“Oh, hey, I wanted to ask you the name of the flower shop your wife works at. Would she be involved in ordering any of those graphics they put in the windows or on the van? And while we’re at it, are any of you guys involved with the printing or graphics where you work, or could you give me the names of the people I should talk to? If you could – and if you could arrange to say something nice about me to them – I’d really appreciate it!”
The Morals of the Story
It was not my intention to glorify a Printing Salesman who spends time in bars or to moralize against him. The real morals of this story are that most salespeople do a poor job of explaining what they sell – what prospects and/or customers could be/should be buying from them – and that most salespeople also do a poor job of networking.
Starting with the networking issue, the development of new customers can start at any time or any place. It doesn’t have to be a “networking event” like a chamber or BNI meeting. Some of the best connections I’ve ever made began in purely social circumstances.
A piece of advice, though: Don’t push too hard in a social setting. You don’t have to! Exchange phone numbers and/or email addresses, which will allow you to connect again. All you really need to learn in the social setting is whether a person might be of value to you, either as a direct prospect, an influencer, or a referral/introduction source.
Now, moving on to the explanation of what you sell, most of the “elevator speeches” I hear need a lot of work. I’ve written before that most printing buyers are civilians – my term for people who don’t have professional knowledge of the printing industry. If all you say is that you sell printing, you’re leaving it up to them to define your product line. Would they know that printing in the 21st century includes posters, and banners, and window clings, and vehicle wraps? For that matter, would they know that your product line goes beyond letterhead, envelopes, and business cards to include catalogs, books, and manuals – and that your capabilities go way beyond that to include marketing services? Would they have any idea how different the quick printer of today is from the industry’s pioneers?
Here’s another piece of advice: If there’s anything you want people to know – about your products, your services, your own personal experience, your company’s history – you’ve got to tell them! Don’t leave it up to them to decide what they could be/should be buying from you.
And remember too that you can’t just tell. The best selling is an interrogatory process. I’ve written on that topic before, and I almost certainly will again.
Dave Fellman is the president of David Fellman & Associates, Cary, NC; a sales and marketing consulting firm serving numerous segments of the graphic arts industry. Contact Dave by phone at 800-325-9634, by fax at 919-363-4069, or by email at email@example.com. Visit his website at www.davefellman.com. See the ad for Dave’s products and services in this issue.