Sell Workflows That Result in Printed Artifacts
Print is an artifact of a business process/workflow. You should get very curious about the overall workflow so that you can provide more value than just the print. This is the path to embedding your services with a customer and increasing the areas where you can add value.
Every printed piece is a part of a larger customer workflow. As an industry, we do ourselves no favors by trying to sell print like it was THE most important thing to the customer. Print is a part of a workflow. It might be the most important part to you (the printer), but it’s not about you. It’s about your customer, that human, who belongs to an organization, that pays you for your services and is generally responsible for keeping the lights on and gas in your boat.
The printed piece is a part of a workflow. Stop selling print and start selling workflows.
What the heck does this mean and where do I start?
The very first place to start is for you (the printer) to get curious about what workflow the print requests from your customers actually belong to. If you’re a labels and packaging printer, this is rather obvious. The customer is producing a product, that product requires branded/compliance packaging – your printed labels are part of the manufacturing workflow. What if you’re doing direct mail for a university? You need to ask some more questions about the workflow. Is this a recruitment piece? Is it a fundraising piece? What are the steps that happen before and after the direct mail piece? What is the objective of the overall workflow?
The first step in selling workflows is to understand / learn about the workflow that print participates in. Once you learn about the workflow (steps, objectives, timelines, people involved, etc.), then you can start looking for ways in which you can be MORE involved in that workflow. What is the most painful part of the workflow for your customer? Is there anything you can do before or after the printed piece that would make the workflow less painful?
When you walk into an organization and sell print, you are leading with what’s most important to you. Prospects and customers entertain sales pitches for one reason – they are interested in what you can do for them. This means you must at least fake interest in their problems! It is way better to care and be authentically interested but if you can’t do that, you should learn how to fake it. The easiest place to start is by looking at your current customers. Can your sales team tell you anything about the workflow that the current print business is part of? Do they know what happens before and after the print? Do they know what the overall objective of the printed piece is? Do they know what stresses their customers out on a daily basis about this workflow?
When you start with this behavior change for existing customers you are subconsciously planting the seed in your sales team to start thinking this way when they are talking to prospects. This makes them better sales people because it puts the focus on the customer where it belongs.
The most interesting thing about using this “selling workflows” methodology is when you are thinking about how to strategically grow your business. The growth strategy; hire more sales, sell more print doesn’t work anymore. You need a more strategic growth strategy which includes finding and dominating a “niche market” which will consist of guess what – workflows! Look for business workflows that produce print artifacts. For example, Mimeo has been focusing on the corporate training market for years. They understand that market, they have embedded themselves into training platforms so that when training departments need print – they can get it from Mimeo from within the platform they use to manage corporate training.
Start selling workflows now by getting your sales team to be more curious about their customer’s objectives, pains, and overall business workflow. When looking for new business dig into workflows that produce print as an artifact, research that workflow and figure out how you can add value to, make it easier on the people who “work” that workflow for a living.