Why you need to be selling print, WITHOUT selling print

By: Shawn Nag  |  Posted In: Fun Stuff, Print News  |  December 15, 2016

There has always been a propensity to sell print based on price. Yet we recognize that we also need to sell quality. And service. And value. A quick google search on the term: how to sell print, showed 136 million results. There is clearly no lack of information available on the topic.

But we’re still selling. To the tune of 136 million results. Printers are still being referred to as vendors; while we all know that the preference is to be referred to as print providers.

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So why is that? I started thinking about how many times I’ve been pitched based on price. Or heard the phrase “Give us a chance to quote”. “What was the winning bid? Let’s sharpen our pencils.”

The way I see it, a print vendor is someone who sells print.

But what if we stopped selling? What if we focused on knowledge-sharing instead? And by sharing knowledge, we develop relationships. And with those relationships come business. Now I know some of you may be rolling your eyes thinking, “Relationship selling has been around forever. This is nothing new.”

I recently took a survey, and one of the questions focused on what qualities you look for when choosing a print provider. You had to rank, from one to 5, what criteria you value most (like price, customer service, etc.). The problem is, you weren’t allowed to repeat a rank. That means I had to really think about what was most important to me when it comes to selecting a print vendor. And it made me realize that as much as I will always compare costs, it’s value FOR my dollar that matters most to me. Not just the pure dollar.

So I started to think about all the printers I’ve either worked for, or purchased from. I thought about the types of jobs I’d award to each. What character traits do I believe give me the most value for my dollar? Now imagine, as I said, how truly difficult it was for me to rank each unique trait. And choosing the least important was just as difficult as choosing the most.

As printers, how in the world are you supposed to know how to sell, if you don’t understand your customer’s needs? If THEY have difficulty pinpointing their own needs?

I don’t mean the printing needs. I mean the selection criteria needs. How can we go charging in on price, or service, or turnaround time, or whatever other characteristic we’re selling, if we simply don’t know what the buyer is buying? Of course if you are entering an RFP and know the decision comes down to price, then you know for a fact, price is what you are selling.

There are so many ways to share knowledge and develop professional relationships these days, particularly with social media. I learn a great deal about the people I work with on social media. Not just their professional LinkedIn profiles, but from the groups and communities they engage in. #printchat is an excellent example of how the personality of the community shines. Relationships have developed outside the tweetup to more personal platforms, like Facebook and Instagram. From there…well I think you get the point.

Sell when you know for a fact you are selling on price. The rest of the time? Be a Print Provider. Sell print. Without selling print.