Ask any small business owner and they will tell you it’s much more costly to acquire a new customer than to retain and grow a current customer. However, many companies still place a huge emphasis on obtaining new customers through sales, marketing and advertising, yet pay little attention to their actual customer retention strategies. Businesses promote the sale, make the sale and then leave their customer behind, blowing in the wind.
I had an interesting exchange of emails recently with a new sales hire at a commercial printing company. “What title should I have on my business card?” he asked. “My boss wants it to be sales representative, but that’s not how I want to be seen. What do you think about print satisfaction specialist?”
When I was a kid, you must need glasses, was a pretty common insult. I remember saying it to other kids, and once to a Little League Baseball umpire. That got me thrown out of the game. It turns out, though, that printing salespeople do need glasses. Specifically, they need rose-coloured bifocals, because success in the modern marketplace requires good near vision, far vision, and a fair share of optimism.
This is the last instalment in my series on The top 5 ways to talk yourself out of a sale. We have covered too much talk/too little listen, too many features/too little benefits, pitching versus storytelling, and making it all about price. Today, the topic is persistence, which is generally considered to be a positive attribute for a print salesperson.
This is the fourth instalment in my series, The top 5 ways to talk yourself out of a sale. Today’s topic is Making it all about price — which you hopefully don’t do. I hear many complaints from print salespeople that buyers who only care about price. Sadly, some of the blame lies with the salespeople and printing companies. One of my early sales trainers had a favourite expression, that he or she who mentions price first, loses. In my experience, too many printing salespeople are guilty of that selling sin.
This is the third instalment in my series on The top 5 ways to talk yourself out of a sale. The topic for today is Pitching versus Storytelling. The official rules of baseball describe a pitch as a ball delivered to the batter by the pitcher. In North American slang though, we often refer to the words a salesperson uses to try to get someone to buy something as a sales pitch, and it is usually not considered a complimentary term.
In my last column, I started a series on The top 5 ways to talk yourself out of a sale. As you may remember, they are:
There are countless brands to choose from and just as many reasons to choose – or not choose – one over another. What drives a consumer to purchase an object or service from one company over the next? Although many factors affect the outcome of a purchase, taking these five actions will help you positively impact your customer’s buying process.
In a recent column, I wrote about setting priorities and dealing with interruptions. That was a discussion of time management strategy and technique. This month, I have interruptions on my mind again, but from a different perspective. Over the last couple of weeks, I have observed several salespeople and a couple of candidates for sales positions committing what I consider to be a cardinal selling sin — interrupting the person they really should be listening to.
“Stop wasting your customers’ time” urges the latest video release from Label Traxx MIS. The clip focuses on a stressed-out label buyer who is struggling with his workload until he is introduced to Label Traxx MIS’ new web-based module Siteline.
I’m nowhere near fluent in French, but like many North Americans, I know a few words in a lot of languages. One of the French words I know is lagniappe. The strict definition of this Creole French term is “a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase.”
Stephen Covey was an American educator and author, probably best known for his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This book has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide since its first publication in 1989.
From PrintAction's April 2016 print issue, Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling, combines sales insight and print experience to describe how to leverage one of the most important, yet vanishing, skills of lead generation.

What do ballet dancing and print sales have in common: Wendy Weiss, a.k.a. The Queen of Cold Calling, a widely quoted New-York-City-based sales training and coaching consultant specializing in lead generation and business development.

“I cut my teeth doing new business development in the print and graphic arts industry. Many of my clients are still printers and graphic artists,” says Weiss, who was preparing to present four sales seminars at the National Print Owners Association’s April conference in Texas.

“I was never supposed to be The Queen of Cold Calling. I was supposed to be a ballerina,” Weiss laughs.  As a teenager, she moved from Pennsylvania to New York City to dance. She needed a day job and, tired of waiting on tables, landed a telemarketing position setting up B2B appointments. The telemarketing company did not have enough work for her, but, after discovered she was good at prospecting, print broker friend soon hired Weiss to set appointments. She then worked in sales for a number of New York printers, one of whom nicknamed her The Queen of Cold Calling.

“A big mistake people make when prospecting by phone is talking too much about what they do. Typically printers talk too much about their equipment,” she says. “But I didn’t know any of that stuff back then. I just got on the phone and talked about what a great printer I was setting appointments for... That’s how my sales career started – totally by accident.”

Weiss continued to dance and prospect for businesses for a while, but ultimately turned toward training salespeople, sales managers, and business owners.

