You did it!
You worked and worked and worked. Phone call after phone call after postcard after drop-by after email after social media stalking…and it has now paid off: You’ve got your first appointment with a new potential customer for your digital/inkjet printer equipment! Congratulations! Woo-hoo! Let the doves loose! But…
Today, appointments are few and far between as everyone has gotten busier and, thanks to the “Amazon-ization” of everything (online researching, ordering, order-checking, etc.), there is less of a need to see someone face-to-face. This blog has to do with making the most of that rare appointment opportunity and it comes down to two words: Preparation & Execution.
First, let’s prepare for the call. Before you walk in the door, there are three things that you need to research:
The company: Double down on the research you have already done. You’ll want to know everything from the company’s history and background to its selling/buying philosophy. Get to know the players. Get a feel for their attitude towards marketing. It’s all right there on their website. Read between the lines. Remember: The website is the window to the soul of the company. Look for ways digital/inkjet print solutions will help them to meet their stated goals.
The industry. Does the company belong to a trade association? Call the association, tell them that as part of your preparation to call on one of their members, you are researching their industry and ask for their help. Ask about current trends and threats. Oh, and Google the following: “10 marketing mistakes that <<industry>> makes.” Trust us, there are 100,000 blogs on that subject and it will give you some great background information and points you can bring up later in conversation.
The individual. Look up his or her profile on LinkedIn. Read any articles or blogs that have been written by or about the person. Get to know the people you are going to talk to and take note of any special awards or commonalities you may share.
The appointment begins: The first thing you need to do is confirm the amount of time that has been set aside for this appointment.
Sure, the client might have said, “I can give you 30 minutes. No problem!” But that was then and this is now, and something else may have come up that you won’t find out about until the client says, “I need to go jump into another meeting” and you’ve blown five minutes or so shooting the breeze and building rapport, only to find out that it was one-third of the time they had to see you. Don’t forget this important step.
Next, review your agenda, saying something like, “When we spoke on the phone, you told me that you are interested in learning more about our digital/inkjet print capabilities. Was there something else that you wanted to discuss?” What this does is to open up the possibility for, “Yes, actually. I got a request just this morning for wide format. Do you guys do that?” Had you not asked the question, that order could have gone to someone else.
Once you’ve taken those steps, tell the story of digital/inkjet, being careful to apply the benefits to them and insert any sound bites from the research you have done. It’s important not to be rigid in the direction of the call. That is, be flexible. If you want to talk about one thing but the client is clearly interested in something else, go down that road. You do not need to make your points in exact order. If the client shows interest in something, investigate. There might be a PO at the end of that rainbow. And never forget the ABCs of closing: Always Be Closing. Look for any and all opportunities to make a sale. If the client gives you an indication that they are ready to buy, let them!
At the end of the meeting, summarize. What will you do next? What will the customer do? And most importantly: When and how will you meet again? Ideally, you will walk out of the room with an order. But that is not likely. It’s more probable that this is the first step in a long walk.
When you get back to your car, write down everything you can remember about what happened during that meeting. What questions did you ask? How did the customer answer? What did they ask? What did they seem interested in? Also, note anything of a personal nature that you should remember (birthdays, for example). Later, put this all into your CRM. It’s the little things that end up making a difference in ways you can’t possibly imagine.
The final piece to the call is to write some sort of thank you note as a follow up. Tell the client that you appreciate the time they took and then summarize the next steps. This is a classy and unexpected gesture that will not go unnoticed to the right kind of account.
Ready to learn more? Register for the thINK Vitual Workshop Master Class.
Bill Farquharson and Kelly Mallozzi have sold digital print themselves and create a lot of content around the subject. Their book, Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing is available on Amazon.