How to Get a Prospect on the Line

(Blog #10 in the ongoing series derived from a book Harris DeWese wrote several years ago—“A Year of Selling Profitably.” The book was written for printers to use as a guide in training their sales teams through a series of two-hour sessions over 48 weeks.)

Printing companies are like thumbprints—no two are alike, ever. This applies to equipment, staffing, financing and certainly to selling.

Salespeople try new account development with very different efforts. Some work on new accounts several hours every day. Others might invest half of a day one day each week.

Prospecting differs depending on the type of company that you represent. Obviously, new account development will be much different if you sell for a small sheetfed company whose average sale is in the $1,000 to $5,000 range. Observation tells you there are far more print buyers in this small buyer category than in the $25,000 to $100,000 range. Buyers in that range are likely buying long-run web jobs.

It’s up to you to create a work schedule that fits the prospects for your company.

Fundamentally, you should be investing a minimum of 30 percent of your time building a prospect database, updating your prospect intelligence, conceiving strategies to penetrate the prospect account and implementing your strategies.

Call when buyers are most likely to be reached. Monday mornings and Friday afternoons are probably the worst times. Lunch hours—from noon until about 2 p.m.—are also poor times. Try reserving a block of time specifically for making calls; for example, calling in the morning from say, 8:30 a.m. until noon.

Have a reason to call other than, “I want your graphic arts business.” That is probably what your competitors said the last time they called the buyer. You want to sound different. Having a specific topic to discuss or question to ask will give you a competitive edge by making you more memorable.

Harris DeWese is the author of "Now Get Out There and Sell Something." He is chairman/CEO at Compass Capital Partners and an author of the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of info regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed 100-plus printing company transactions and is viewed as the preeminent deal maker in the industry. He specializes in investment banking, M&A, sales, marketing and management services to printers.

Related Content
  • http://robreichstein rob reichstein

    I suggest you update these sales tips to this millennium. Very few companies employ receptionists anymore. If you have tried this approach with a receptionist all they have time for is to connect you to a department, not always the one you want, or a random person. This is not like the old days before direct lines and vm when a receptionist was the focus of telephone communications for a company.

    Also I am not a fan of exclusions. Monday mornings, Friday afternoons, days before holidays, days after holidays was a rule of thumb before cell phones, networks, emailing, corporate cut backs, and doing business globally. The work day for many has no start and no stop. Deadlines come on fast, and often.

    How many people in the work force today are not multi tasking, worn out, stressed out, or just plain too busy to talk? Very few.
    So, in this millennium, sales forces need to research companies and prospects using social media and research tools like google before any contact is made.

    Approaches have to be tailored for a specific industry and organization, and leave behind the commodity terms and approaches. – We can save you money – How do you know that? Talk about the prospects industry and how you bring something to the table. You can ask for a response if you are leaving a vm but be clear about what your intentions and plans are to follow up. Provide a reason that benefits the prospect to return your call.

    Remember “wiffim” What’s in it for me! Drive them to a website – hopefully with a purl in order to track if they have responded.
    By the way, most likely the prospect will ping your website to find out more about you. Make sure your message and your website are in harmony. Nothing ends a relationship faster than confusion.