In every print-based sale, from a simple brochure to a complex cross media campaign, printing salespeople must be able to justify the sale financially. Creating the coolest or most interesting print program in itself is not enough to close business. Every order requires the ability to sell the job financially, as well as convince the customer that the printer has the ability to print the job well.
Whether it is justifying the cost of print by providing the lowest price, comparing achieved benefits, using an ROI calculation, or showing a fast financial payback, great print salespeople are skilled at selling financial value.
When comparing printers or different media options, there is relentless scrutiny by print buyers and their management to keep costs down. With all the discussion on value and ROI, many times it just comes down to cost.
To make matters worse, there is a perception by buyers that it is easier to generate good financial metrics with digital media. This alone is a good reason why print salespeople need to know the value of print integrated with and/or versus digital media.
The Print Sales Process
Does a printing salesperson need to be a financial expert? No, but it is helpful to know how to explain the profit, revenue, and cost implications of print. And it is critical for salespeople to be able to justify any print expense using some form of financial comparison or measure.
Most buyers of media seldom start with a required ROI or payback. It usually starts with some strategy or business objective. The printer’s offerings must meet the customer requirements for the type and style of print. Then the discussion will almost always move to the cost versus benefit analysis. Here the print salesperson must know what is being measured and who is making the decision.
Here are 10 steps to sell financial benefits of a print solution:
1. Keep it simple. Use the facts and figures that the customer provides. Using their financial requirements is the surest way to gain customer interest.
2. Get there early. The salesperson who helps to organize the customer’s financial requirements that are favorable to the printer gains a huge advantage. For instance, a printer that can manage Web response rates of a direct mail program will get an advantage.
3. Use what is important to the customer. A customer may find it interesting to see complicated computations developed by the printer for other customers. Ultimately, the customer will be most interested in their business and what is important to them.
4. Use standard and vendor provided tools. Most customers will appreciate metrics, results, and costs expressed in ways that are financial and industry-wide standards. This will make it easier for them to gain internal approvals. Most printer manufacturers and software providers have outstanding tools to help printing companies sell print programs. Also, the USPS has great tools for printers.
5. Keep your predictions realistic. Don’t oversell potential results of campaigns and programs. Making or over achieving a modest prediction will keep the customer coming back for more.
6. Reinforce with case studies, best practices, and testimonials. There is no question about it. Research consistently tells us that reference and testimonial selling is the most powerful sales tool available.
7. Sell beyond the price. Price is only a piece of value. Gain agreement early in the sales process on what is really important to customers and what will make them successful.
8. Focus on what can be measured. Quality and desired results are nice, but are very difficult to measure. Focus on simple metrics that can be measured, even if the customer ultimately does not measure them. For instance, sales, incremental sales, profit, and response rates are all good and measurable metrics.
9. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. As customers realize that Web-only programs or iPad collaterals are not generating results, it may not be necessary to completely eliminate these legacy programs. Add print to the mix, then measure the improvements.