Assumptions Have No Place in Printing Sales
I’m sure many people have quoted the famous phrase, “You know what happens when you assume, it makes an ass of you and me.” My favorite version of this phrase comes from Samuel L. Jackson in the movie "The Long Kiss Goodnight." You can look it up on IMDB.com or see the film your self, if you like.
The lesson that I continually learn from a phrase like this is that no matter what I THINK I know, I’d better take action and operate on only those facts that I know to be absolutely true.
Here’s how this can apply to your print shop. You provide an estimate for a project, and after you get the project and start working on it, the client changes the deadline and makes significant changes to the parameters, requiring a lot of computer system time and even some overtime. In your head you say, “Well, the customer obviously knows that the price will go up now, so I’ll just wait until we invoice it and try to get more money then. I’m sure he’ll understand and pay us, no problem.” Assumption made.
That is certainly one way to go. I can tell you, though, that many times when I was a sales manager and a salesperson would come to me and tell me we had to credit an invoice because the customer was refusing to pay for alterations, I would ask one question—Did the customer KNOW there would be additional charges at the time we did the work? And if the salesperson said no, I would launch into my lesson about being up front about charges. I always said it was far better, in fact it was my POLICY, for a customer never to be surprised by an invoice. Get ahead of it. Assume nothing.
Here is another way to look at how assumptions can negatively affect our work. Let’s say I am making some cold calls on some new prospects. There are a number of ways that I can look at this activity and the way it will be received by the person I am calling.
One way would be to assume that I am interrupting them and that she/he does not want to hear from me, so I conduct myself in an apologetic manner and just hope that SOMEONE out there wants to buy what I am selling.
Another way would be to firmly believe that what I am actually doing is sharing ideas and exploring ways to help this individual do his/her job better and more efficiently. I can believe that this person will be glad to hear what I have to say, and know that under the right circumstances, I am doing good work, and perhaps even helping him/her save the company time and money.
So here is the point...Assume nothing. Always be up front with people when dealing with details like billing and deadlines. If you are incurring overtime, let it be known, and be honest. Always believe that what you are selling has value, and you are not bothering ANYBODY. Your job is to help, and if someone does not want your help, move on to the next person. But keep on moving!
Blogger, author, consultant, coach and all around evangelist for the graphic arts industry, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include sales and marketing coaching, enabling clients to find engagement strategies that work for them and mentoring the next generation of sales superstars.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league. She is also the mother of two sets of twins under the age of ten, so she fears nothing.