There are always customer concerns that must be answered during the printing sale. If they are not handled correctly, the sale is lost. Common concerns of the customer may be questions, misunderstandings, and actual objections to doing business with a specific print provider. Each year we ask salespeople what are the toughest objections they face in closing business. It is amazing how similar they are year in and year out.
Price tops our list. Based on our surveys, it is not surprising that price concerns continue to hit our number one customer objection list. However, a change in the last few years is objections about print’s role and effectiveness in marketing campaigns.
Silent objections are deadly. We are interested in customer objections because it is often the difference in getting business or not. Most salespeople face the same three or four objections in virtually all their accounts. A customer’s feeling or impressions that are not openly specified can be deadly for a salesperson. Not being perceptive enough to sense this type of objection can lead to a stalled or lost deal.
In every case, the salesperson must listen carefully to their customer, skillfully clarify their objection and handle it with ease and confidence. An expert salesperson will probe the customer to uncover their concerns that they do not directly state. To handle most concerns, salespeople must be up to date in all areas of communications and industry trends and provide the customer with the confidence that their company is fully capable.
Printing salespeople can expect hearing directly or silently some or all of these half-dozen objections in their accounts on every call:
1. Your Price Is Too High
The dreaded price question can come up at any time of the sale. The first step is to understand why a customer feels your prices are too high. In many cases the customer may not be comparing similar products or have a misconception about your pricing program. Whatever the reason, it is always better to take a step back, understand and then calmly and professionally answer their price objection.
2. I Do Not Think You Can Do It
Customers are often concerned with their print provider’s capability to manage complex, large and cross-media and multi-channel offerings. Printers, agencies, and marketing services companies are struggling to keep up and gain proficiency in new areas. It is a great practice to come prepared with case studies, testimonials, samples. and best practices to help counter capability concerns.
3. I Tried It and We Did Not Get Any More Business
It is frustrating when a customer fails to see the value of a solution. Print providers offering personalized print, cross-media and new services often face customer concerns about their return on investment. Being ready with proof in the form of financial data, case studies, testimonials, and best practices are vital to handling concerns about the worth of venturing into a new type of campaign or program.
4. I Am Happy With My Current Printer(s)
Customer complacency is a very common objection. Customers often push off salespeople by saying they are happy with what they have because they do not want to be bothered with switching vendors. This objection is usually presented at the beginning of the sales process. Being armed with proof sources, customer references, and examples can open up the customer to hearing a new approach.
5. We Don’t Have the Time or People
With everyone being shorthanded and workers being stretched to the limit, customers are often reluctant to listen to new ideas and programs. Many companies in fact do not have the expertise or bandwidth to manage large print programs. Great salespeople can meet these objections by being prepared to offer a clear roadmap to solutions that are easy to implement or can be done in stages. In some cases, print providers may offer to completely manage the program for the customer.
6. Print Is Becoming a Relic and Is Being Replaced By Digital Media
Concerns about print cost and print effectiveness are often reinforced by competing digital media providers. Printing salespeople can be assured there is a large complement of competitors pitching alternatives to print. The good news for printing salespeople is that there are numerous proof sources from industry associations that demonstrate the awesome future and ROI of print standalone and multichannel programs.
Savvy customers, tougher competitors, and a constant array of new printing products and services have made it imperative for great printing salespeople to be prepared for any objection. If a salesperson can persuasively handle these six customer concerns, it is likely they will have a response that can be used to manage similar concerns.
A great practice for any print provider is for owners, managers, and salespeople to meet regularly and to prepare by developing effective responses to any concerns that may be brought up by customers.
Joe Rickard is a training leader and consultant dedicated to the graphic communications Industry. He is a printing industry expert and works with printing and technology organizations to improve their sales and operational effectiveness. Joe founded Intellective Solutions LLC (www.intellectives.com) to serve the printing market. Intellective Solutions Inc. provides consulting and training material and services. He can be reached at 845 753 6156. Follow me on Twitter @joerickardIS