase your sales? Make a sales call and tell your customers about QR codes. This gives the print buyer the reason to reprint their marketing print collateral with QR codes today. Think of how many leads the customer might be losing without the QR code sending the viewer to additional information to help turn the prospect into a customer.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Printers Need To Evolve

There are a lot of printers going out of business or about to go out of business because they can’t change their business model. Customers no longer walk in and ask for something to be duplicated. The day of commodity printing is over. People no longer need forms to collect information. It is now done on a computer. What print customers now need is help in finding the best way to communicate their message with their customer. The answer isn’t always ink on paper.

A recent report by John Stewart for the National Association of Quick Printers found that the average age of a print shop owner was in the mid-50s. They opened their business when making a copy required expensive equipment. Today, everyone has a copier attached to their home and business computer. The print services people are buying have changed. Those services aren’t best served by having a walk-in location in a high traffic area.

Printers need to add new services that take advantage of the Internet. One area would be content development for electronic media. Adobe and Quark have released new software will help printers and designers turn their InDesign and Quark files into documents and apps that can be read on iPads, tablets and smartphones. If the major page layout software developers are taking their businesses into a new electronic direction, printers might want to follow. Adobe has also introduced a line of apps to create content on tablets including a Photoshop type of app. If printers are going to survive and compete they must now learn how to create content that will work in environments other than on paper.

Website development, mobile marketing, QR codes and other Internet related products can be integrated with print to make a message stronger. Printers will have to learn about and provide these services in some way if they expect to compete in the new electronic communications world.

Printers don’t have to go out of business. They need to evolve their business. That evolution needs to begin today.