buy1Print sales, in its basic form, is all about getting people to part with their money. Definitely a difficult task. The challenge, as always, is being able to turn yourself into someone that inspires prospects to whip out their credit cards. How do you convince them you are the person that they can trust to purchase printing services from?

Content Marketing World conducted a survey asking buyers what would make them engage with a sales representative. The results of the survey give us a pretty clear path as to what we can work on in 2015 to become that person that make prospects comfortable with writing us checks.

Likelihood to engage

  1. Be known as a thought leader in the print industry. The notion of thought leadership sales has emerged as a top priority with executives, in particular business-to-business sales managers.  Growth–starved printing firms are looking for ways to differentiate their customer experience with new ideas, education, relevant advice, and solutions that address unmet customer needs. So how does one become a thought leader? The principles are simple if you are consistent, set up a plan, and execute that plan.
    1. Know your industry better than anyone else. You can only achieve this by being connected to the industry. Set schedules for reading articles, blog posts, LinkedIn groups, books, and trade publications. Study hard and be ready to share the wisdom you have learned in your voice.
    2. Be a print industry information specialist. An information specialist is someone that we rely on to connect us with information. If you had a question about printing, who would you go to? Why would you go to them? Answer those questions, and be that person to your prospects and customers.
    3. Have a unique point of view or stance. The worst thing you can do is study hard, and be an echo of someone else. Develop your own voice and style. They share ideas and thoughts from their point of views. If people know you for having a sense of humor, use that in posts and writings. Be unique and tell people who you are and what makes you passionate.
  2. Be introduced through someone in a personal network. It’s all about that referral. Sales are based on trust. No one is going to hand you cash unless they trust you. There is no easier way to gain trust than through the referral of a friend or associate. So how do you go about getting those referrals? Here are a few tips.

    1. Be referable. To get referrals, you need to be referable. No one will pass on your name if you don’t have integrity. Ensure that you deliver what you promise, when you promise – and that you actually deliver value to your clients.
    2. Include a “Referrals Appreciated” blurb in your print or email newsletter. Be sure to describe what an ideal referral looks like for you.
    3. Proactively refer people to your clients. Let them know that you’ve done so and that you’d appreciate the same.
    4. Treat the vendors and suppliers with which you do business as partners. Make sure they’re aware of who you help and the services you provide.
    5. Treat your customers as partners, too. Let them know you view them as a strategic partner, and tell them you hope they’ll do the same with you. Create formal channels to share referrals.
    6. Give your fans the tools they need to refer you. Printers sometimes have people tell them they want to refer them, but they don’t know how to explain what they do. A good tool is to create a website for referrals and testimonials. Have a link to it in your email signature, and give copies of a PDF document posted there to people who are interested in referring you.
  3. Provide insights or knowledge about your business. Insights help your customers discover problems (or opportunities) that they didn’t know they had. The purpose of an insight is not to confuse, but to illuminate. Unlike traditional sales tactics,  the insights themselves provide something of intrinsic value to the customer. Insights teach the customer something that you want them to learn, but have inherent worth so that, in the extreme case, a customer should be not be adverse to paying for the insight itself. Traditional sales messages tend to address just the need that the buyer has identified. Remember, that is what all of your competitors are doing as well, so it is hard to differentiate.

As much as your solutions need to remain on buyers’ minds, so do you as a sales rep. When a buying process finally begins, a salesperson whose name is familiar and trusted to the buyer will be in a much better position to be “shown the money.”  Be trusted, get referrals, provide strong insights, and customers will be willing to buy from you.