How to Land an Appointment with a Marketing Manager

Before I went to work in the printing industry, I was a marketing manager. Now that I manage the marketing and sales departments of a printer, I hear sob stories about how hard it is to get appointments with marketing directors. I’ve dusted off my “private sector” marketing hat to help print sales reps gain appointments with that magical marketing person.

Here’s what I’d say to reps after they’ve asked me for an appointment:

To Sales Rep #1:

I could tell you were surprised that I didn’t let you set an appointment with me. Here’s why:

1) You didn’t give me a reason to say “no” to someone else so I could say “yes” to you. I already have a printer. I know what printed pieces look like. I’m perfectly happy with what I have already.

2) The list of equipment you rattled off means nothing to me. They’re metal boxes just like everyone else’s. I don’t care if someone knits my mailers with their teeth as long as they look good and go out on time. Really.

3) You didn’t ask me one meaningful question. “Would you like to see my digital color samples?” is not a meaningful question. You didn’t ask if I was busy when you called. You interrupted me in the middle of a busy day, and barely told me your name before launching into your pitch.

4) I get a dozen calls a week from printers. Most of you sound alike—desperate and pushy. Go away.

To Sales Rep #2:

You had me at “Hello…” You pronounced my name correctly and introduced yourself like a human being, not a sales shark. You asked if I could spare a couple of minutes before speeding on. Nicely done, but our ensuing conversations are why I wanted to see you.

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  • john

    Wow.. another article on why printers are sooo hapless and marketing directors are soooo sophisticated.

    To be clear, I agree that the better educated print reps will still continue to get the appointments they ask for. Darwin is and always has been at work in the sales process- so this article is no revelation. In fact, it’s downright demeaning and insulting.
    The marketing director wants all the education and information- and from this article’s point of view- it comes without regard to any commitment on business. In other words, dance like a trick pony for the chance to "bid"

    I’m sad to read these blogs, because they all end the same way. Lectures, lectures, lectures.. How about an article that says the print company brings tremendous value to the table. Most of us realize that moving up in the decision making process is a key to success, but we also realize that offering free education, dashboards, analytics, etc for the chance to land on your bid list is of no value! By the way, I know of thousands of "marketing directors’ who are out of job, but I know very few few truly great print salespeople who kill for their customers being unemployed- even in the worst of economies.

    Shame on you Printing Impressions for allowing such rubbish to be published. You belittle our profession by allowing such poorly written trite to be published. And, by the way, shame on me for continually reading these blogs in the hope that one of these "sales and marketing" writers will actually ever write anything of value. Instead, they use fear and intimidation to gain business. Try making a few phone calls- then talk to me.

  • sirspeedyAusDT

    This was great! I will be referring to this in the future. Thanks! Ann

  • JPA

    I agree with john that the article was not written in a very respectful way but understand the point you were attempting to be make. Unfortunately, condescension rarely evokes a positive response from people. That being said, the article makes some good points which are useful and make sense. In fact i have some clients who would respond favorable to the approach of sales person #2. My question is, where can I find a printing company that can deliver that level of sophisticated service, one that can talk the talk, and then, walk the walk? I’ve got some clients who might be interested!

  • Bill Farquharson

    I speak with Print Buyers who roll their eyes when they talk of the approach that some printing sales reps use. Printing sales reps, in turn, complain about rude Buyers hanging up on them and not returning their multiple voicemail messages. Ditto for the interaction between Marketing Directors or Agencies and the reps. There is plenty of blame to go around.

    Our ghost blogger’s intent was not to wag a finger in our direction but rather to point out his/her preferred method of approach. I suggest that you take it as advice and not condemnation or lecture. We need Printing Impressions to give voice to such comments even if it is, at times, disagreeable to us or a bitter pill to swallow. We need advice and ideas for breaking through and getting the prospects attention. We need discussion and interaction so that we can bring the kind of value that John mentions despite the many roadblocks today’s print sales rep faces.

    Yes, there are Marketing Directors who take, take, take. Yes, there are Buyers who listen to your idea and then give it to your competition to produce. But there are also those who are loyal and rewarding of good ideas. And there are also those who take the time to offer suggestions in an attempt to be of help.