Cold calling is indispensable
Weiss believes cold calling is more critical than ever in today’s marketplace. In an interview on the BizTalk Radio Show (one of many free resources archived on her Website), she explains ultimately you can only generate a sales lead four ways: Through marketing; referrals; networking; and cold calling (targeting and telephoning a prospect with whom you have had little or no previous contact).

Weiss explains the first three methods are all essentially passive, because you have to wait for somebody else to act. With marketing, you have to wait for prospects to contact you. With referrals, you have to wait for others to facilitate introductions. With networking, you rarely meet the prospect, only the person who knows them.

“[Cold calling] is actually the only appointment-generating or opportunity-generating activity that is directly under your control, and it’s the only way to make up the difference between the number of leads or opportunities that you are finding through marketing, referrals, and networking, and the number of leads or opportunities that you actually need to hit whatever revenue number you’re looking to hit,” she says. “So the issue today is not that cold calling is outmoded... it has changed and most people do it really badly.”

Weiss says email and social media channels lead some sales professionals to conclude incorrectly that they do not need telephone skills: “What if somebody calls you and you blow the conversation? You’re not going to get the customer. It’s also a fallacy that you can use social media as the main driver and not have to talk to people. For our clients to be effective in today’s environment, we teach them to reach out to prospects strategically and consistently over time, using the phone along with other types of communication and software to track their progress.”

Weiss emphasizes that cold calling is a communications skill that can be improved on, but also, “This is not something that you can just wing. There is a certain progression of what needs to be done to get where you want to be.” To teach clients the nuts and bolts of cold calling, Weiss uses a performance model based on her former career as a dancer. The first step in her model is warming up: “When you’re a dancer, warming up is the first thing you do so you don’t hurt yourself,” she explains. “And as a second step, you always rehearse, because that’s how you create the muscle memory that makes your performance automatic. After you have warmed up and rehearsed, then and only then do you pick up the phone.”

In Weiss’s model, warming up means compiling a highly targeted list of the people who are most likely to need what you’re selling: “In the old days we didn’t have a lot of information about prospects, but today a wealth of information about them is available to help you decide who might possibly buy something from you, who are most likely to buy from you, and who are most likely to come back and buy a whole lot more.” Her warm up also requires determining what messaging to use when you get prospects on the phone, as well as in your email and voice-mail messages. “The rule of thumb is that nobody cares what you do, so the words matter.

“Do you have an attention-grabbing introduction, do your voice-mail messages get people to call back, do your emails get people to respond? If someone you talk to says, ‘I’m not interested,’ it means you’re not saying anything interesting. So you need to do some up-front work to figure out what words will be compelling to the market that you’re talking to and make people want to engage with you.”

Changing thoughts and processes
Besides instilling skills, Weiss also helps people who dread cold calling change the way they think about it. She says these clients are prone to counterproductive mindreading or fortunetelling.

“Cold calling isn’t an emotional experience. It’s marketing,” she insists. “The opposite of hating cold calling is not that you love it. It’s that you’re neutral, which is the mindset you want to maintain. You can’t function if you’re hysterical.” Weiss diffuses fear by pointing out that telephone prospecting, especially appointment setting, is highly predictable – most prospects will respond in only a few different ways.

One typical response is, “Send me information.” Weiss explains this usually means a prospect has not read the information sent, because either you have not said anything compelling or the prospect is too busy. If it is the latter, and since your goal is to set up a meeting, Weiss suggests focusing on the fact that they have not said no.

“Find a way to make the prospects right or agree with them by countering with something like, ‘I understand you are very busy, but I only need 10 or 15 minutes.  When would work for you?’ Many times prospects’ responses are not a stumbling block but a negotiation.”

If a prospect responds with, “I already have a vendor I’m happy with,” Weiss suggests focusing on the fact that this automatically places them in the desirable qualified-prospect category.

Weiss describes another scenario in which a printer asked her to help hire a salesperson. When she asked him what procedures were in place for the salesperson, he lapsed into an uncomfortable silence. “A big mistake printers make is to hire someone, teach him or her everything about printing, and then tell them to go and sell with no source of qualified leads and no process to follow. Generally speaking, companies seem to have processes in place for everything except prospecting.

“Yet as managers or business owners, if we lay out a process with steps for our sales reps to follow, it makes things so much easier, and they are so much more likely to succeed, especially inexperienced new hires or somebody who is struggling.”

Although the attrition rate for new hires can be as high as 50 percent, Weiss explains companies usually pay new sales hires up to two-and-a-half years’ salary before deciding to replace them via a corporate hiring cycle that typically costs another two times the salesperson’s annual salary.

