How to Show Clients That Print Can Be Exciting
Emma Louise, a Cornell University graduate student, accompanied her father to a trade show. To call this a “print” trade show would be both unfair and inaccurate. Sure, print was present, but it was displayed in many ways and on various substrates. The entire show floor reeked of an industry in flux. As far as the eye could see, there was convergence.
At first, she was probably thinking, “How long is this going to take?” Then, slowly, Emma started taking a look at the contents of each booth. She was impressed. She saw print used in creative and extraordinary ways. At one booth, the image literally leapt off the page in the form of augmented reality. She had long since stopped looking at her watch and now anxiously awaited arrival at the next booth. On the way, she looked up at her father and said, “Wait ... This is print?”
If you’re not excited about what’s going on in the printing industry right now, there is a very good chance your pulse has stopped. Perhaps you should lie down and ask someone to cover you with dirt. Ink and toner have found their way to so many different surfaces, it’s hard to keep up.
And if you aren’t excited about print, your customers and prospects probably aren’t either. Quick test: Are you having a difficult time getting appointments with people? Are your voicemails going unanswered? If so, you are probably not into print the way Emma is, for when she got back to Cornell she shot an email back to her father asking, “How can we get in touch with that augmented reality company? I thought about that technology all of the way home and have an idea for how we can implement it here in the lab.”
Show Clients What Print Can Be
See, that’s how it happens. By understanding what’s possible, we light a fire under someone’s creative thinking abilities. By showing clients everything “print” can be, we get them thinking about how to apply it in their world just as Emma did.
We plant seeds; seeds that grow into solutions. Those solutions are not rewarded to vendors based on price. Those vendors, in turn, become valued partners with their customers and are invited in to present their ideas. They are seen as a resource to call for the discussion of a business need. And all because we redefined “print.”
Every voicemail you leave that goes unanswered should tell you something: You’re not saying anything of value. If that prospect did call you back and ask, “Why should I give you some of my valuable time?” what would you say? Would it be, “I can save you money on your print spend” or perhaps “We are a full-service printer, capable of handling all of your printing needs” or maybe the yawn-inducing, “Do you have anything I can quote on?” Why not deliver a message that matches the excitement of this industry?
Try a Different Approach
Try this on for size: “I understand you’re busy and that your time is valuable. Still, I am hoping to convince you that an investment of time with me has a high rate of return. You see, what I sell can unlock creativity.
“My equipment doesn’t just produce printed matter but rather print that matters. While I can describe the specifications and capabilities of this machinery on my shop floor, it’s you who must take it from there. Print is visual. You need to see the output for yourself so that when someone comes to you with a business challenge (a new product release, a request for a new marketing message, or the need to completely differentiate yourself from your competition), you will recall that sales rep you met with and his promise of limitless possibilities.”
Wordy? Absolutely. Flowery? Guilty. Interest-inspiring? Perhaps. Hey, anything’s better than whatever non-responsive statements are leaving your lips at the moment, right?
People are busy these days. Very busy. Like the rest of us, clients and prospects have two kinds of tasks on their to-do list: Have-to’s and want-to’s. You, the salesperson, are fighting to make your way onto that list, and it is anything but easy. Best case scenario: You get someone to come to the plant. Similar to walking down the aisles of a trade show, seeing what a new, modern print facility looks like can yield the coveted, “This is print?” response. If that’s not possible, the standard sales appointment will do. In both cases, it’s important to make a visual, anecdotal sales presentation by showing samples and telling stories. In doing so, you are achieving an important goal: Planting seeds. Secondarily, you’re taking a page from history …
When scientists discovered Vitamin E, they called it a “cure looking for a disease.” They knew it existed. What they didn’t know is what it could do; what value did it bring, and to whom? Today, given all of the incredible capabilities we have at our fingertips in this converging industry, our job as salespeople is to make clients and prospects aware of what is possible. This, in turn, will spark creativity, allowing for applications and solutions to business needs and challenges heretofore undiscovered. Getting to that place requires eyes to be opened.
Influence with Enthusiasm
Everyone has a friend who would be considered an influencer. This is someone who describes a movie or a book or an Amazon Prime series with such enthusiasm that you mentally commit to watching, reading, or viewing.
In other words, you take their suggestion and find a way to add it to your to-do list. How did they do that? You are just as busy as anyone else. Your time is limited, and you have far more tasks to accomplish than hours in the day, and yet here you are binge-watching “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
Get excited about your capabilities and the industry in general. Learn to talk about print in terms of solutions. Find success stories to tell and then relay them with the enthusiasm of an influencer.
Voicemail is an audition. It is an opportunity far more than it’s a problem. Voicemail gives you the chance to paint a picture in someone’s mind. You can stimulate enthusiasm in others by leaving a message delivered with the same tone you would use to tell someone you just won the lottery!
One of the more frustrating parts of sales occurs when it feels like you are shouting into the abyss with your selling efforts. Call after call goes unanswered, and the frustration continues day after day, week after week. And then, one day, your phone rings, and it’s that prospect you were trying to connect with several months ago.
She introduces herself and then says something like, “I never forgot the messages you left. I admired your enthusiasm and thought to myself, ‘This is someone I would like to work with someday.’ Well, I was in a meeting this morning and my boss asked if anyone had a new or innovative idea for the new product launch. That’s when your enthusiastic voicemail message came back to me. Luckily, I saved your phone number and wanted to find out what your company can do for us.”
Yes, Emma. This is print!