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Proactive Sales Strategies

PSP Proactive Sales Strategies for 2023

December 12 2022 | By Rod Lowe | Blog

Print service providers, when was the last time you asked your clients about the journeys their customers take before they become buyers? Do you know what steps occur between basic awareness and contract commitment? Knowledge like this can help you suggest ways your products and services can keep their future customers engaged and moving towards purchase decisions.

Dale Carnegie (1888-1955) once said: “Success in dealing with people depends on a sympathetic grasp of the other person’s viewpoint.” Carnegie, a writer and lecturer, developed courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills.

Consultative selling approaches have been main-stream popular since at least the 1980s. Sellers still use these value-added techniques because they work well and can be highly effective. The difference today is the needs-based sales approach was once optional. “Now, it’s mandatory,” contends graphic-arts sales guru Bill Farquharson. And, the strategy remains rather simple.

“Sales people often lament over business, and they can solve their problems by solving the customer’s [problems],” advises Farquharson, who is an industry coach, author, and speaker. “We all need leads, marketing, and pitches. But finding out about our customers’ sources of business and where their leads come from requires a different approach.”

In his coaching role, he works with sales representatives, sales managers, and selling owners of all ages, skills, and experience levels. The key to selling consultatively, Farquharson says, is to make the experience about learning. “Don’t approach these customer meetings as ‘sales calls,’” he instructs. “Take it to a different level. They should be conversations about growth strategy.”

“Dive deep,” Farquharson continues, and ratchet the line of questioning up a notch to really get the customer thinking:

  • Do you want to focus on obtaining more customers next year?
  • Do you want to grow your existing accounts in 2023?
  • Do you want to explore new market opportunities?

A bank that branches into selling life insurance is an example of the third query. “It’s as simple as letting their end customers know what they can do,” Farquharson notes. The up-sell opportunity is they may need an integrated marketing strategy to help them spread the word in print and online.

Hold Your Cards

While your firm may offer services and products that help clients convert leads into customers, Farquharson warns “not to play that card too early.” It could be obvious that they need postcards printed for a direct-mail campaign or help with literature fulfillment. They may also need signage for in-person events or sponsorships. “Don’t fall into sales mode too quickly,” he adds. Instead, act like a reporter and start with basic “who, where and what” questions:

  • Who are their best prospects?
  • Where do they come from?
  • What makes an ideal prospect?

Take the process slowly and respond that “you’ll get back to them with some ideas,” he suggests. At that point later on, you can add a “by the way” that you can provide postcards, fulfillment, signage, etc. should they require them.

Think of consultative sales as an exercise in problem-solving. “It shouldn’t feel like sales if it is done correctly,” Farquharson explains. “You have to ease into it. Plus, it’s fun!”