Five Things I Want Printers to Hear
As an Association Professional, I am dealing with business owners and their employees every day. I hear their hopes and fears, triumphs and woes. Also their coulds, shoulds, and woulds. I am often asked how belonging to the association will bring them more business.
No, I’m not going to go out and directly sell for you, but OK - I believe you get what you give. Here are a few basics I want to remind businesses to DO.
1. Tell people what you do...OFTEN!
Our industry is so visual, yet we forget that our customer’s often don’t know what they don’t know. Shout it out utilizing much of what is FREE already!
• Make sure your website is regularly updated—not equipment lists, but products your produce (buyers don’t really care what you print on, just that you do it well).
• Use social media—quit trying to figure out WHY and just do it.
• Marketing—for goodness sake, print a few things with your image, your staff, and your mantra on them. Show buyers you care enough about YOUR image and that will translate into you caring about theirs.
• Make sure your top PR people (i.e., your STAFF) buy into your sales message. Use the language with them that you want them using with your customers. People repeat what they hear.
2. Get in the know, and stay there.
Working under a rock doesn’t inspire new thought or innovation nor encourage your staff to do so either. Go to conferences, utilize online and association resources, ask questions and write down the answers on a large piece of paper. And don’t keep what your learn to yourself—share these answers with your internal peers and employees! It’s not rocket science, but use your time improving instead of re-digging for artifacts you already have.
3. Salespeople DON’T need to be from the industry.
Seriously? Smart, savvy salespeople can learn an industry. You want someone who gets relationships, has the ability to communicate externally and internally, and is adept at closing deals. We have so many resources to share that can help someone learn the lingo, and if you have a team environment within, anyone can become expert enough in print and the other services you offer.
4. Train your salespeople, OFTEN.
Really, I am amazed at how many firms just expect their salespeople to not only maintain and grow their customer bases, but also adjust to the new technology, lingo and competitive environment out there WITHOUT thinking they should support them!
• Have your salespeople take courses or bring in speakers that inspire new business ideas.
• Excite them about existing and new technology by sharing the potential and removing fears it will ruin their current book of business—ergo, their income potential.
• Don’t make sales meetings a painful experience. Use the time to pump up the positive and build on that. Case studies from within and outside your company (which we can provide) are great tools for training.
5. Love they enemy...aka NETWORK!
Don’t think your competitors know what you do? Yeah, right. Have you looked on your website lately? Your customers have, your potential customers have, YOUR COMPETITION HAS.
Instead of thinking that, if you talk with your fellow graphic communication firms, you’ll lose business, consider the possibilities! Shared pains, successes, potential partnerships and future opportunities.
The most profitable companies spend the time to be involved with their peers. Associations offer the chance to expand your network locally and nationally. What worked in Mississippi might just work in Las Vegas. Want to make a bet?
For what it’s worth, associations are here to tell you what you want to hear, and sometimes what you don’t want to hear. All I request is that you listen, ask questions, and try something new once in awhile. Our goal is to help create a successful industry, region and businesses, one member at a time.