Farquharson/Tedesco on Business Development: Information DifferentiatesApril 2014
Your authors were still young-uns (OK, maybe not that young) when printing industry sales growth legend Dick Gorelick (RIP), famously said:
"The definition of knowledge has changed. Knowledge used to mean knowing how to do something. Now it means knowing where to go to get something done."
Those that bring information to the table are more valuable than those who just say, "Hey, here's my price, may I have the order?" (Kind of a lame value prop, eh?) Instead, carve out a knowledge niche or two for yourself in your marketplace, and become a "go to" resource for your clients and prospects. If you do this, you will sell more.
What kinds of information do your current and prospective clients value and how can you provide it? Consider being a:
- Technical resource. Provide technical tips, tricks and traps. There's always something to learn about our endlessly changing craft. If getting the presses to sing is your thing, tell 'em.
- Logistics resource. Be the guy or gal who can answer, "Where can I get this done?" If your contact list is a mile long, you can sing a long, long song.
- Business growth resource. Buyers of communications services want to know that what they're buying works. If you're the biz numbers type, provide metrics, sales growth stats and case studies to help your clients make the right decisions for their needs. Then, your words will be music to their ears.
- Creative resource. Here's a little secret. Sometimes creative types stare at a blank screen or paper, just like we do. If you have an uncanny ability to tie business need to content development, go ahead and kibitz in the early stages of their projects. Your clients will be happy to trumpet your name.
The part of the day that many sales pros and newbies alike hate the most is biz dev, prospecting and kicking the tires. Why? Because rejection isn't fun.
Got that toughie prospect who's the perfect fit for your company, but you can't get to the batter's box? Or, more likely, you can't even get in the stadium? Of course you do. Like every other print rep, you've got dozens of them.
Cold calling is painful, but absolutely necessary for lead generation. It's stinkin' hard to differentiate the awesomeness of me, myself, I and my dang company (that delivers on most, but not all, ahem, of our promises) in a series of voicemails. So try something different. Lead with information. How's this for an alternative to leaving seven voicemails before giving up?
- Voicemail 1: "Hey Joe, this is Slick from Bill & Ted's Excellent Printing Adventure. I saw your 196-page perfect bound cookbook giveaway. Cool project. I'm going to send you some info on the Otabind layflat adhesive binding method and reach out to you again next Thursday morning."
- Hang up and send the info.
- Thursday a.m., Voicemail 2: "Joe, Slick again from Bill & Ted's Excellent Printing Adventure. See my point about Otabind? Perfect for your cookbook giveaway application, right? Hey, I've got this white paper on giveaway effectiveness. I'm going to e-mail that to you. Please confirm receipt, have a look and I'll be back to you Monday afternoon. My phone number is (555) 555-1234."
- Hang up and e-mail the info.
- Monday a.m., Voicemail 3: "Slick following up from Bill & Ted's Excellent Printing Adventure. I'm a specialist in creating printed and electronic products that meet our clients' communication needs. I'm going to be in your area Wednesday morning and would like to drop by if that time is convenient. Again, my number is (555) 555-1234. Unless I hear otherwise from you, I'll take my chances that you're available and ask for you from your lobby."
See the difference? You've used information to differentiate yourself from 95 percent of your competitors. (You've also used some awesome sales techniques in the process, including the negative check-off, but that's not today's topic!) Will this approach work every time? Of course not; nothing does. But your batting average will be better if you choose to be an information provider instead of a cold call dialing machine.
Yeah, we know you're a sales pro, but there's also a self-marketing angle to this information provider thing. There's no reason why you can't package your knowledge and distribute it to your current and prospective database on a regular basis.
Easier said than done, some of you wisenheimers are surely thinking.
Wisenheimer objection #1: I don't have time to write articles, columns and books like you two talking heads.
Our response: Marketing yourself is part of the gig!
Self-marketing has never been easier. Ever hear of a blog? Newsletter? How about e-mail for gosh sake? Today's tools to position yourself as an information expert are easy! Anyone can do it. Sharing useful links and providing good commentary might be all it takes to make someone's day.
Well, that's it for now. Join us next month for part two on this topic, which will include Wisenheimer objection #2 and storytelling is awesome information, too. PI
About the Authors
T.J. Tedesco is team leader at Grow Sales Inc., a marketing and PR services company that has served graphic arts companies since 1996. He wrote "Direct Mail Pal 2012" and seven other books. Contact Tedesco at (301) 294-9900 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Bill Farquharson is a vice president at NAPL. Farquharson can help drive your sales. Visit www.aspirefor.com or call him at (781) 934-7036.