Print Buyers Should Screen Calls
I have to laugh at the notion that professional print buyers owe it to printers to pick up the phone when you call them. Why do they owe it to you—or any salesperson?
I screen calls, don’t you? I’m busy, often in the middle of a project, and if I see an 800 number or an “Unknown caller,” I always let it go to voice mail. Every message gets listened to. Then I decide which calls to return. I’d say I return 9 out of 10 calls. That’s the beauty of caller ID. It helps me manage my time.
The idea that print buyers should answer every time the phone rings is ludicrous. If you have something they might need, make that clear in your message, and they’ll call you back.
A printer’s challenge is like every other salesperson’s: making an impression that is so convincing that a prospect gets in touch with you. If you’ve done your homework and have good information about what a prospect needs, regarding print-related products and services, then your message will get returned if you’ve left the right one.
What messages won’t get returned? Here are a few:
“We’re a sheetfed printer and I’d like to tell you more about our capabilities.”
“I’m trying to reach the person who buys printing for your company.”
“...we can save you 30 percent on your commercial printing. Call me back and I’ll tell you how!”
These are the kind of canned and common sales pitches some printers leave, even in 2011. I know because I get them. This is not exclusive to printing, of course. I get similar messages about different products, including telephone and Internet service. I don’t return those either.
Your phone message has to be memorable and professional, as do all of your sales tactics. A phone call shouldn’t be the only way you prospect for business.
I would return a phone call if the caller referenced a colleague or friend (but it had better be legit). Referrals are powerful. So are messages that make it clear the caller’s done his or her homework. If nothing else, he or she should have visited my Website. They can Google me if they don’t know where I work or what my URL is. The insights available about what business I’m in will inform them a great deal. Do at least that much research before you call a prospect. Please.
Another bad move? Keep calling back and leaving messages, getting more insistent or irritated with each new message. Nothing warms a prospect’s heart like sales harassment.
Even better yet, find ways to make an impression on your prospects before you ever dial their number. What do I mean? I’ll save it for another post.
Long regarded as a print buyer expert and trade writer, Margie Dana launched a new business as a marketing communications strategist with a specialty in printing and print buying. She is as comfortable working in social media as she is in traditional media, and now she’s on a mission to help clients build customer communities through carefully crafted content. Dana was the producer of the annual Print & Media Conference.
Although she has exited the event business, Dana is still publishing her Print Tips newsletter each week. For more details and to sign up for her newsletter and marketing blog, visit www.margiedana.com