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Prepare Before Cold-Calling –Dana

April 2011

Could there be a tougher job for print reps these days  than cold-calling? I think not. Technology lets us screen calls and, like it or not, lots of print buyers are screening yours. This is efficient (for them) and frustrating (for you). It doesn't mean your calls won't be returned—just that you'd better leave something memorable in your voice mail.

There's no perfect recipe for the perfect printing sales pitch. Sometimes it's luck: they happen to need what you're selling now. Or they're in a good mood and have time to chat. Something tells me this is rare.

Imagine that you're a print buyer in a corporation or agency. You're working on multiple jobs, all at different stages. Some are critical; some, not. Your role keeps changing (i.e., expanding). You're pushed by marketing and management to work miracles with small budgets. You're expected to deliver printed perfection, "first time, every time." You're loyal to a small group of providers who know you well and are, literally, at your beck and call. And several times a week, random printers call you up with their pitch.

Print buyers have different motivations. They have different criteria for choosing printers and for switching to new ones (hey, good idea for another blog post). So, when you're calling prospects, don't presume a one-size phone call fits all.

Following are some tips to help you make better sales calls to prospects, no matter who they are or what they need.

Do your research first. Find out what you can about the prospect's company and industry before calling. Visit the company Website to get some idea of what they do and how your offerings relate (if it's not obvious). If it's a small firm, can you drill down on the site to see staff members? I'd check this section out.

I'd also look at the Careers section just to see what sorts of jobs are posted. What if you saw one or more print production/design positions posted? What would you make of that? What if you saw lots of openings for social media experts? Is the firm growing, or did they lose staff recently? How do you think it affects the print buyer you're about to phone?



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