“To avoid these mistakes, the advice I would give the head of a company is to put in place a comprehensive process, including things like a targeted list, messaging, skills training for your people, and software that tracks and measures what they are doing so you know what is actually working. If any of these essential elements are missing from your process, your telephone-prospecting campaigns are not going to work well,” she says.

Weiss explains setting appointments should be the first step of staff training: “They don’t have to know every single thing about printing. You can easily teach them how to make appointments, then use software to track what they’re doing, so you know how to coach them appropriately and have some measure of their progress... If they can’t set appointments, they’re probably not going to sell a lot, so you don’t need to wait a full two years before deciding whether or not to keep them.”

Weiss says many printers experience a boom-bust cycle (a busy month followed by an insufficient number of orders the next month) and the bust is frequently the result of not having enough prospects. Her antidote is to prospect every day. “It’s a very common scenario that owners don’t prospect regularly because they get busy doing other stuff. Lots of entrepreneurs also have only one or two really big clients, and if they lose their business, they’re screwed. While it’s a myth in cold calling that you have to do hundreds of dials every day, you still have to do some. You need to take action every day and keep looking for opportunities to move your business forward.”

Four printing sales representatives from across Canada have emerged as Unisource’s 2012 CMYK Idols, following weeks of online voting. The four winners are broken down by region.

Sylvie Coulombe of Imprimerie L'Empreinte in Montréal, Quebec, is the 2012 CMYK Idol for the Ottawa and Eastern Canada region, which also holds runner-up Jean-François Poliquin of Impressions Soleil in Québec City. Finalists from the Ottawa and Eastern Canada region include Sophie Canuel of Accent Impression Inc., Luc Janson of Imprimerie L'Empreinte, and Kevin Wyllie of Taylor Printing Group.

In the Ontario region, excluding Ottawa, the Unisource Idol winner is Kris Cochrane of TC Transcontinental in Vaughan. Ian Budge of Somerset Graphics Co. in Mississauga is the runner-up Idol for the region, while Flash Reproductions holds three finalists in David Gallant, Andrew Likakis and Rich Pauptit.

For the region defined by Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Territories, the 2012 CMYK Idol is Stacy Dreger of Impact Printers in Regina. Tammy Thachuk of the Burke Group of Companies in Edmonton is the runner up, while the region’s finalists are Ken Doornbos of Premier Printing, Bob Matteis of Saskatoon Fastprint, and Lee Weighill of Warwick Printing.

In the fourth and final region of British Columbia, Jeff Mesina of Total Graphics in Burnaby is Unisource’s 2012 CMYK Idol and regional runner-up is Dirk Ottevangers of Hemlock Printers. British Columbia’s finalists include Dave Hopkins of Globe Printers and Shelley MacKinnon of Metropolitan Fine Printers.

This Thursday, Peter Ebner, recognized as one of North America’s leading sales trainers dedicated to the printing industry, will present a 2 ½ hour workshop at Fujifilm Canada’s headquarters in Mississauga. Ebner training technique is unique in that he does not present theory or motivational hype, but rather what he describes as proven and tested techniques that North America’s top income earners are already using.

The workshop is designed to illustrate how people selling print can break through hidden sales barriers, not by working harder, but rather by refocusing their efforts toward more productive tasks. Most salespeople, according to Ebner, believe they are doing the best they can, having reached an equilibrium, when in fact they are performing at only 20 percent of their true potential.

Attendees will receive a free copy of Ebner’s latest book, Breaking the Print Sales Barrier ($49.95 value, hardcover, 217 pages), which is described as a comprehensive guide to handling objections.

After the workshop, attendees will also be given the opportunity to take a guided tour through Fujifilm Canada’s demonstration facility, with technologies like thermal and violet CTP devices, Acuity flatbed printers (including the new Acuity LED 1600 UV), Fujifilm XMF and Colorgate workflow solutions, and XMF Colorpath colour management software.

When: November 1, 2012, 10:00am-12:30pm
Where: Fujifilm Canada, 600 Suffolk Court, Mississauga, Ontario
Price: $69.95+HST per person

Visit the dedicated Ebner Seminar page to view more specifics about the workshop and to register online.

Please call (416) 665-7333 ext 31 with any questions.

Page 1 of 2

Subscription Centre

New Subscription
Already a Subscriber
Customer Service
View Digital Magazine Renew

Most Popular

Latest Events

Printing United 19
October 23-25, 2019
drupa 2020
June 16-26, 2020
Labelexpo Americas 2020
September 15-17, 2020


We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. To find out more, read our Privacy Policy.