Customer events and open houses are fantastic opportunities for print service providers to demonstrate new capabilities and engage customers. No other promotional or marketing effort can match the impact of interacting with customers in-person at your facility. You’ll have the full attention of attendees and ample opportunities to show them the benefits of working with your firm.
These carefully planned events also allow you to change notions people have about your company and give you a chance to show off the investments you’ve made to handle your customers print and digital communication demands. If changing customer relationships is part of your business plan, an open house or similar affair is an ideal way to launch the effort.
A Print Buyer Perspective on Typical Sales Calls
How would you like to learn how your sales force is doing – directly from prospective customers? Wouldn’t you like to find out what is going through buyers minds as they sit through the presentations tendered by your sales force?
We all know the print marketplace is changing, so print sales people must adapt. How is that working out? Are your salespeople giving customers what they need to encourage them to do business with you? Are you failing to sign business you ought to get?
In a new eBook from Gimbel & Associates, printing companies get a rare look into the minds of customers. We asked print buyers to tell us how they perceived the print service representatives that called on them. We wanted to find out what salespeople are doing right and where they need to improve.
We recently assisted one of our customers with a major business evolution to inkjet. The company migrated from a cut sheet toner printing environment to continuous roll-fed inkjet platform. It’s a journey becoming common as clients demand the flexibility inkjet provides and printing companies scramble to respond.
As your organization transitions from selling products and print jobs to selling solutions, your sales techniques must evolve. The ultimate value of a print solution is not the printed product. It is the actionable results that come from the print. These results help your clients grow and achieve their specific business goals.
This post is all about making those sales process changes. If you follow these guidelines, your sales performance will improve.
It Starts Before the First Sales Call
Before you begin calling on prospects, answer these questions:
Why do customers buy from your organization?
- What can you do that others cannot? What case studies or testimonials can you use?
- What skills or business practices differentiate you from competitors?
A typical print production organization encompasses several internal entities that are often distinct and isolated from one another. Among others, your company’s departments may include groups dedicated to marketing, creative, production, and data. In the past, disassociation among these groups was manageable. Some departments even found it acceptable to maintain mild adversarial relationships; they just didn’t see things the same way, but arms-length interactions didn’t influence the ability to do business.
Things have changed. Today’s most successful enterprises are reaping the benefits of bringing their internal groups together. They are creating a competitive advantage by speeding time to market and delivering high quality products in an environment where print service providers are forging deeper relationships with their clients. In this article we will concentrate on the ties between marketing and data.
Mailers are accustomed to postage rate increases in January, and the updates for 2018 followed a familiar pattern. Besides the rate increases, the US Postal Service is updating elements of the postal system. Industry analysts expect more developments soon. Mailers need to stay informed as the mailing business becomes increasingly driven by technology and data. Neglecting to keep up on postal developments can result in missed opportunities and unnecessary costs.
US law mandates the US Postal Service keep rate increases in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for market-dominant products like First Class letters and Marketing Mail. The law allows more pricing flexibility for parcel shipping services where the USPS competes with private carriers.
The CPI price cap keeps rate increases within a definable range, but that doesn’t mean the USPS assigns identical percentage increases across the board. Rate changes for individual classes and presort levels will vary with this latest price adjustment.
2018 postal rates
Departments in most companies often do their jobs independently. Marketing, creative, production and data groups exist in their own environments and are somewhat isolated from each other. Though this model has worked for a long time, things have changed in many verticals.
As print service providers migrate towards increasingly consultative relationships with their customers, coordination and cooperation among internal departments and external partners is becoming more important. Printers can distinguish themselves from the competition by delivering integrated solutions that produce measurable results. Customer situations are fluid and several departments and third-party partners must respond quickly to changing customer requirements. In this article we will concentrate on the relationship between creative and production teams.
Creative teams and production departments must collaborate to work out specifications and confirm they can produce the desired designs and formats within the allowed budget and turnaround timeframe. For complex projects the creative team may be at an agency or part of the end-customer’s organization and they must collaborate with a print service provider to execute a project or program. Without effective collaboration, the production team will waste time and money on changing designs and graphics, or suffer the impact of high production costs or unacceptable quality or turnaround times.
print service providers,
In April, 2017 the US Postal Service rolled out a new way for marketers to communicate with their audience. More than five million households subscribe to the free Informed Delivery service and the numbers are growing. With Informed Delivery, consumers receive daily emails containing scanned images of letter-size mail they will receive in their physical mailboxes later in the day.
