Prospecting for Print Sales Professionals
This motivational drain often creates one of the biggest obstacles to finding new clients: call reluctance. Call reluctance can relate to both new and existing accounts, but it is more prevalent in prospecting activities. Since many salespeople have not received coaching or sales training, they are neither motivated to make calls nor confident that they will do so successfully. In fact, call reluctance is often directly attributable to a salesperson’s fear of rejection or failure. Rather than admit to fearing anything, salespeople often rationalize their failure to make prospecting calls. Do any of the following sound familiar?
• I am tied to the plant putting out fires for my existing accounts.
• There is no real incentive to pound the pavement for new business. I’ve got all the business I can handle from my present accounts.
• My customers require so much hand-holding that I have no time to prospect.
• Our pricing isn’t competitive.
These statements are real, and were culled from a surveys of more than 2,000 graphic arts salespeople. Though there may be truth in some of the responses, they are rationalizations subconsciously contrived to mask the real problem—call reluctance.
Research into the psychological reasons for call reluctance has revealed more than a fear of rejection. In fact, the research found nine unique reasons for call reluctance, all equally insidious deterrents to a salesperson’s prosperity and professional growth.
Social Threat Sensitivity. This form of call reluctance is found in salespeople who feel their social skills are inadequate. When to sit, extend a hand, and handle an introduction should be second nature, but for many people they are not. Some salespeople are frozen into inertia by fear of failing in these social amenities. But social skills are an essential part of prospecting for sales. They enable buyers to develop trust in their salespeople and the salespeople’s communities.
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.