We all hear that with the change to become Marketing Service Providers or Print Communications Companies, our selling strategies need to change also. Sales reps need to expect longer sales cycles because now we are selling projects, not jobs. We need to sell to different people in our customers’ companies, not the print buyer but the marketing manager. We’re told not to sell our equipment but our solutions. . . and we’re told that the traditional print rep is a thing of the past.
But many of us are still really commercial printers that are selling more services such as design, digital, mailing, and fulfillment, and aren’t ready to be Marketing Service Providers or Cross-Media Publishers.
What do our sales reps do now?
Traditional sales reps can still be very successful but they do need to adopt some different selling strategies. There is no future in being just an order taker selling a commodity based on price, but there is a solid future for the sales representative who recognizes how his or her buying world has changed.
Your goal needs to become a trusted advisor to your customers, not a sales person. You do that by learning and understanding your customers’ business. Then ask questions about their marketing communications, be able to understand their answers and help them improve their results:
• Why are you producing this mailer?
• Who is it going to and why?
• What were the results of the last mailer?
• Is it part of a larger cross-media promotion? And more…
Tell your customers and prospects about innovative solutions you have made for other customers. Become an expert in your field, whether it’s in mailing, personalized marketing, social media, database management or fulfillment. Educate your customers in these areas to demonstrate how you are thinking on their behalf.
Yes, it will take time to learn what you need to know and to position yourself as an expert advisor. Your sales cycle may become longer and you will need to be talking to others besides the ‘print buyer’. But you will have set yourself apart from your competition by being able to improve your customers’ business and provide them with solutions that work, not just take their orders.