| September 22, 2022
By David M. Fellman
When I was a kid, “You must need glasses!” was a pretty common insult. I remember saying it to other kids, and once to a Little League umpire. (That got me thrown out of the game!) It turns out, though, that many salespeople do need glasses. Specifically, they need rose-colored bifocals, because success in the modern marketplace requires good near vision, far vision and a fair share of optimism.
It’s been my experience that most salespeople don’t focus well on what’s in front of them. There’s usually some opportunity to gain more value from current customers. Notice that I didn’t say gain more business, but rather gain more value. I believe every current customer provides you with three levels of value: the value of what they’re buying from you now, of what they could be buying from you and of influence.
Working backwards, the value of influence is all about testimonials and referrals. When’s the last time you actually asked one of your customers for a testimonial or a referral? When’s the last time you got a real referral out of whatever networking group(s) you belong to?
The value of what they could buy from you is mostly about the breadth of your product line. Have you talked to every customer about every element of your product line? I’m not talking about that one conversation where you blasted out a list of everything you sell, or the time you said “think of me for anything you might put your logo on.” I’m talking about having specific conversations about each individual element of your product line. The more you try to cover in any one conversation, the less likely they’ll hear most of it — let alone all of it.
So how do you protect the value of what they’re buying from you now? The most obvious way to lose a customer is a quality or service failure, but more customers are lost because of something less expected. You know that your competitors are calling on your customers, right? That means you have to be calling on them too! But more than that, it means you have to call on them and bring value, not just taking it. “Do you need any print or promo today?” is not a value-based selling strategy.
We live in an age of almost-immediate gratification. I can order almost anything from Amazon and get it shipped for free within two days. But while you can buy very quickly, you can’t always sell very quickly. This is especially true when you must build trust, to the point where someone is willing to take the leap of faith and place a custom order with a new supplier. And make no mistake, that’s a significant leap!
With better far vision, you might realize it’s going to take time to get people to seriously consider buying from you. You’ll also realize that while there are no shortcuts, there are accelerators.
I read a study recently which noted that optimists tend to be more successful than pessimists. I hear a lot of pessimism from salespeople, though. This could be colored by that fact that most of my business involves working with underachievers, but I’m hearing a lot more about what’s not working than about what is.
Here’s a fact: there are people doing very well in printing and promotional products sales, even in a highly competitive market in a difficult economy. Why? I think better vision — near and far — is probably a big part of it. Do you need new glasses?
Dave Fellman is the president of David Fellman & Associates, Raleigh, NC, a sales and marketing consulting firm serving numerous segments of the graphic arts industry. Contact Dave by phone at 919-606-9714, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his website at www.davefellman.com.