The Third Myth of Print Sales

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

I love all the features of my car. I like the 170 bhp engine which makes acceleration so easy. I like my 18 inch alloys which hold the road so well. I like being able to control the contents of my iPod from the steering wheel. And the climate control keeps the temperature just right.

I have to admit though, I didn’t need the parking sensors. Their constant beeping drives me up the wall.

The car salesperson did an excellent job on me. He sold me on all the features and benefits of the car.  But it’s a very different story in print.

Can you imagine many of your customers being interested in all the features of your presses?

Do you think they really care about the speed of your plate changes? Or your ink feed system? Your JDF workflow?

They probably aren’t even that interested in how your customer service department works.

Features and benefits does not sell print

However, many of the 1400 print sales pitches that I have received have focused on features and benefits.

Print sales people who avoid selling on features and benefits engage prospects quicker. They also tend to create longer lasting relationships. This is because prospects have a more solid reason to do business with the company. So they tend to be more loyal. With these sort of customers a print sales person is in better control of their sales pipeline. They are more likely to achieve their sales targets.

Print sales people who do sell with features and benefits will find it harder to achieve their sales targets. They are less likely to have engaged with the prospect’s true needs. So the customer is more likely to treat them as a commodity supplier.

However, some print sales people will think that I have missed the key element of a sales pitch.

Surely the prospect needs to know all about your company to trust you with their business?

Most prospects will carry out research on potential new suppliers. However, to get to this position they need to be given a good reason to do this research. Just telling prospects about all the whizz-bang features of your company is unlikely to motivate them to do this.

The features and benefits elements education should come later in the sales process. It should only happen when the prospect is validating the decision that they have already made. Typically, the prospect should lead this element of the sales process.

But if you can’t sell with features and benefits, what should you be doing?  Here’s an alternative route.

Focus on me

Most peoples’ favourite subject is themselves. I see this in many sales pitches. The salesperson needs by talking all about themselves and their company. But this isn’t really what interests the prospect.

If you want to engage the prospect, you need to talk about them. After all, that is their favourite subject. If you make the conversation all about the prospect, you’re much more likely to have a beneficial sales conversation.

However, to achieve this you need to remember a second point.

Be in the prospect’s world

To have a sales conversation that focuses on the prospect, you need to understand their world. You need to understand their business. You need to understand the pressures that they are under. You need to understand what is at the top of their priority list.

That is when a prospect is more likely to talk to you.

I have been asked before how the salesperson gets to this point. It can be hard to get prospects to spend time with you. So how are you going to understand their world?

The answer to this is to spend time with current customers who are similar to the prospects you are seeking. Get them to tell you what their life is like. Then you will already know what engages with your prospects.

To make that engagement even more powerful, you need to focus on one element of their world.

Focus on the prospect’s pain

If you can understand what is really making your prospects worry, you have a much better chance of making the sale. Most business sales are not made on the features and benefits of the selling company. Most business sales are made because the product or service will solve a problem for the buyer.

The most effective sales will focus on these customer problems. Remember, that your prospect may not even be aware that they have this problem until you tell them. Remember also, that the problem may not be directly print related.

To continue reading this post from Matthew Parker, click here.

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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.