Campaign effectiveness improves when marketers connect physical and digital channels. Informed Delivery is the easiest way yet to accomplish this feat. The program doubles consumer views of marketing material with no increase in cost or extra preparation. We’re advising print service providers to update their clients about this opportunity to increase direct mail effectiveness.
print service providers,
True leaders create an environment and culture where people can speak, question, and contribute. They are the people who listen to peers, partners, and subordinates without judgement; even in difficult conversations including “bad news” or critical comments. Effective leaders want others to express their honest opinions and find solutions in dialogue that support larger goals.
Inkjet Platforms Bring a New Level of Customization, Impact, & Effectiveness
High speed color inkjet can revolutionize a printing business, but printers won’t realize the most beneficial impacts of this technology by simply moving print from one platform to another. Profiting from inkjet requires effort in three separate areas of the workflow: data, print output, and finishing.
Though inkjet may bring new business to
a print service provider, most jobs processed on a new inkjet platform, at least in the beginning, are legacy applications. Printers developed these existing print jobs using then-current methods and technology. The legacy work is almost always a mixed bag of formats and processes. Print service providers will need to spend time on normalization and standardization as they prepare to introduce new inkjet platforms to their operations.
variable data printing,
Impact Sales Performance
Printing companies used tried and true sales strategies in the 80’s and 90’s, but those techniques are yielding fewer results today. Print service providers need new strategies to stand above the competition and attract business that spurs growth. At Gimbel & Associates we’ve been teaching print industry salespeople how to react to the ever changing business environment in which they find themselves, with great success.
The process is evolutionary. Companies don’t change overnight, but we’re sharing helpful tips that can have an immediate impact on sales performance. These ideas will encourage customers to say “yes” more often.
consultative selling, solution selling,
getting to yes,
Cross-Channel Audience Recognition
Customers may limit inquiries with print service providers to quotes on print projects, but nearly all your customers are implementing multi-channel or omni-channel marketing strategies. A recent Winterberry Group survey showed 72% of organizations in the study were actively pursuing cross-channel audience recognition as a key business priority.
Multi-channel may seem threatening or intimidating to companies that create print for a living. If you don’t have the experience and resources to handle multi-channel campaigns, how will you support your customers?
One answer is something comfortable and familiar: direct mail.
Printers operating without a MIS system are flying blind
It is easy to tell if a print operation is making money by looking at profit and loss reports. Not so simple is finding the information management needs to make decisions such as determining how much work they can add before purchasing new equipment or when to hire more people. And recognizing the point to adjust pricing for individual jobs or accounts is nearly impossible without a system to capture job level data and generate cost analysis reports.
In many shops, job cost data from the production floor is randomly collected and rarely reviewed. Making the task even harder, many shops use separate, unconnected processes to handle estimates, order entry, job scheduling, postage deposits, time tracking, inventory, and billing. Employees manually copy information generated by one software system into another, leading to errors and omissions. Real time data is unavailable, rendering informed daily production adjustments impossible.
In environments where managers cannot compare job-level costs to budgets or estimates, changing conditions or inefficiencies can make it possible to unknowingly lose money on jobs–and do it repetitively.
The Key to Success is in the Data
Helping non-profits reach their objectives for fundraising and retention requires print service providers to use a new approach; different from how they’ve interacted with customers for decades. Print vendors must dedicate more time to probing, analyzing, and testing than they might apply to traditional direct mail campaigns. A file of names and addresses imaged on pre-printed shells will not yield the desired results. The key to non-profit success is in the data.
A non-profit organization’s data could be outdated or in disarray. Print service providers may have to help their non-profit clients assess, augment, and use the data necessary to make their fundraising campaigns successful. It is important to do this work before attempting to design compelling variable data campaigns.
Start with an analysis of the data that exists within the non-profit’s donor databases:
- What information have they captured?
- Did they record the information in a consistent manner?
- Is information missing from some records?
- Are there known duplicates?
- Is the data centralized or is it spread across several departments or locations?
- How old is the data?