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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

Customized Follow-ups Can Grow Your Sales

For the last two weeks, FEI sales leader Zoot has given young salesman Ganymede tips for “getting past the gatekeeper” when cold calling. This week, the sales guru focuses on creating customized post-sales-call communications. Remember, fire = print.

One pleasant Sunday afternoon, Zoot and Ganymede were golfing at Panayouda Pines, a renowned Olympian course. At the third tee, Zoot watched his protégé slice his ball into the woods.

“Know what your problem is?” Zoot asked. “You don’t follow through. That’s why you keep slicing your shots...and your sales activities fall victim to the same bad habits.”

The remark took Ganymede by surprise. “What do you mean?”

Zoot removed his best driver from his monogrammed, jewel-encrusted bag and took a few practice swings. “How do you usually follow up after a sales meeting?” he asked.

“Sometimes I send the prospect a standard FEI packet or letter,” Ganymede said. “Admittedly, other times I fail to follow up at all.”

Zoot shook his head. “Your customers receive a barrage of marketing messages every day. Do you really think generic follow-up materials will help you rise above the clutter?”

“When you put it that way...” Ganymede said sadly.

“Don’t despair,” Zoot continued. “Compelling personalization can help you stand out on this crowded playing field. Let me explain you how it works. What was your most recent sales call?”

“On Friday afternoon, I called on Hyperion from Hyperion Discount Togas,” Ganymede answered.

“And did you take notes during your meeting?” Zoot enquired.

“Of course.” Ganymede reached into his golf toga and pulled out a few scraps of paper. “Hyperion’s favorite sport is mermaid fishing, and he has a daughter named Aura. His number one buying objection is price—surprise, surprise. Right now, Pyro’s torches light his stores. Hyperion acknowledges Pyro’s quality isn’t the best, but he loves the low prices. He’d consider trying out another fire supplier, but they’d need to offer him a cost-sensitive option.”

“You have all the information you need to create a compelling personalized piece,” Zoot said. “Hand me a sheet of paper and a coal to write with, please.”

After a few minutes of scribbling, Zoot gave Ganymede the paper back. It read:

Dear Hyperion,

Great meeting with you last Friday. Caught any mermaids lately? Hard to do it when your torches go out, right? What’s the cost of a lost mermaid? A lot more than a few drachmas for better torches, right?

I know you need a fairly priced, cost-effective fire solution. That’s why I’m offering you our best-value torch and match package. Total cost of ownership is less than any of our competitors. We guarantee our products’ performance. Do the other guys do that? May I have your fire business?

“Work this content, or something like it, into an attractive four-page brochure,” Zoot explained. “Once you’ve perfected a template, you’ll be able to quickly insert personalization and place a compelling communication into the hands of Hyperion and other prospects.”

“This is brilliant!” Ganymede raved.

“Personalized follow-up materials show you’ve put the time and effort into differentiating yourself and FEI,” Zoot said. “More importantly, they can directly address the prospect’s chief buying concerns.”

On Monday, Ganymede mailed several customized “O-to-O” brochures to prospects with whom he’d recently met. Just a few days later, he got a call from Hyperion.

“Boy, I just got your brochure,” said Hyperion (who inexplicably spoke with a Southern accent). “I tell ya, I get a lot of stuff flying across my desk, so it was nice to see something that actually addressed me and my needs personally. Let’s take another meeting and see if we can work something out.”

A week later, the notoriously frugal Hyperion had dropped low-baller Pyro for FEI. You can’t put a price on knowing you’ve been heard and understood.

FIRE! Point
Your customers receive a barrage of marketing messages every day—just as you do. Use compelling personalization to stand out on such a crowded playing field. Take notes during your sales meetings to ensure you have the information necessary to create customization. Consider creating a brochure template that allows you to quickly insert customization and get a follow-up piece in your prospects’ hands.

FIRE! in Action: Quantum Group Secures New Business with Customized Sales Materials
The print and marketing solutions company used a personalized book as part of a campaign that generated an 11-percent response rate, 18 new proposals, and several new sales (case study PDF).

Next week: Zoot gives Ganymede another tip for creating personalized materials to follow up on sales calls.

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