SELLING print requires knowledge and a specific skill set and remains a vital part of the industry.

Recently, New Zealand Printer magazine publisher Printer Magazines Group, in association with PrintNZ, brought US print sales expert, and monthly columnist Dave Fellman to New Zealand and Australia, to present a series of one-day sales courses.

Acknowledged as a world leading print sales trainer, Fellman teaches print sales, sharing a lifetime of success in the field. Seriously successful, at a time when many struggle, he takes an analytical approach to every area of print sales, from identifying potential prospects to organising his desk

He spent a day with Kiwi print professionals at the Crowne Plaza in Auckland. PrintNZ supported the day with general manager Ruth Cobb and membership coordinator Heather Letfus attending. Konica Minolta sponsored the event, which welcomed participants from as far away as Nelson, Christchurch, and Palmerston North, as well as the Waikato and some Aucklanders.

A fundamental dinosaur

FELLMAN  covered a range of sales issues and impressed his audience with his direct approach and practical suggestions. He delivered advice on the language to use and how to effectively communicate with customers.

Participants who attended the event received electronic copies of Fellman’s book Listen to the Dinosaur. He explained the title, saying, “An attendee at a seminar called me a dinosaur. The attendee said to me, ‘I came here looking to find some new ideas. You didn’t teach me anything about selling comprehensive solutions at the C-Level in the digital age and arena, just the same old prospect-and-follow-up-and-ask-good-questions crap I’ve been hearing from my boss. Dinosaurs are extinct, man, and you’re not helping me any by telling me to sell like one.’

“Now, this particular salesperson was sent to my seminar because he’s an underachiever, plodding along at about 60 per cent of his employer’s expectations after a year and a half on the job. I think he’s a whole lot closer to being extinct than I am.

“But that’s not what I want to talk to you about. I think a lot of salespeople are looking for a new way to sell, because their perception is that the old way isn’t working anymore. This isn’t a new phenomenon; it’s probably been happening as long as there have been salespeople. Times change, products and services change, technology changes — so the fundamentals of selling must change too, right?

“I disagree. I think that the more people look for a new way to sell, the farther they get from the fundamentals. And that’s why their method of selling isn’t working. “I believe in fundamentals. I also believe in creativity. And that’s what I want to talk to you about. But the fundamentals come first, and if that makes me a dinosaur, well then, maybe you should listen to the dinosaur.”

Value and pain

FELLMAN moved on to a conversation on value; moving on the print sales cycle and how to drive it as opposed to just ride it. He also covered the theory behind sales and time management and organisation.

He discussed value and pain for customers, pivot points which can decide a sale, and win print work from competitors. He said, “Value, service, and price. Customers always want those three things, and it is a running joke for print providers to say pick two.

“I would rather focus on value and customer service, and charge a premium price for a premium service. Essentially, what you are really asking a new customer is to trust you. Value, service, and price are promises when they are not familiar with you. So the question the customer is really asking themselves is, do I trust this person?

“If you tell someone you are going to call them, or follow up, do not be shy to explicitly remind them you are following up on your promise when you do. Say Hi, I am Dave from Dave’s Printing, I said I would get in contact with you, and here I am.

“The great salespeople do not do one big thing; they master the little things that can make big differences. This is one of those little things, we are trying to convince them to trust us, so we remind them that we made a promise, and we are keeping it.”

“Should you be responsive at the same level to everybody? To every situation? Is every customer equal in terms of the service level, time, responsiveness, and reliability you should provide them? Is every prospect equal in that regard? We would like to think so. But, if you have more things to do than time to do them, you have to prioritise. Sometimes the right thing to do is to ignore a situation and do it when you can, even if it means someone is going to get mad at you.”

“I am here teach you something about being better salespeople; better, more efficient, salespeople. I hope to show you what it means to be a great salesperson.”

The events welcomed leading print personalities in Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney. Those who attended noted the back-to-basics focus on prospecting, and appreciated the veteran print salesman’s system for working out how much time needs to be devoted to prospecting to achieve sales targets.

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