You and I haven’t met, but I wanted to give you a few pointers as you start your new career selling print.
I’ve been around the industry for years, always as a print customer. Hopefully, my suggestions will provide some guidance. I really want to help steer you in a direction that will bring you success and many happy customers.
Presumably, you have a sales manager and maybe even your own mentor. That would be terrific! I have no clue as to whether they discuss print customers with you, at least in the way I speak about them. I’ve never sold print. My comments are all based on the customer’s P.O.V.
Always be honest and forthright. Customers and prospects value integrity in their print reps, above all other qualities. If you fail at this one thing, they’ll never give you a second chance. Put yourself in their shoes as you meet with them, speak with them, and build relationships. Treat them as you like to be treated.
Do your homework. You’re a digital native, so use those skills to do simple research on a prospect before you call or visit. I suggest LinkedIn for starters. There you can find out if a person’s been working with printers forever or if she’s fairly new, like you. This makes a huge difference. Be sensitive to each customer’s knowledge level. And find out whatever you can about a person’s company and industry before contacting them. It means you’re a professional who’s prepared.
Polish your communications skills. I’m a writer, so of course written skills matter a lot to me. But they do to your customers and prospects as well. Pay attention to your grammar and spelling. Whether you’re dashing off a quick email or writing your first sales letter, do it carefully. You’ll be judged by the quality of your communications. When you prepare to meet with prospects, know how much time you’ll have and who’ll be in that meeting. Have materials to leave behind that showcase your company’s specialty. Be your friendliest and professional ‘best’ in the meeting, and listen more than you speak. Find out what the person’s needs and challenges are. Don’t bulldoze through a meeting with a scripted spiel or slide presentation.
Be a student of all media. Since you’re young, this point is probably moot. You already know what your competition is, media-wise. The great part about this is that you can help customers figure out how to integrate print campaigns with digital elements. Go for it! Be creative.
Understand you have tremendous competition from other printers. Know your local and regional competitors. Find out who else is bidding on the jobs you’re asked about. Study competitors’ web sites to see how you compare with what they’re offering. Try and clearly articulate what makes your employer different from – and better than – your competition.
Keep up with the industry and more. Stay abreast of changes in the print industry. This will prepare you to serve your employer as well as your customers. Visit sites including www.piworld.com (Printing Impressions) and www.whattheythink.com (WhatTheyThink) daily. Pay attention to new technologies that improve or enhance printed materials. Question if and how these affect you and your customers. Also pay attention to marketing trends, because it’s most often marketers who decide what their campaigns should entail: digital, social, print-based, mobile? When it comes to choosing print, marketers are extremely influential. Check out your local direct marketing association. Make a case to your employer for why you should be a member.
Sorry to have gone on this long. I do want you to succeed and be thrilled with your career choice. Don’t lose sight of the people you serve or the stresses they’re under. Be hungry for more knowledge every single day. Have fun – and get in touch if I can help.
© 2015 Margie Dana