How Asking for a Quote Can Reduce Profits for Printing Companies

I made a big mistake in my last PI World blog
Two weeks ago I wrote a piece on why social media is all about engagement. After I wrote it, I realized that I had missed an important point.

I stand by everything I wrote. However, I did miss out an important issue. I only wrote about the online world. I had neglected to think about face-to-face or phone sales. That was an error.

What I had written was just as applicable to off-line selling
I have often felt that salespeople are on a game of numbers. Many people have said to me that if you throw enough mud, some of it will stick. Equally, if you phone enough prospects, some of them will buy. However, if someone is going to buy they will need a quote.

Therefore, many salespeople rush through the phone call. Their main aim is to get me to give them a quote as quickly as possible. As soon as they give me a quote I am in a position to make a buying decision. More quotes mean more chances of a sale.

But if salespeople move so quickly, they are making a big mistake.

If you ask me for a quote too quickly, I am not yet engaged with your company
That leads to three issues. Firstly, if I’m not engaged with your company my buying decision will be based solely on price. The only reason why I would consider you as a supplier is if you come in cheaper than the competition.

Secondly, if I have chosen on price I will have no loyalty towards you. If I move work to you because you are cheaper then there is little chance of a long-term relationship. That’s because I’ll be off to another supplier if they undercut you.

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  • Tom Plain

    These are good thoughts Matthew. Thank you for sharing. My mentor used to say, Know how to get rid of a print salesman? Give him something to quote. I always rather be answering the question "Can you do?" not "How much is?"

  • PrintChampion

    Thanks for your comments Tom – you are so right!

  • Vinod Nawab

    In India, this emotional attachment (engage) prevails over other attributes, definitely price is important among all.

  • Jay Poko

    Good thoughts Matthew. It goes back to engaging and listening. Don’t position yourself as another spec taking hack. Let the prospect get to know you. Show them you care about them and their customers. But you better be honest or you’re through.

  • thom adams

    Mathew, I agree with all you say here and I think there are other good reasons NOT to ask to quote too soon. I always wanted pricing to be the last topic ever discussed, for the simple reason that I refused to sell on price. There were hungrier competitors willing to work for nothing (or the chance to re-work specs later), and I valued myself and company on a different level. If the prospect mentioned price too soon (in the relationship building process) I would say something like “I/we would never let pricing get in the way of our doing business together”, thereby vaguely assuring them that I was selling quality and a value added service opposed to a commodity.

    It also helped secure my margins if we later did business because the product was not sold on price. It takes time to evaluate (qualify) the customer, which to some sounds arrogant… but is effective in gaining and having control over the territory. Exclusivity sells subliminally, even when they say it doesn’t.

    IMHO one cannot afford to let the tail wag the dog, even if it means passing on the prospect whom you’ve ascertained just wants to use you for a low-ball price.