How can you build business in post coronavirus times?

by FESPA | 24/04/2020
How can you build business in post coronavirus times?

Consultant, Matthew Parker shares 5 ideas to kick start new sales campaigns during coronavirus.

Your clients will need help

When restrictions start to ease, business will be tough. Most companies, whether they are in the printing industry or not, will not be going back to normal. Most governments up until now have been good at offering businesses help to weather the storm. But we cannot expect this to be the case in the months to come. Sadly, many businesses will fail. Others have the potential to survive, to grow and to become profitable businesses again.
However, in order to get back on their feet, they will need help. This help will have to come from their business network, and it could well include you. The role of a good supplier is not to sell goods or services to customers: it is to help a client grow. Your customer base does not buy printed textiles or wide-format print because it has a desire for this type of print. They buy it because it creates business results for them. You are more likely to create more profitable and loyal clients if you adopt a consultative approach to selling. 

What is consultative selling?

Consultative selling is a style of selling that focuses on the needs of the customer and how your solutions can help them grow their business. Traditionally it has been associated with more complicated services and products with a higher price level. But, used correctly, it is just as relevant to printing companies with relatively low-priced products.
Consultative selling is based around asking about and understanding a prospect or client’s needs and then providing a product or service that meets these needs. It is important to realise that a client may not understand their true needs until they are explained to them: how many times have you agreed to spend money with a builder or a car mechanic because they pointed out a problem that you were not aware of?
Because consultative selling is based around helping and growing a business it involves a more partner-like approach. This means that, typically, you create a stronger relationship with your clients. They are more likely to discuss their challenges with you and come to you with ideas. This means that you achieve better sales from each client. Each client becomes more valuable to you.
Naturally, some companies in the printing industry will return to work and expect the phone to ring. They will hope to carry on taking orders as normal. However, their customers will almost certainly be looking for ways to cut costs. Day to day print requirements will be quite likely to be one of the casualties. If people do not reach out to their customers they are likely to lose business. If you are unsure about how to do this, see my previous article “What to say to your current clients during Coronavirus right now and when restrictions ease”.

Here are five ideas that you can approach your customers with using a consultative approach

It is important to state that none of us know what will happen when the restrictions are eased. The first two of these suggestions are based on the assumption that it will take some time before the danger of infection significantly reduces. Therefore we should expect to maintain health warnings and social distancing for some time.
All of these suggestions can be used with a consultative approach.

1. Health and safety signage
We can expect the need for handwashing and similar signage for some time yet. Some companies may find the idea of organising this overwhelming. You can make this easy for them by creating ready to use artwork. Ideally you will have a standard design that can be easily customised with the customer’s details and logo.
2. Social distancing floor graphics
Businesses cannot rely on scruffy pieces of tape to encourage social distancing. They have a poor effect on a brand and potentially pose a health and safety threat when they curl. It is far better to create branded floor graphics that are designed specifically for a shop or a location. Many companies may not be aware of the fact that it is possible to produce floor graphics, or that you can create custom-designed solution for their specific space.
3. Re-opening banners and signage
As businesses re-open they will need to advertise this fact to their customers. Many businesses may be used to having an established customer base and not have seen the need for this before. However, in these new times they may have to advertise that they have re-opened or if they are operating differently. The options open to them will depend on their premises and local byelaws, but they may not be aware of just how creative they can be with your help. Whatever their situation, you will be able to advise them of the best opportunities, be they banners, display boards, large format posters.
4. Take-away signage and vehicle graphics
It seems as though it will be some considerable time before the hospitality industry will operate normally. Many restaurants and bars will have to work as take-aways instead. They will need to advertise this. This means creating new signage for their premises. In addition, if they are using their own staff, you may wish to suggest that they wrap vehicles to advertise the new services. Alternatively, you may be able to provide temporary magnetic signage for their vehicles. This will be a new area for most companies in this sector: they will need guidance from you.
5. Company workwear offering new service

Many companies are changing their offerings at the moment. Many will be introducing new opportunities for their customers. Where there will be staff who have a customer facing role, their work wear can be printed to advertise these new services. In addition, they may need to invest in more protective work wear than before. You have the opportunity to help, educate and guide them with new options.

Can businesses afford print at the moment?

Many businesses will be reluctant to spend more than they have to at the moment. But the question should not be can they afford print. It should be can they afford not to use the solutions that you are suggesting. How many new business opportunities will they miss out on if they do not implement the right signage and display strategy. Will their customers trust them if they do not have clear and appropriate health and safety and distancing signage?

How do you put this into practice?

Firstly, talk to your clients. Use the call script that I outlined in my previous article “What to say to your current clients during Coronavirus right now and when restrictions ease”. [LINK]
During this conversation, ask your clients what their key business challenges are. Alternatively, suggest to them some of the business issues that they may be facing.
As the conversation develops, inspire them with ideas and solutions that you can produce for them.

It is your responsibility to take the lead

This may be a new way of selling for your company. However, now is the time to create more collaborative opportunities. You know your clients will need help. Your job is to offer them that help before anyone else.
PS Discover more ideas on how to engage with today’s buyers by downloading my e-book for free: “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them”. You’ll also receive my regular “Views from the print buyer” bulletin, full of ideas on how to sell print effectively.  Read my book “How To Stop Print Buyers Choosing On Price” where you learn how to create sales messages that win you clients not customers.
Matthew Parker
After many years buying print, Matthew set up his own consultancy. He was approached several printing companies asking him to share his secrets on how to get the best out of today’s buyers. Mathew now shares his buying experiences, good and bad, with the printing industry. Over his career Matthew received sales approaches from over 1,400 printing companies. Matthew’s shares his knowledge as he has a unique view as a commercial buyer of print. Matthew works with his clients, providing training, mentoring and e-learning to help them create profitable new business.
Over the years Matthew has worked with hundreds of printing companies. He has worked with numerous leading print industry associations including Dscoop, FESPA, BPIF and IPIA. He has also spoken at a wide range of industry gatherings all over the world for the likes of Xerox, Canon, Konica Minolta, HP, Dscoop, Antalis and FESPA. And he has regularly featured in publications such as Printing Impressions, Canvas, Printweek and Print Monthly, to name just a few.


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