How many times have you tried to sell print services to a customer only to be told “ABC Company can give me the same quantity for cheaper?”
This may be true, but the problem does not lie with ABC’s pricing, but rather with you. If you believe that printing services are a commodity, then by all means lower your prices until the race to the bottom puts you out of business.
If you’d rather grow your business and customer base, then keep reading.
This paradigm that print is a price-based commodity paralyses many print professionals, who believe that unless they can offer 250 business cards for free like VistaPrint they will not make the sale. They open with price, and then for the rest of the conversation they “sell by apology” attempting to justify their pricing with detailing the cost of consumables. Or else they try to blind the customer with “science” detailing the technical aspects of presses, coatings and bindery.
But in the complex world of print and mail, pricing is not critical, the customer’s needs are.
Repeat: pricing is not critical, the customer’s needs are.
Consequently, pricing should be discussed at the end of the sales cycle, not the beginning. Why? Because the customer isn’t buying print, they are renting a marketing partner to grow their own business.
Take something simple as a business card. When the customer emails or calls you, he or she isn’t thinking “I want a c1s, 12 pt, 4/4 card on 12 pt stock for under $100.00”, they are thinking “I need a quality card that I can give out at my next event or sales visit so I can better close accounts.”
They’re focus is on the end result of the job, not the job itself. Customers don’t give a rat’s behind about what types of presses, laser printers, or inkjet machines you are using, they care about having their needs fulfilled.
So why would they want to wait until the end of your pitch to discuss price? Because they are relying on you, the consultant to give them value and provide alternatives, or additional products they may not have even thought of to fulfill that need.
It is your job to determine this need and provide the value to address it. You need to actively listen and focus the discussion on them, not your shop’s abilities.
Using our business card example again. Why not ask the customer requires these for a new hire or for an upcoming tradeshow event.
If they are for a new hire, what is this new person’s role in the company? If the new hire is a sales person or marketer, the customer will most likely need additional marketing materials created and printed to support their efforts.
If they are for an upcoming event, you can now consult with the client for bundling this job with printing their leave-behind marketing piece, brochure, or flyer.
Now you’re selling value, and can turn the smallest customer into a larger one, and have emphasised in their mind that you are a “problem-solving partner”, rather than a print technician.
Would opening with price had led you to this relationship? No.
Print is no longer just ink on paper, it’s a business relationship in which both parties need to profit from in order to continue.
What Can I Do Today?
For the next 20 sales calls, leave price until the end of the conversation, and try to think a few steps ahead to the business result the customer wishes to accomplish with the job.
If that’s too hard, then just ask the customer straight out what their goals are. Get involved in their thinking process and get them excited.