Icy Cold Calls – the Print Sales Faux Pas

The number one mistake every print rep makes when prospecting is…? Drum roll, please!

Yup, it’s not knowing your prospective customer. So go ahead, pick up that phone without doing a hint of homework, and dial the number of someone on your list who’s supposedly the print buyer/originator. As a seasoned print buying pro commented to me at the PBI Print & Media last month, “Cold calls get cold responses.”

If I were a sales manager for a printing company, I’d focus on effective prospecting techniques before I moved on to treating customers well. There’s absolutely no excuse for making a cold call without having done your homework on the Internet—Google, LinkedIn, the company’s website – pick one or review all three. Add to that whatever knowledge or news you can glean about a prospect’s company and industry. That’s all it takes; a few minutes of research.

The next time I get one of these calls from a print rep, instead of hustling him off the phone quickly, I’m going to ask how long he’s been in the business and whether or not he’s the owner. I’ll do it for every cold call from now on for six months and report back. I hope the results show that it’s brand new reps who fail to do their homework, but I’m not at all convinced.

You want to avoid the cold brush off? Avoid making icy cold calls.

And BTW, just so you don’t think I give bad emails a pass, I’ll share with you the latest opening line of an email I got today from an industry publisher:

Dear ,

We are writing to you as a ____________ publication subscriber.

This is just as big a faux pas. Send an email that drops a customer’s name—or, even worse, inserts the wrong name entirely—and, like Michael Corleone said to his brother Fredo, “You’re dead to me.” Seriously, it’s a really stupid mistake to make in a mass email, especially since you have the names of your subscribers.

Long regarded as a print buyer expert and trade writer, Margie Dana launched her new business in 2013 as a marketing communications strategist with a specialty in printing and print buying. Now she’s on a mission to help clients build customer communities through carefully crafted content.

You may know Margie as the producer of the annual Print & Media Conference. Although she’s exited the event production business, she’s still publishing her Print Tips newsletter. She looks forward to helping companies create and style all of their content so their potential customers sit up and take notice. For details and to sign up for her Print Tips and new marketing blog, visit www.margiedana.com or e-mail Margie at margie@margiedana.com.
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  • aspireforbill

    Like! Like! Like! Oh, Margie, my friend, you’ve done it again! As someone who comes from a pre-Internet area where anything less than 18 months old was "current," I can attest to your premise that there is no excuse for not doing the pre-call research prior to picking up the phone! How difficult is it? You need to have something of value to say and someone to say it to and all of that information is the public domain, for crying out loud! Thanks for echoing my thoughts on this subject.

  • Helen Doty

    Totally agree! Thanks for helping to educate the "newbies" in the world.