Six errors when approaching buyers

By Matthew Parker, Print Consultant 

The professional print buyer is dead

Few printers have many customers who know much about the technical side of things. Even graphic designers tend not have this background these days.

Today's print buyer is a very different type of person. I am told that, typically, they are between 25 and 35. They are likely to be female and work in a marketing team. Although everyone will have buyers who are very different from this, this lack of knowledge applies to nearly all customers.

So why do printing companies persist in talking about their plant list?

Many sales people can't wait to talk about their equipment! Press specifications are very common when people introduce themselves at my sales workshops. But, often, many of the other delegates at a workshop just aren't interested.

If other print professionals aren't interested, why should our prospects care about plant lists? Not only do most buyers not know much about presses, they don't want to know.

So what's the alternative? Here are three other topics to talk about that will interest prospects much more than your equipment.


Results are one of the most important things to talk about to prospects. What can you do that will help them or their business? I'm not talking about print results: I'm talking about business results.

For instance, what increase in sales will clients see if they use your variable-data direct mail services? What customer engagement will they see if they use your point of sale solutions?

It's best if you can give specific details about these. Here is the best way to do it:

Case studies

A good case study gives proof that you can achieve what you say you do. They bring the results alive to prospects. They can see how your solution might work for their business.

Case studies are a great way to get customers interested in your company before you phone or visit. They are also far better to leave with prospects than a pile of generic print samples!

If you really want to talk about print, here's a better way to do it than talking about your presses.


Most prospects do not engage with the print process. But they do engage with what comes out at the end of it. If you show them an unusual brochure or finishing technique, it often gets them talking.

Many printing companies use unusual products as a successful door opener. The prospect may not actually be interested in the product. However, it may be the factor that makes your company stand out from the competition. It may be the factor that makes the prospect interested in your company.

Here's how one company avoided talking about presses

This company specialises in working with small charities. They engage with their prospects by talking to them about the return on investment they get from their donation mailings. They sell on the fact that they help their clients increase the amount of donations they receive. They find it very easy to get meetings with potential clients.

The reason for this is the fact that they do not talk about print. They realise that is not of interest to most of their customers. But, as soon as they talk about increasing donations, the prospect wants to talk.

Here's an action point for you

Start collecting information about jobs where you have made a real difference for the customer. Ask your clients what actual results you achieved for them and their business. Consider whether you used specific products or solutions to achieve this.

Then it will be time to start creating case studies from these jobs. For advice on how to create a case study, see my article: How to create a case study.

You'll find it much easier to have a conversation with your prospect than if you start talking about presses!

P.S. Find out more ideas on how to increase sales with today’s buyers: download my free e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them” right now at . You’ll also receive my regular “Views from the print buyer” bulletin, full of ideas on how to sell print effectively.