Tools for Basic Prospecting --DeWese
The list of winners in the Mañana Man's second Great American Print Sales Prospecting Contest can be found on the next page. We just finished tabulating all of the results prior to the deadline for this issue. My crack staff comprised of Marvelle Stump (I had to hire him to get him out of rehab) and Wanda Thrillkill, who will be contacting the winners to arrange for photographs and for their prizes.
I'm not sure my doctors are going to let me travel to wash all the winning sales teams' cars. There is talk of brain surgery or shock therapy and even a radical fatectomy to remove the excess baggage around my waist that prevents me from seeing my feet. I may also have to buy bus tickets for Marvelle and Wanda to travel to the winners' cities to wash the cars.
Anyway, these great salespeople at the winning companies have worked hard and obtained an aggregate of more than 1,000 total new accounts. They did it in some very tough times, in a very weak printing industry economy. It only proves that if you know what you are doing and work hard—whilst your competitors are hunkered down, contemplating their navels and whining—you can win bushels of new business.
Salespeople who actively and successfully prospect for new business have met head-on the most difficult challenge in print sales. First, they have a willingness to prospect. This means they understand the rationale for developing new business.
This rationale centers on a company's need to grow revenues, the salesperson's personal need to grow his/her income, the need to avoid account concentration and the need to replace the accounts that inevitably leave every year.
Willingness leads to commitment. Committed prospectors have overcome all the excuses for not prospecting. Salespeople who refuse to prospect generally claim that their company can't handle new business. Or, they have to hang around the plant to make sure their work gets produced on time and according to specifications. Or, they are not good at prospecting, but are superb at servicing existing business (the old hunter versus harvester concept.)
Successful prospectors have some semblance of a plan. They may have personally decided to make 10 prospecting calls per week and five face-to-face calls per week. They may have decided to do a special mailing to their prospects.
However basic, they have a plan.
Along with the plan, these prospectors usually have set some objective or a goal. It may be as simple as saying; "I'm going to get three new accounts this year to whom I will sell $200,000." Of course, these plans and objectives can vary greatly depending on the printing segment where your company resides. A short-run sheetfed commercial salesperson will have a much lower dollar objective than a long-run web catalog salesperson.
These successful prospectors almost always work for a company that is providing support for their prospecting activities. At the very least, the printer should be providing the salesperson with a database of buyers within the company geography. At most, the company will have a full-fledged marketing program that is generating qualified leads.
Good prospectors must have a well-conceived and practiced "story." You can't call prospective accounts with a lot of stammering around and by asking, "Have you got anything I can quote?" You must develop some compelling reasons involving yourself and your company that cause the buyer to give you a try.
It can be helpful if you have something to announce. For example, your facility may have just installed a new press, started a fulfillment operation or installed a couple of digital presses. Your story, however, cannot be one-way conversations; it must lead to a two-way exchange where you are questioning prospects about themselves, their companies and their printing needs.
The inability and discomfort associated with meeting, and then conversing with, new buyers is probably the single greatest fear among most printing salespeople. This fear is not unlike the fear most people have for public speaking. You simply—on your own or with professional help—must get over this fear if it exists in you.
Finally, good prospectors make prospecting a part of their daily activity. They make it a habit. Procrastination, as you regular readers know, is my middle name. I invented it when, as a young salesperson, I first perfected taking the day off when I said, "It's a beautiful day. I'm going to the dog track to drink some beer, catch some rays and bet on the greyhounds. I'll call those customers tomorrow...or did I say "mañana?"
Now, start prospecting today even if it's just a smidgen and get out there and sell something!
About the Author
Harris DeWese is the author of Now Get Out There and Sell Something!, published by Nonpareil Books. He is a principal at Compass Capital Partners and is an author of the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of information regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese specializes in investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, sales, marketing, planning and management services to printing companies.
And the Winners Are!
Here are the official results of the second Great American Print Sales Prospecting Contest.
Large company category winner: PCA Inc., Baltimore.
Specialty printer category winner: Victor Graphics, Baltimore.
Midsize company category winner: Worth Higgins & Associates, Richmond, VA.
Small company winner: Ambrose Printing, Nashville, TN.
Real small company winner: Saint Clair Press, Indianapolis.