Written by Matthew Parker
Print Industry Consultant
Have you heard the story of the two shoe salesmen who went to Africa?
Many years ago, the two were supposedly sent out by a shoe manufacturer. The company wanted to look at export opportunities to Africa. However, the two sales people returned with very different reports.
The first report said: “Situation hopeless: people do not wear shoes.”
At first sight, the second report was not so different. It also said that people did not wear shoes. But the second sales person saw this as a great sales opportunity.
Both reports saw exactly the same situation. But the mindset of the two sales people created two very different opportunities.
Your sales mindset can make a huge difference to your sales results
I talk to many print sales people who tell me that, these days, buyers are only interested in price. Here’s the trouble: if you think buyers only care about price, then you often make the conversation all about price.
It is still frequent practice for some print sales people to ask for the opportunity to quote on work that a buyer has already placed. Their hope is that they can show that they would have been cheaper, helping to ensure that they will be considered for a chance to win the next job. In reality, they are simply wasting the time of their estimators.
This is a typical situation where the print company has made the conversation about price rather than the buyer.
Naturally, price is an important element for nearly all buyers these days
However, it is by no means the only factor. Buyers are looking for ways to work more efficiently. They are also looking for ways to improve their return on investment in print. These two issues can create great opportunities for sales people.
But it requires the right approach to an issue.
Here are three ways in which you can move the conversation away from price
- Use multi-channel solutions to discuss improved response and conversion rates from marketing materials
- Use web-to-print to reduce design costs through artwork templates
- Use online ordering portals to reduce the administrative overheads for clients when they order print
However, to sell solutions like these you need to see the opportunity.
Here’s a quick action point for you:
Review your mindset. Do you see buyers focused on price, or do you see opportunities to improve your customers’ businesses and your profits?
How would you approach shoe selling in Africa?
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. Download his e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors And What To Do About Them” for free here.
Thanks for posting this useful article. I wonder if there is a correlation between people’s time in the industry and their attitude towards opportunities. I’d like to think not, but being a veteran print sales person myself, we can easily be jaded by false starts and have to remember the thrill of the sales and being part of a successful solution for the customer.
Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, Barbara. You raise an interesting point on the correlation between sales approach and time spent in the industry. Like you said – it’s important (and valuable!) to take a step back every now and again to re-calibrate your mindset and re-evaluate your approach. When you view the customer’s needs like a puzzle, you’ll be amazed at the solutions you can come up with to help them find that missing piece!
Such interesting ideas, Barbara and Bill! What do you think about having junior and senior sales reps working together in such cases? That way the enthusiasm of the junior sales rep will rub off on the senior sales rep, and the senior sales rep can share the knowledge they’ve acquired over the years.
It’s a fascinating idea, Melissa. If the company’s resources allow for it, I think it offers a unique solution to injecting the can-do enthusiasm into the senior rep, while instilling a hardened and experienced perspective into the junior rep. As with anything, so much of it comes down to bandwidth, resources and interpersonal relationships. What makes this really interesting is the impact that top-down organizational support can have on its human capital.
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