Let Go of This Myth and Grow Your Sales
Once upon a time, a group of workers held the title “Print Buyer.” Printing salespeople sought them out because these influential people chose which printer service provider got their steady work.
The sales rep’s goal was to find seven to 10 accounts that bought consistently and to build strong relationships with those buyers. The strategy worked well during the 20th Century, when print was the primary marketing channel at many companies. Back then, sales reps had no problem maintaining a visible presence in accounts because ongoing transactions automatically created communication opportunities.
Today, most companies buy less print than they once did, and many have shifted away from centralized decision-making to a model where budget owners determine vendors. To maintain a book of business and grow, salespeople often need many more accounts, and need to stay in touch with a broader base of contacts.
So, What’s the Myth?
The myth is this: It is the salesperson’s job, and not the company’s, to reach out to all potential buyers at every prospect and client every month. Note that the word “all” in that statement is bolded and underlined. I’m not saying that salespeople aren’t contacting any buyers. I am saying they are not contacting every single person with buying potential.
There are logical reasons why salespeople don’t touch all contacts at all accounts with regularity. For starters, most sales reps both sell and manage accounts. They quote projects, enter orders, manage client expectations, and resolve issues. Since most salespeople are compensated based on revenues, communicating with the proverbial “bird in the hand” will always have more value than someone who might — or might not — buy in the future.
Leaders that recognize that the broader company should work as an equal partner in outbound communication processes are better positioned to maintain top-of-mind awareness and to win more business in their market.
To maintain top-of-mind awareness with customers and leads, I recommend investing in three outbound touches: a monthly email newsletter, a quarterly mailing, and at least one weekly social media post. Go wide with email: send it to customers, prospects, and suspects. For the quarterly mailing, be more selective to control costs. Your mailing doesn’t have to be complicated. A postcard promoting a specific service works! The social post can include a photo showing a sample.
Can you do more? Of course! But this economical, three-pronged approach gets you started and fits most budgets.
Today, a buyer will need a project. If you want to win the order, the first step is to be remembered when that buyer is ready to buy. To win, you need to stay top of mind. By helping sales maintain that vital position, you will help open the door for more conversations.
Then, sales can focus on a task only they can do, which requires time and finesse: closing the deal.
Linda Bishop is the founder and president of Thought Transformation, a national sales and marketing consulting group helping printers and other companies achieve top-line growth through a combination of strategies, tools, training and tactics.
Her expertise includes all aspects of outbound selling and account acquisition, account retention and development, solution selling, marketing, and aligning sales processes with marketing strategies.
Before starting Thought Transformation in 2004, Linda sold commercial printing for seventeen years, working as a commission salesperson for the Atlanta division of RR Donnelley Company. She was one of the top performers in the Atlanta marketplace and had annual sales exceeding $9 million.
Linda has a BS degree in accounting from Purdue University and an MBA in marketing from Georgia State. She has written several books on sales topics, speaks nationally on sales, marketing and customer service, and has published many articles.