How to Get a Prospect on the Line
Proceed to tell the sales manager that so far you have been unsuccessful in getting your foot in the door, then say, “We really have something to offer your company. If you were in my shoes, how would you proceed?” This works almost every time.
As a rule, sales managers (or any other sales professionals) enjoy dispensing advice. They know their companies inside and out, and can influence others within their organizations. An introduction from the sales manager to the graphics buyer is your ticket to an appointment.
Of course, you might be told that the print-buying company has all the graphic arts suppliers it needs, or is satisfied with its suppliers and has no intention of changing. There is still hope, however, if you are willing to be creative and tenacious. You can disqualify some companies because they are “married’ to another supplier that may be a brother-in-law, longtime friend, or just a good and valued vendor. Some of those relationships cannot be cracked with a sledge hammer.
Remember, prospecting is a numbers game—if you call on as many buyers as possible, you are sure to get through some of them.
When you talk with senior-level managers in suspect companies, remember that they are responsible for profit and loss for the company, or for various departments or divisions. Speak with them in crisp, short sentences using bottom-line oriented language. They will generally be interested in dollars and cents. Avoid platitudes or trite phrases. Help them to view your services as an “investment” in attaining their objectives, rather than a “cost” of doing business.
Recognize that companies and the people in them have buying behaviors that vary widely. Some are formal buyers who want all the facts and are slow to come to a decision. Others pride themselves on being able to make quick decisions. And there are many shades in between.
Harris DeWese is the author of "Now Get Out There and Sell Something." He is chairman/CEO at Compass Capital Partners and an author of the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of info regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed 100-plus printing company transactions and is viewed as the preeminent deal maker in the industry. He specializes in investment banking, M&A, sales, marketing and management services to printers.