What my client actually said was “I’m not getting very much in the way of satisfaction from this.” What I heard in the soundtrack section of my brain was da da, da da daaaaah. I’m pretty sure Mick Jagger and Keith Richards weren’t thinking about printing sales when they wrote “Satisfaction” back in 1965, but the sentiment is probably familiar to everyone in sales.
So here’s the question, if you’re not getting much in the way of satisfaction from your sales efforts, what should you do?
The answer to that question probably has something to do with your approach to selling or your expectations for success. So let’s start off with those expectations and understand that you can’t sell to everyone. I wish you could. But the fact is that selling is a numbers game that is stacked against the salesperson from the beginning.
Why? Let’s start with the fact that everyone already has a printer and some of them are solids, which means that they’re simply not going to change the way they do things (see “Customers Up For Grabs”, QP, February 2010). Let’s also consider that some people’s default position is “Hell No!” when it comes to even talking to a salesperson. Finally, let’s add in the potential for people being legitimately busy when you happen to call them. All of those things together are a recipe for rejection and frustration—and that doesn’t even consider the damage you may be doing to yourself with poor selling strategy!
I’ve found that most salespeople need some attitude adjustment in this regard, so here’s what I suggest. Stop swinging for the fences. Start celebrating anything that moves the ball forward. Yes, I know that I’m mixing my sports metaphors, but I hope the message is clear. Selling is a process. It takes time to build the kind of relationship that benefits both the seller and the buyer, and that’s the only kind of relationship you should be seeking.
Another client’s strategy had been to make 25 cold calls each day. He was a brand new hire when he started with me, and he’d been working with this strategy for a couple of weeks—at which point he went to his boss and said, “I don’t think I’m right for this job. I can’t get anyone to talk to me.”
I put him on a program where he continued to identify 25 suspects every day, but instead of a cold call asking to speak with the person who buys the printing, he started saying, “I’d like to send some information about my company to your company. Can you tell me who to send it to, and give me that person’s email address?”
His success rate getting names and email addresses has been running better than 80 percent. The next step is to send an introductory email. His success rate getting people on the phone after that email has still been pretty low, running between four to seven percent. But remember, he wasn’t getting anyone on the phone with his old strategy!
Right now we’re working on his voice mail strategy, scripting a couple of (hopefully) compelling messages that will get a few more people to return his calls. Our goal is to get him to the point where he actually gets to talk with 10 to 12 percent of his suspects. That may not seem like a high success rate, but it’s a good success rate, especially considering the way this game is stacked against a salesperson.
Here’s one more thing to think about. You won’t be successful if you don’t make enough calls to make the numbers game work for you. I think that simple fact defeats more salespeople than anything else, especially selling owners. So remember something else that Jagger and Richards told us back in the 1960s. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need.
A few new customers?
Dave Fellman is president of David Fellman & Associates, Cary, NC; a sales and marketing consulting firm serving the graphic arts industry. Contact him at 800-325-9634 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See the ad for Dave’s products and services in QP and visit www.myprintresource.com/10004781.