The following is an excerpt from Matthew Parker’s Seven Myths of Print Sales series:

If you throw enough mud some of it sticks

This is a saying that I hear a lot when I’m talking to print salespeople. They are focused on creating as much activity as possible. They are contacting as many customers as possible as many times as possible.

The main object is to get a lot of quote requests. These salespeople work on the basis that the more prices they give out, the more work they are likely to book in.

You have to admire these people. They are slogging away in a difficult market place, day in, day out. It is certainly hard work. The trouble is, that this sort of activity tends to generate revenue, not profit.

It’s time to challenge the myth that being busy is being profitable Sales at tradeshow

Being constantly on the phone is not necessarily a sign of creating profits People who challenge this myth tend to create better customer partnerships. They are moving away from commodity sales and into a more profitable value-added sale. These customers tend to buy solutions that mean they stay with the same supplier for longer. So the printer is in control of their sales pipeline. And they achieve better profits.

People who believe in the activity myth find it harder to generate profits. They tend to end up with commodity sales and commodity customers. They don’t have the same control over their sales pipeline. They are not achieving their full potential.

However, people who believe in the activity myth refuse to believe this.

Activity equals sales

Sometimes this is true and sometimes it isn’t. To demonstrate this I would like to quote some research from a book called The Challenger Sale. This research is based on profiling over 6,000 sales people from a variety of business sectors.

The profiling shows that there are five clear types of salesperson. One of these is the hard worker. The hard worker can get results. In fact, in commodity type sales, the hard workers form the biggest percentage of high performing salespeople.

However, when it comes to high complexity sales it’s a very different story. Here only 10% of the high performing salespeople were hard workers. There were other types of salesperson who performed much better.

In general, we should draw a slightly different conclusion than activity equals sales.

Activity equals commodity sales

Many of the hard work salespeople who focus on activity are winning work on price. They are focused on getting the orders in. But the rate of their activity means that it is hard to spend too much time on one sale. It’s hard to work on getting a decent profit margin from the customer when you are this active. It’s also hard to sell anything more than a standard print job.

That means we should also draw another conclusion about activity.

Activity equals disloyal customers

Because busy salespeople are winning work on price they are also more likely to lose their customers. Chances are, that as their customer chose on price, they will continue to do so. So as soon as another print sales person comes along with a lower price the customer will be off to a new print company. The busy salesperson has to stay really busy. They need to replace all the customers that are leaving.

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Matthew Parker has been buying print for over 20 years. He’s had over 1,400 sales pitches from printers. Now he’s using that experience to help printing companies engage with their customers and sell print more profitably.  Find out more about Matthew on his site.