No Print? No Problem!

What if you sold something that no one needed?

Years ago, people bought blocks of ice and stuck them in a large box along with their food to keep it from going bad. Orders eventually slowed and finally stopped completely and the blocked ice industry died. It wasn’t that people no longer needed cold food, but rather that they found a different solution: the refrigerator. The smart ice salesman didn’t just shrug his shoulders and walk away; he inquired how people were meeting the need that his product once provided. Soon, he sold refrigerators.

A client tells you, “We’re just not printing as much as we did once.” You have the option and the right to lie in the fetal position and whimper. Many do. Or, you can recognize that print is only a solution and the needs of the customer are being solved another way. You can choose to dig deeper and find out what’s being done now.


Do you understand the problem that it solves? If not, you should. Your future depends on it!

Think of it this way: Every company (yours and mine included) must grow revenue and that growth comes from one or more of the following options:

  • Acquisition
  • Finding new customers
  • Selling more to existing customers
  • Opening new markets

Meet the objection, “We’re just not printing as much as we once did” with questions about how the customer or prospect is growing. If you are talking to the right person (read: not the Buyer) you can engage in a fascinating conversation about target markets and learn how much the customer or prospect knows about the origin and makeup of its customer base. You will hear about new opportunities to meet the same need that ink, toner, and paper once did.

The fundamentals do not change, though the mediums and solutions might. If you see your job as that of a print salesperson, your future and options are increasingly limited. If, however, you see yourself as a solutions provider, you will find a limitless fountain of opportunity.

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
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  • Jim Russell

    Good article Bill! As a seasoned printing broker, I am always looking for ways to reinvent myself and increase my value to my customers, even if it means referring them to someone more qualified to meet their particular needs.