How to Lose a Print Sale (and never be invited back)

Posted by Roger P. Gimbel, EDP on Dec 16, 2022 11:37:16 AM
Roger P. Gimbel, EDP
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Anyone selling print today using the methods they learned ten years ago (or more) is going to runrejections into difficulties. The pandemic changed the way people feel about work and time. That’s what brought on the Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting phenomena. Print buyers, who may hold positions in marketing or the executive suite, place a high value on their time and they aren’t very tolerant of people who waste it.

It can take dozens of attempts to secure a meeting with a prospective customer. When you’re finally in the room with a decision-maker, don’t make mistakes that will cause them to end the meeting or deflect any attempts at following up.

What the Buyers Say

Seeing the sales process from the point of view of the buyer is incredibly important. That’s why we produced an eBook called “From the Other Side of the Desk”. We talked to print buyers and executives–the individuals print salespeople are likely to face when they finally secure an appointment to talk about their services. The feedback we got was revealing.

Buyers told us print salespeople visiting their offices were doing it all wrong. Conversations were unfocused (or focused on the wrong topics). The buyers had a hard time understanding why they should do business with the printing companies calling upon them.


To get a fresh perspective on the print sales process, download the free eBook HERE.

From other side of desk


We divided the book into three sections: preparation, presentation, and follow-up. In each section, you’ll read about actual experiences print buyers had with prospective printing company partners.

Here are some mistakes a salesperson can make that virtually guarantee a disappointing outcome:



Mistake #1 - Failing to take time to learn about the companies and individuals with whom you will meet. Just because the prospect has probably done research on your company before you set foot in their office, doesn’t mean you need to do the same. Just wing it when you get there.

Mistake #2 - Forgetting about preparing thoughtful questions or anticipating objections. You need to ask only one question after you make your pitch - “Well, what do you think?” Be ready to whip out your price sheet in case they say, “I’m ready to buy. How much does it cost?”


Preparing for the meeting includes identifying the client’s likely objectives. Why did they agree to meet with you? (Hint: It’s not getting the lowest price. If it is, you’re probably talking to the wrong person). You’ll also want to identify your desired outcome. Send a pre-meeting agenda and stick to it.



Mistake #1 - Starting the meeting by talking about your products and services. The prospect may not have a need for half the things you mention, but they probably won’t say anything, so just keep going to show them you really know your stuff.


Mistake #2 - Ignoring what the prospect is saying. Their objectives and business challenges are just distracting. Keep focusing on why you’re there—getting the order.


Steer conversations away from specifications such as print volumes, finishing, and paper stocks. Discuss the client’s business goals, such as customer acquisition, retention, conversion rates, upselling, lifetime customer value, regulatory compliance, and customer experience. Aligning your services with their business goals allows the customer to move forward with finalizing decisions.




Mistake #1 - Leaving follow-up to administrative people back at the office. Your job is selling new business, not nurturing them for expansion.

Mistake #2 - Ignoring the prospect’s buying process. It’s your sales regimen that’s most important. If customers insist on extra steps, it just slows everything down.


Everyone sends a thank you email after the sales meeting but the print buyers we interviewed said they were disappointed if post-meeting communications didn’t include guidance about the next steps. Follow-up notes are also great opportunities for showing you were paying attention and you have ideas about helping solve their problems. Include a piece of relevant content, like a research report or a case study, that is helpful as customers progress through their decision-making procedure.

We learned from the people on the other side of the desk that print salespeople had plenty of room to improve the way they approached a business about buying their products and services. These concepts are even more important today, given the experience of the last couple of years.


Download “From the Other Side of the Desk” and find out how the shoe fits once it’s on the other foot.


Topics: consultative selling, solution selling, news, selling print, print sales, print sales people, customer acquisition

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