We extend a special thank-you to Leslie Groene, President, Groene Consulting, for contributing this information. Leslie is a keynote speaker at the 2014 Print Leadership Summit.

“Treat others as you like to be treated.” This little piece of fundamental advice our mothers gave us can be a giant step to success, and it applies to the business world as well. Sales can pose a huge challenge to many printing and graphic arts companies whose best clients can easily take their business elsewhere. So what is a key way to make them stay?

One answer is exceptional customer service. Offering engaging, customized service that focuses on the customer allows you to stand out from your competitors, gain your clients’ trust, and ultimately increase your sales.  

Your sales team is one of the “necessary pillars” of the print business, as Leslie Groene explains in her keynote session, “Does Your Business Have the Right Pillars in Place?” at the first ever Print Leadership Summit, June 2–3, 2014. The job of your sales team is to prospect and develop and maintain profitable relationships with clients. Help them not only reach your top clients, but hold on to them with these 10 best practices:

1.     Do your daily and weekly homework and stay current on all aspects of your product or services.

Stay one step (or more) ahead and anticipate your client’s needs. Read about their business, their industry, and their products and services. A great way to gain a client’s trust is to understand the challenges they face and the environment they live in.

2.    Go the extra mile in serving your client’s needs.

To maintain or build stronger relationships with your clients, listen to their needs and follow through on all action items. Keep consistent communication and address any concerns the moment they arise. Best practices include sending handwritten thank-you notes and personally delivering proposals to your customers.

3.    Deal with the challenge of cold calling.

First follow any regulations regarding who you may contact and when, but also keep looking for more opportunities to reach out to potential customers. Some great ways to accomplish this are:

  • Send a company newsletter.
  • Call clients who would benefit from the latest update or technology.
  • Network within your industry and community.

4.    Determine who the real players are and find a way to get their attention.

It may be easy to spot the movers and shakers in your industry, but how do you reach them? If you did your homework (see step 1), you can find the door to make a connection. What trade organizations are they involved in? Do they support any causes or groups? Find what interests them and place yourself in a position to reach them.

Another option is to take the more direct approach and just tell them what your company can do for them. But remember to play the odds and only pursue those that you feel would see potential in your offer.  

5.    Fall in love with people, not projects.

It’s easy to get personally involved in certain projects, but keep your ROI in mind. Assess if the time, money, and effort you’re putting into a project will pay off. It’s important to remain objective—for you and your clients! Your responsibility, to your client and yourself, is to keep your main goals on target.

6.    Get in your client’s face!

If you want to build a relationship with your client, you have to BE THERE! Selling is all about relationships. You’ve already invested the resources to earn their business and their trust. Now stay in contact. This means quality, face-to-face time such as a lunch meeting. Look for new ways to get in front of your client so you’re always a welcome partner.

7.    Creating a newsletter will get you in front of potential clients.

Another way to stay visible is by sending a regular newsletter. Use it as a way to help your clients find new information that pertains to their business needs. Ideally, many of these resources will come from your firm. Whether print or online, make sure your distribution list is up to date.

8.    The power of word-of-mouth referrals.

One of the most effective forms of promotion, a word-of-mouth referral, usually will get you the business. Look at your profession in a long-term view and pay close attention to the details in serving your clients’ needs better.

9.    Develop a sales approach to your buyers that WORKS.

You’ve built trust with your clients by consistently representing their best interests. Remember that it’s about more than just meeting sales quotas; it’s delivering the highest value possible to your clients. Master your sales practice so you can provide the highest degree of business intelligence for your customers.

10.   “Network…network…network!”

Get to know the top professionals in your industry and build relationships. Do your homework and get to the trade shows and conferences where you can meet them. Seek the events that deal with the issues that will challenge your industry. Not only will you stay up to date, but you’ll also discover many top professionals there searching for solutions—solutions you can offer to them!

The premier Print Leadership Summit, held June 2–3, 2014, at the Fairmont Dallas Hotel, in Dallas, TX, is no ordinary conference. It’s where industry leaders convene and learn how to transition through the hard times.

Take part in three tracks that hit on the key focus areas for today’s evolving companies: Leadership—ideal for Presidents, CEOs, and other top executives; Sales—for top sales and marketing executives; and Technology—geared for technology leaders and upper management.

Register today at www.printing.org/printleadershipsummit.