Assumptions Have No Place in Printing Sales

I’m sure many people have quoted the famous phrase, “You know what happens when you assume, it makes an ass of you and me.” My favorite version of this phrase comes from Samuel L. Jackson in the movie “The Long Kiss Goodnight.” You can look it up on or see the film your self, if you like.

The lesson that I continually learn from a phrase like this is that no matter what I THINK I know, I’d better take action and operate on only those facts that I know to be absolutely true.

Here’s how this can apply to your print shop. You provide an estimate for a project, and after you get the project and start working on it, the client changes the deadline and makes significant changes to the parameters, requiring a lot of computer system time and even some overtime. In your head you say, “Well, the customer obviously knows that the price will go up now, so I’ll just wait until we invoice it and try to get more money then. I’m sure he’ll understand and pay us, no problem.” Assumption made.

That is certainly one way to go. I can tell you, though, that many times when I was a sales manager and a salesperson would come to me and tell me we had to credit an invoice because the customer was refusing to pay for alterations, I would ask one question—Did the customer KNOW there would be additional charges at the time we did the work? And if the salesperson said no, I would launch into my lesson about being up front about charges. I always said it was far better, in fact it was my POLICY, for a customer never to be surprised by an invoice. Get ahead of it. Assume nothing.

Now working as a consultant, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include client recovery, retention and acquisition, and marketing communications projects.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league.

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  • http://FredBuck Fred Buck

    Thanks very much for this article.

    Our printing company has implemented a policy of letting our clients know about any charges for changes the next business day after it happens.

    I send our clients an email with an explanation of the new charges.

    It’s amazing. When alterations are handled this way, the client very rarely complains.

    I think I know why: When the charges are given the next day for changes, the reason for the charges are easily remembered.

    When a company waits for 1, 2 or more weeks for the job to be completed and the job to be invoiced, it’s very easy for the client to forget the reasons for the charges.

    Thanks again!