Printers say the craziest things.

While that isn’t the name of a new Podcast From The Printerverse series, it might as well be. I have heard some doozies as of late and they are worth sharing for two reasons. The first so I am not alone in the horror, and the second so all of you can benefit from better relationships with customers. Be prepared to scream, even if just in your head.

how to successfully follow up with customers and prospects

“NO VENDOR HAS FOLLOWED UP WITH ME FROM PRINTING UNITED 2019.”

I made that all caps so I didn’t have to repeat it and we can skip right to WHAT THE F? ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!?! Unfortunately, I am not.

In this episode of the #PrinterChatPodcast titled Events and Equipment Acquisition Tips, we were discussing shopping for equipment when there are no shows and Jamie McLennan, aka #JamieThePrinter, unleashed that statement. To be fair, in one or two cases there was an email after the show thanking him for visiting the booth, and then nothing. N.O.T.H.I.N.G. The responsibility became his to communicate any further, learn about products and services he looked at and discussed with multiple people in the booth, and reach out for questions or sales help.

Is that a follow-up process? One email?

There have been 18 months without shows. Equipment manufacturers and service providers have been doing online meetings, demos, and events to wait for it …capture leads. There is a good chance these companies have a lot of good leads from past shows, and good people, they are ignoring. Why are they being ignored?

If anyone shows interest in your business, whether they stopped by your booth or came to your business, website and/or connected on social media, it is your responsibility to keep the interaction going. Keep leads interested through ‘did you know” information skewed towards the benefits that specific person/company will get if they invest in your offerings. Send them market information about their vertical, relevant articles from trade media, invite them to relevant online and offline events.

Worst case they opt-out of future communications. Best case, they don’t and since no one else is putting in the follow-up work you will certainly stand out as someone who cares… unlike the vendors who tossed Jamie away.

“I HAVE NO TIME TO PROSPECT”

That came from the Graphic Media Alliance Leadership Conference during Bill Farquharson’s session titled “The Four Keys to Sales Success.” As a sales strategy, it didn’t go over very well.

Many print businesses are under significant pressure to keep their current customers happy and buying and not going somewhere else for goods and services. Customer retention is certainly critical, but that can’t be the only focus of the sales team. Bill put this in the time management column and suggested that printers create a to-do list for the next workday so they can start it with a plan that includes new business development time and following up on previous exchanges with prospects.

The four steps Bill outlined were simple to implement and seemed like a rational and productive use of time to generate sales results. Connect with him and ask him to share!

“BUYERS DON’T WANT TO HEAR FROM ME”

This was in an email asking me for advice on how to follow up when the customer goes dark. I hope you are all asking the same question in your head as I am about to type… WHY did the customer go dark?

Let’s put aside the pandemic and the chaos it has caused with remote working, layoffs, mergers, illness, and more. Some customers may or may not resurface. We are 18 months into this and by now I hope you have a pretty good grip on who is still around and who isn’t.

Focusing on who is, what are you attempting to communicate about?

In 2020 printing was deemed an essential industry, marketing was not. In 2021, marketing has become an essential lifeline to help businesses do more business and, in some cases, keep businesses open. This essential marketing requires essential dollars and essential data showing pathways to ROI for spending them.

Consider this as a follow-up for customers you think don’t want to hear from you…

Hi Deborah, I hope this email (voicemail) finds you well.

 

We have been doing extensive research and gathering intel on marketing programs over the last 6 months that have been generating positive results for small businesses by attracting and bringing in new customers.

 

If you can spare 20 minutes, I’d love to set up a strategic planning meeting to understand your financial goals for the first quarter of 2022. I will take the information to my team and circle back with a workable plan for how we can achieve them, together.

Tweak as you need. Substitute small businesses with specific verticals, substitute bringing in new customers with the primary need of that specific business you are contacting. This isn’t a spray and pray, one email fits all exercise. Highly targeted and precise communication about that customer (or prospect) signals that you have relevant knowledge about their current needs. Asking for the meeting shows it’s about helping, not selling, and the request for their input fosters the opportunity for ongoing collaboration.

I am going to follow up on this… TRUST ME!

More posts from Deborah


DeborahCorn-PrintMediaCentrDeborah Corn is the Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse™ at Print Media Centr, a Print Buyerologist™, industry speaker and blogger, host of Podcasts from The Printerverse, the cultivator of Print Production Professionals the #1 print group on LinkedIn, Girl #1 at GirlsWhoPrint, host of #PrintChat every Wednesday at 4 PM ET on Twitter, the founder of International Print Day and the founder of #ProjectPeacock. She is the recipient of several industry honors including the 2016 Girls Who Print Girlie Award and sits on the board of The Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi and is on the Advisory Board for the Advertising Production Club of NYC.

Deborah has 25+ years of experience working in advertising as a Print Producer. She currently provides printspiration and resources to print and marketing professionals through PMC and works behind the scenes with printers, suppliers, and industry organizations helping them create meaningful relationships with customers, and achieve success with their sales, social media, and content marketing endeavors.

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