Many printing companies now offer a range of Web-enabled services for their customers. These services help customers automate the process of procuring, managing and submitting printing jobs. This offering is commonly known as Web-to-Print and is often written as W2P.
For salespeople, Web-to-Print services can create a significant differentiation for themselves versus their competitors. In the last few years, we have all seen significant advancements in software that allow customers to gain major improvements in their workflows and interactions with their print provider. These improvements have helped salespeople show measureable ROI in cost and time saving for their customers. With the growth of remote Web-to-print hosted software or Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, even small printers can provide these services easily and at a much lower cost.
Providing an engaging W2P demo to a qualified customer is now a critical skill for graphic communications salespeople. There is no such thing as a “cookie cutter” or “scripted demo” in a personalized and customized world and this is especially true when conducting a W2P demo
Since printing is still a relationship business, every demo is unique to each customer and vitally important for the sale. There are many types of demos that can be provided to a variety of customers for different purposes. These types of demos include a quick overview demo, an executive demo, a technical demo, an end user demo, an IT demo and the selling demo. The selling demo generated by the salesperson is a vital step in the sales process.
Many Sales Reps Fumble through the Demo
For those of us who have had to sit through thousands of hours of on-line or face to face demonstrations of a variety of W2P offerings ranging from simple to very sophisticated, it can be an awful experience. We can almost predict that we will walk away confused, unimpressed and certainly not willing to pay a penny more for the capability. Watching a sales rep fumble through the user interface or go through a boring review of endless features or capabilities that are of no interest to the customer can lead to a failed opportunity.
Because of a lack of confidence, some printing companies do not encourage their salespeople to conduct demos. They designate technical resources to conduct demos. We discourage this strategy unless there is a requirement for a technical or customized end user training demo. Salespeople need to sell and there no better way to sell than to conduct an effective selling demo. If a salesperson cannot adequately conduct a demo using their own W2P system, how would anyone expect an end user to comfortably use the service?
Web-To-Print Demonstrations Are Often Poorly Executed
Here is the problem that many salespeople face. Unless the demonstration is tied directly to the customer’s business, the customer is actively engaged and customer can readily recognize measureable benefits, there will be little or no perceived value-add for W2P. In fact, many customers are unwilling to pay anything more for the offering. Some customers have told us that they should pay less since it seemed that the W2P services demonstrated seemed to help the printer more than the customer.
Recently we, Intellective Solutions, worked with a large printer to help their experienced salesforce to take a new set of W2P services to their customers. It was not hard to train them on the features and functions of the software, but the greatest challenge for us was to help them execute and deliver an effective software-driven demonstration. This is not a skill commonly held by printing salespeople.
Elements of an Effective Demonstration
Delivering a great W2P selling demo is often not only the difference between getting the order, but is required to get better price margins.
Based on our research, there are three general elements are that are common for great demos:
- The Salesperson has adequately researched the customer’s specific requirements and workflow and then applies them to the demo.
- The Salesperson has a thorough knowledge of the software and can flawlessly demo it.
- Effective presentation and sales skills are displayed to adequately create interest, handle objections and close the customer to the next logical step of the sales process.
Nine Suggestions for a Great W2P Selling Demo
During the W2P selling demo, the salespersons job is to create a compelling case and then close the customer to move to the next logical step of the sale. Whether the demo is a planned live demo using a direct connection to the Web or a series of screen shots used early in the sales cycle, here are nine recommendations:
- Prepare an outstanding opening value proposition. Show confidence, and make sure your value proposition includes you, your W2P service and your company’s unique value.
- Review what you will talk about and confirm with the customer. Before starting the demo, review what you will be covering and ask the customer is there anything else that they would be interested in seeing.
- Do more than describe features and advantages. Be sure to share with the customer your specific W2P advantages and how they will benefit them. If you have not already done so, talk with your production or prepress team to become familiar with your company’s W2P specific advantages. Then integrate them into your story.
- Keep your demo disciplined and crisp. The selling demo is part of the sales process. In addition to it being tailored to your customer, it needs to tell a story that is both interesting and engaging. Endless boring and non consequential features of your software that may interest some customers but does not interest your customer will only minimize your chances of differentiating your solution.
- Speak using clear, easy to understand language. Clearly explain any jargon, acronyms, or terms that the customer might be unfamiliar. If you are unsure of the customer’s comprehension of what you are saying, test for understanding by asking questions such as, “How do you currently use on line ordering in your organization?” A customer’s non-verbal reactions are often excellent indicators of confusion.
- Use questions or probes to get your customer talking. The best presentations and demos involve audience participation. You could ask, “Of the areas that I have just discussed, which areas interest you the most?” or “If we conducted a survey of intended W2P users, what information would be most useful to you?”
- Handle questions and objections as they come up. Don’t put off customer concerns to the end of the demo. Address them immediately. If you don’t, your customer will be less attentive to what you are saying.
- Summarize. Before you end, review the key points you presented and then ask if there is anything else they want to see.
- Close for the next step, and remain quiet until the customer responds. An important sales skill is closing. Don’t forget at the end of your presentation to close for the next step of the sale.
For many salespeople, the transition to web-enabled print services has been challenging. Because of the pervasive use of the Web, printing salespeople must adapt to new realities. Providing selling demos to customers has not been the traditional job of a printing salesperson…but it is now. Salespeople can gain an advantage for themselves and their companies by thoroughly knowing their W2P system and then be able to comfortably link the benefits of their system to their customer’s business and workflows.