What makes you so special?

differentiation

There is a term that is tossed about when print sales persons wish to make themselves sound unique: differentiation.  Basically, the idea that that we need to convey to our prospective clients that we are unique, that we are not the same as the Just In Time Printer down the street.  We tout the presses we may have, the special features we have in bindery, or maybe one thing that our company does that NO ONE else (or at least we like to think that no one else) does.

BUT WHAT MAKES YOU SO SPECIAL?

Let’s face it, folks.  When you call a prospective client, they really do not wish to knowim-special about what makes you different than Joe the Printer.  Frankly, they don’t care.  What the REALLY want to know is what YOU can do for THEM.  Don’t recite equipment lists. Don’t waste your time trying to build up what you do.  Instead, ask them what they do and see how you can match your capabilities with theirs.  Or even better, if they have an idea, run with it, and see if there are ways you can help them meet or exceed their own personal expectations.  THEN you’ll find that they are much more appreciative of what you can do for them. Differentiation means nothing.  Taking care of their needs or coming up with ideas means everything.

I HAVE THE SOLUTION FOR YOU!

SolutionsLately I’ve heard some print gurus saying that “solutions-based selling” is on the way out. I think this is mostly because other than trying to differentiate oneself from the competition, using the word “solutions” is meant to evoke that you will work for the client to provide solutions to their print problems.  But seriously, doesn’t that sound vague? What print problems?  If you call into a prospective client and say you offer solutions, they’ll wonder “to what?”  They don’t want some vague catchphrase.  They DO want solutions, but to their specific challenges.  If they are having issues with their print and mailing, do you have the capabilities to make it better?  Or if they are having constant problems with getting timely quotes from their current creepy printer, do you have an estimating team that can turn quotes quickly?  Solutions-based selling is just too vague, unless you already know what their problems are, and can address it directly and have the team members and processes in place that can back up whatever you promise.

YOUR PAIN IS MY GAIN

Another thing that I feel needs to be avoided is selling to their pain.  I hear phrases likevoodoo-doll “what are your challenges?” or “what gives you the most pain?”, or terms like “pain points”. I made a conscious decision to stop using that word and phrase. Why?  Because to me, you’re asking the contact to dredge up something that may have caused them actual pain. No, not physical pain.  But they may recall how difficult it was to get something done, and there is that slight chance that they’ll tie your inquiry into that painful or challenging project, and you may have just lost your “in” with them.  Instead, I try to build a positive dialog with clients and prospective clients.  I like to use the word “opportunities”.  It suggests that there are processes or products that I can provide to the prospect or client, and that that what I offer is something to be taken a hold of.  If someone says to you “I have an opportunity for you”, aren’t you excited to find out what that opportunity is?  And so, I choose to use that term to engage my clients and prospective clients.

So, stop being different, stop trying to sell something vague, and start giving your clients the idea that working with you will give them multiple opportunities to enhance their marketing needs through the services you do offer.

Connect with John on Google+Twitter and LinkedIn.

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About John Prothero

John Prothero is a print professional with over 30 years experience in the print industry. Starting out as a driver delivering jobs, he worked in bindery, proofing, plating, traditional prepress (camera and stripping), scheduling, job planning, job management, account management and digital job production. His skills also run in the area of blog authorship, social media management, and lead generation and qualification of prospective clients. John is also a contributor to Rhode Island Creative Magazine, a digital publication that highlights the creative spirit of the state of Rhode Island. You can read their online issues at www.ricreativemag.com
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One Response to What makes you so special?

  1. Love this John! I’ve had these same exact ‘pain points’ *chuckle* when learning how to talk to (or as I prefer: WITH) clients. I think the greatest USP is being human. 🙂

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