Sales Clinic: Selling Print Starts with Confidence

This is a good time to take stock in one’s own confidence level. Lately we are seeing a loss of the confidence in many printing salespeople. Previously confident printing salespeople have been shaken by a brutal economy that has seen millions of potential print users leave the workforce through downsizing or business closings. To make matters worse, there are the unrelenting changes in technology, pervasiveness of digital media, and stiff competition from other printers.

There is a large amount of research that confirms that confident salespeople outperform those who are less sure of themselves. Confident salespeople are more resilient to rejection, more persuasive, and believe in themselves.

Many print providers when interviewing new printing salespeople look for it, and most customers will not buy in large quantities unless they see it. Salespeople know they are exhibiting confidence when their customers fully trust their ability to provide outstanding products and services.


Maintaining Confidence in a Tough Market

Confidence in selling printing is much like it is in life. Self-esteem and self-efficacy are the essential ingredients. Self-esteem is when a salesperson believes in himself or herself as a person. Good self-esteem can be demonstrated through a calm and executive presence.

Self-efficacy is when one believes in their own skills and capability to support a customer’s communications requirements. The great coach, John Wooden describes this self-efficacy as “coming from faith in yourself in knowing that you are well prepared.”

If confidence is so important in sales then how do you get it or repair it?


Four Ways to Build Confidence

Here are four areas to build personal confidence:


1. Ooze Credibility

Displaying a competent and professional impression is a vital step in building confidence. Keeping up with and expanding knowledge of printing and uses of media is critical to building confidence. To do so, salespeople must have a deep knowledge of the company’s products, competing forms of media, customer and printing workflows, color, substrates, design, and file preparation.

For instance, if you are selling direct mail and cannot talk about databases or social media, you surely will be left behind. When selling print, knowledge builds credibility and credibility builds confidence.

Many top salespeople use sales tools with customers to build credibility. These include:

• Case studies

• Testimonials and referrals

• High impact print samples

• ROI analysis

• Industry trends

If you don’t have these developed within your organization, there are plenty of resources available through printing industry associations, trade shows, and at Also, some of the best ROI case studies, samples, and research we have seen have come from equipment and substrate suppliers.


2. Look and Act Like a Pro

Nothing can give a salesperson more confidence than knowing that they are well prepared, look good, and well dressed. Dressing well, looking good, and being on time are minimal actions that salespeople should pay attention to on every sales call.

Also, even experienced printing salespeople must keep their selling skills sharp. That means coming prepared on every sales call with questions, probes, answers, and value statements; all of which build confidence.

Time is a premium for everyone. Most customers are doing more with less. Customers expect their time to be respected and to receive up to date and accurate information.

A good way to build confidence on sales calls is to have well designed and professional looking presentations and proposals.


3. Get in Control

Another confidence builder is getting control of the sale. Leading the customer through a logical progression of steps that will result in a sale will provide a predictable roadmap for the salesperson.

For instance, it may only take one or two sales calls to close a small printing project. On the other hand, getting the printing work for a large advertising campaign may require more steps, including a formal presentation, a detailed proposal, proof of concept, and a pilot or test. Knowing what needs to happen and communicating this to the customer, builds confidence in the salesperson.


4. You Gotta Believe

In a competitive environment, it is almost impossible to be confident if the salesperson does not believe in their product or service. An optimistic and positive attitude can only be maintained if the salesperson understands and is committed to their offerings. If you don’t really believe print is an essential communication media, you are in the wrong job.

Having confidence in your product or service starts with knowing the customer’s business, who are their customers, and what will make both successful. It is hard to project confidence if the salesperson does not believe his or her solutions.

Selling confidently is a key to success. It is a rare person that can stay confident indefinitely. It requires work and commitment to selling and to the printing industry. Anything less can lead to loss of confidence and a loss of sales.


Joe Rickard is a training leader and consultant who works with printing and technology companies in the graphic arts to improve their sales and operational effectiveness. He is the founder of Intellective Solutions, a provider of customized sales, operational, and sales management training material and services. Contact him at 845-753-6156, or visit