ONLINE INTERFACES -- Printers Set Sites on Clients
Customer response to these initiatives has been positive, although a bit surprising. "The clients we thought would be the most excited about the various services were not, while those we thought were 'technology challenged' were the quickest to adapt," Madsen says.
One lesson the company has learned is to not overwhelm a prospect, or even a current client, with everything it can do. "We find it best to sit back and listen during a client meeting, then have a team powwow before responding with an answer tailored to that client's problems," the sales exec advises. This makes it seem more like a client has found the perfect printer to meet its needs, rather than a printer that just offers a bunch of solutions.
"Client relationships are like dating; the more a client thinks 'I am the only one,' the more willing they are to work with you," Madsen says. "Clients don't necessarily want to know about all the things you do for other people. Our clients like the feeling that they're very important to us."
Such attention does come at a cost, even if it's not a line item. "We are in business to sell print-related services and not to buy equipment and technology. No ROI, no purchase here," emphasizes Rapid's director of sales.
In the case of the two corporate clients for whom Rapid is developing systems for online ordering of customized forms, the arrangement stipulates a minimum monthly charge of "X" dollars with a contract for a minimum of two years.
"We front the development money, but the clients are then locked in whether they use the system or not. That is the only way to approach it, or it would be too easy for them to bail," Madsen contends.
One-on-one training is the printer's standard procedure for getting clients up and running with new online services. "First we train our salespeople so they can train the client, usually just during a regular visit," he relates.