Qualities That Make You a Better Print Sales Rep Than Your Competitors
He is Norm. Norm is a competitor of yours. As you size up the landscape of other printers in the area, he is just average. He is normal. He is Norm. As you work to increase your sales business, understand this: Norm is the standard. In order for you to succeed, all you need to do is to be better than Norm. Fortunately, the bar is set pretty low.
First, Norm is not a good listener. The average sales rep does way too much talking. He asks a question, but doesn’t catch the clues that uncover other potential opportunities for sales. He is too busy jumping right to the sale to bother with such details.
You don’t make this mistake. You ask questions like, “What if ... ?” and you make certain the client feels heard. In addition, you ask excellent questions to learn the story behind the piece, not just the specs of the job. This allows you to not just sell print, but to sell the right print solution.
Norm says, “No problem,” instead of, “My pleasure,” or even, “You’re welcome.” His generation is wired that way and, while he means nothing by it, it does not go unnoticed by the age group he is addressing.
Reward for Good Treatment
You are certain to not only use proper business etiquette, but also to make certain the client is aware of your gratitude overall. You thank customers for orders. You thank them for staying loyal. You thank them for the opportunity to be of service. You understand the basic fundamental that clients somehow find a way to do business with the vendors and salespeople who treat them the best.
Overall, Norm is not a great communicator. He has a habit of not getting back to people quickly. Whether it’s a standard phone message or a pricing request, he sees no urgency and returns calls at his convenience — very often the next day.
You see a customer call as a chance to demonstrate your professionalism. What’s most important to you is to acknowledge the message, even if you can’t get to it immediately. This act sends the best possible message to the customer: You are my highest priority.
Norm rarely follows up on quotes. He figures, “They’ll contact me if they want to place an order.” When pressed for a reason, he’ll tell you, “Clients disappear after you give them a price. Why bother? It’s fruitless and a waste of time to leave a voicemail. Besides, they only buy on price and we are rarely the cheapest.”
You take the added step of asking additional questions of the client so that you know things like who is making the decision, when the decision is being made, how best to reconnect and, most importantly, what to do if they don’t respond. While these actions don’t guarantee you’ll get the business, prompt and thorough follow-up will earn you business despite not being the lowest-priced.
Acknowledge the Order
When an order comes in, Norm often fails to acknowledge it. This causes customers to wonder if it was received. The subsequent email inquiry is one more annoying task in their day. Further, Norm might quote a ship date but does not confirm it beforehand. He makes the assumption the client understands when they’ll get the job and takes further action only if the delivery date will be met.
You correctly realize we all live in an Amazon world, one where expectations are set at a high level. Online access to information means we expect to know where the job is and that we receive notification it’s on its way.
As such, you take the time to reach out to a customer a day or two before the job is scheduled in order to let the customer know everything is on track. Not only does this meet those high standards and display good customer service, it gives the client the chance to make last-minute delivery adjustments or ask for special shipping methods.
Norm never follows up on a job. Ever. To him, it’s a ridiculous concept to even consider making a phone call or sending an email just to find out how everything went. “If there’s a problem, believe me, they’ll let you know. Otherwise, I’ve got better things to do.”
This sales activity alone separates you from Norm and your competition. You take two actions: First, you make certain the client is happy with the quality and delivery time; and second, you delve into the business need that your print solution solved.
A Partner, Not an Order Taker
For example, that last order had to do with the trade show your client participated in. It was their biggest event of the year. So, not only did you make sure that the job was done right, you asked how the show went for them. Not only does this show an interest in their business, it provides additional feedback and uncovers potential opportunities for the future. You can bet you’ll be engaged not just at the “quote” stage of the job but the “design” stage the next time.
And, finally, Norm makes a lot of assumptions. He assumes that his customers are completely satisfied and he is meeting all of their needs. In reality, you have contacted his customers with an offer to come in with new ideas, something Norm hasn’t done since the day that older rep retired and the account was given to him.
Further, Norm assumes his clients know about his entire product line. You make certain to remind clients constantly that, yes, you do wide-format, digital, mailing, and even books.
Norm also assumes everyone knows him while you make it a point to never leave an existing account without meeting one new person. This is why your same-client sales are growing double-digits every year. It’s also how you landed Humongous Corp. as a client when someone you’d recently met at Company A quit and got a job there.
The normal way of selling is outdated. Norm (or Norma, for that matter) can be beaten by demonstrating some pretty basic sales rules: Listen, follow up, over-communicate, and make no assumptions.
What was once optional is now mandatory. Whereas customer loyalty existed in the form of near-certain repeat business and it was difficult to displace the current vendor, now it’s no problem.
Bill Farquharson is a respected industry expert and highly sought after speaker known for his energetic and entertaining presentations. Bill engages his audiences with wit and wisdom earned as a 40-year print sales veteran while teaching new ideas for solving classic sales challenges. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (781) 934-7036. Bill’s two books, The 25 Best Print Sales Tips Ever and Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How? as well as information on his new subscription-based website, The Sales Vault, are available at salesvault.pro.