    One such Buyer told me he receives 60 voice mail messages a day. 60! If I were being bombarded with that kind of volume, I, too, would want to hand out advice as to the best way to get my attention.

    And I would hope that my efforts in this regard would be received as an attempt to be helpful and not simply my being superior.

  • Ann Bublitz

    I think we all (we, meaning print sales reps) need to be reminded that no matter how long we have been in the business, that when we call a prospect we always need to offer something of value. The blog simply shows two opposite ends of the spectrum that sales reps can slip back to if they’re not careful and where they need to be.

  • Kelly Mallozzi

    In the 15 years that I sold printing i came across many a difficult prospect or customer. I was also blessed with some of the best customers in the world. It takes all kinds of people to make the world go around, but the one thing I always demand in my relationships is respect. I will walk away from any situation in which I preceive that a person behaves without respect for all the players. that being said, I found it to be true that the more informed I was and the more I worked on differentiation and adding value, the more successful I was. So the reason that some of these fundamental truths start to sound repetitive is that they work. And all of us in the sales support industry keep repeating them in the hopes that we will continue to reach more people and help more people succeed. Many thanks to all the writers who contribute to these blogs, and to the thousands of readers out there. Sometimes we feel like we are shouting into the abyss, so when we can engage in respectful discourse, we all win. But I want to say I’m sorry to the blogger who spent time and energy on this piece that some folks do not subscribe to the respect policy. Please keep up the good work!

  • Dosso Mebeti

    This article is a bit rude isn’t it? Wow.My feeling is that no matter how competent you are,be humble.What you are saying in this article may be true in America or Europe,but it doesn’t work in Africa.There is a different approach here(weast africa).Marketing Managers deal with printers they know,either personally or through someone else(their boss,a friend,a relative…).Once they order from this printer,they won’t give you a chance,no matter how excellent you are.Moreover,the choosen printers they work with give them something in return.It makes it very difficult to have an appointment with a marketing manager because he doesn’t want you to convince him(his mouth is already full,lol).If you are lucky to have his attention for five minutes,tell him first what he ‘ll get in return and then after that,start talking about quality or extra value.This is how it works here.Bribe the Marketing Manager or the Purchasing Manager,you’ll get orders!It works in every sector of our economy.

  • Kevin

    wow, the readers here are so sensitive to tone.

  • Brent Clarke

    One important thing I took home from Kelly’s blog is that Sales is tough business. This blog reminds me that its tough selling commodity based products, its tough selling custom products and I think its even tougher when you are selling something that is perceived as a commodity but often requires some customization (like print). Its not only tough to get new accounts, (especially decent ones) but its almost as tough to keep your accounts once you work like crazy just to get that first opportunity. Then we invest (time, money and soul) to get close to them from a sales view point and sometimes someone throws a curve ball and you are completely out of the game for no fault of our own. (Note:I’m not trying to be insulting but some times I find that knowing you aren’t alone helps you get up and dust yourself off) For me that’s almost every day. But I also know I personally need to be reminded from time to time to stay out of the clutches of what is sometimes old habits that can fail me and for this I’m grateful.

  • “Today’s” Print Rep

    I think the responses to these blog posts are just driving the point home…traditional print sales is dead! Sadly, that means most of the industry. For those of us reps that seize the opportunity, its a perfect climate to grow your business and take business from stagnant reps, unwilling to change in this new sales world. All you have to do is be different. The truth is, to win business and not be the cheapest you have to engage the marketing manager and ask about things THEY care about. Equipment lists and samples never impressed anyone with influence in my 9 years in the industry and they never will. I was fortunate not to grow up in the industry and figured that out quickly. Reps (as well as owners) need to wake up to the new reality that what you care about isn’t what your customer cares about. Everyone has access to anything they need without ever talking to a sales rep and its up to us create the demand for change.

    Personally, I enjoy these blog posts. I’m going to take this information and turn them into questions and emails and letters and continue to call on prospects where the print relationship is with the buyer. I’m sure I will still get plenty of no’s and non-returned calls, but I know that’s my best chance for success!