Commentary & Analysis
The Hidden Tool to Sell More Printing
By John Giles At the beginning of each month,
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: January 27, 2005
By John Giles At the beginning of each month, run a report of the orders that are expected to be repeated that month and call the customers. January 27, 2005 -- Are you using your printing estimating system to help you increase your sales? The power of a printing management system isn't just in its ability to create estimates. The software developers have added tools that help you sell more printing. For instance, most estimating programs have a reorder reminder built into the program. This allows you to add an estimated repeat date to the order to remind you to call the customer and ask for an order. It is a computerized "tickler" file. Too many printers ignore this feature, which can be a powerful tool in a sales program. But keep it simple. Some printers will attempt to calculate the daily use of the printed piece and predict the exact day the customer will use that last one. Instead, set the system to default to an estimated repeat date 90 days from the original order. Don't try to calculate usage--let the program work for you. At the beginning of each month, run a report of the orders that are expected to be repeated that month and call the customers. It is a simple as that. It will create a sales activity that should lead to more sales. By using the automated repeat function in your estimating program set to a 90-day default, you'll make sure that each that you contact each of your customers at least four times a year. Don't expect to get an order when you call, though. Printers who use these types of systems report that they usually don't get an order for the job they called about. But what does happen is they gather information about the customer. They learn if the order is still used and when it will be needed. They learn if the telephone numbers have changed, if the buyer is still in business, and other key information. Some printers say the activity allows them to clean out their files when they learn a job is no longer used. On the other hand, printers find they do get an order from the contacted customer in the next few weeks. Usually the reminder call was the last contact a customer had had from a printer, so he rewards that sales effort with an order. Usually printers see their top 25 customers on a regular basis because of the volume of work they do for their bigger customers. The other customers get lost in the shuffle and aren't thought of until they call with an order. By using the automated repeat function in your estimating program set to a 90-day default, you'll make sure that each that you contact each of your customers at least four times a year. Spread the knowledge The special reporting functions built into most estimating programs enable you to create repeat reports for specific sales people or customers service representatives. This way each sales person can know exactly which of his customers need to be contacted. In addition, the data collected by the estimating systems can be viewed a number of different ways. Estimates are stored in the estimating systems, so it is possible to produce a list of outstanding estimates. Successful printers review their outstanding estimates on a regular basis and contact the customers to see why they didn't get the job. Other reports can be created that show a customer's sales activity. Too many times printers are too busy with "work" to keep an eye on their existing customers. And one day they look up and a good customer is gone. Estimating systems give printers the tools to monitor individual customer activity and warn when a customer's buying volume begins to drop. As most printers know, the top 25 customers are responsible for 50 to 80 percent of a printer's total revenue. Most estimating systems will provide reports that rank the customer's sales activities and allow the printer to know exactly who the top customers are. I recommend that all employees review this list on a monthly basis so they know who the important customers are so they can receive the special treatment they have earned with their printing volume. Another sales activity that can be generated by estimating systems is "thank you for your order" messages for the customers. Email addresses and fax numbers can be collected on the estimated system that can be used to keep in touch with the customers. Some printers make sure that everyone who orders over a certain dollar amount gets an email or fax thank you. Ever think about putting your stored files to work for you? Another report feature tells the type of work that is on file. A printer could run a report of who has bought envelopes during the last two years and have a sale. All the information about customers who ordered envelopes is in the estimating system. Information is power. The amount of information that has been gathered by the estimating system can be reviewed in a variety of different ways. Many common reports are standard on most systems. Other estimating systems offer reporting writing programs to create customized reports. Having the information at your fingertips is the key to tapping the full power of the estimating system. Please offer your feedback to John. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.