The What-If Question

By Mike Philie
In April 21, 2010

How well are you solving business communication problems for your clients? I’m not talking about marketing-based solutions, just “I use print to drive my business and I have issues with how I buy it, costs, on-line access, customization and personalization and distribution” problems.

Most commercial printers have a suite of capabilities to offer their clients that might include W2P and online storefronts, digital printing, some VDP, offset printing, data management, mailing, distribution services and fulfillment. Some are more sophisticated than others but most have some variation of these services. Your equipment can no longer be counted on to be the main differentiator. Your team and how well they are able to identify and solve a client problem through prescribing the right application of your equipment and services can become one of your strengths in the market.

A common sales frustration I hear is that “my clients don’t buy VDP” or that “they don’t do any fulfillment.” It may be that they don’t realize that those services could improve their overall efforts. The sales team needs to bring ideas to the client as a response to the business intelligence it has gathered about the client, how they use print, the industry they are in and their competitive position within their markets. Business problems aren’t always identified by a thing or process that is broken. They aren’t always spelled out in the RFP. Sometimes they only come to the surface when you begin asking what-if questions. Perhaps there might be a better way to get the job done and drive out costs through the application of your cool stuff and the integrated services you can offer.

If your sales process consists of straightforward transactions then this may not be applicable to you. If however you have client relationships with people who want to be helped, that involve more of a complex sales process with multiple buying influencer’s with different needs and priorities, this might be good for you to explore. As many print firms are striving to become marketing services providers, a good intermediary step might be to become a great business solutions provider first. The upside is that you can better utilize your current internal assets as well as expand your reach into your existing client base. Continued success.

Mike Philie

Mike works with printing companies that are not satisfied with their sales and business development performance, and are looking to get objective advice and strategic direction on how to improve the results of their business. His engagements can range from providing input on the overall sales strategy to building business development pipelines while training the processes of “selling” in today’s marketplace. Mike quickly establishes himself as a trusted resource and advisor to the owners and senior staff of his client companies through his personal involvement, and very quietly and effectively becomes an extension of their staff.

Leave A Comment