I work with a lot of business owners and their sales departments who are running into something more than ever: Customers demanding lower and lower page rates. It can be extremely frustrating when prospects and, heaven forbid, existing customers, keep asking you to lower your cost per page (CPP) rate.
The most common ways to deal with this are not necessarily the best ways. Below are three things I hear more times than not when sales reps are trying to justify higher pricing:
- “But our service is superior to theirs”. And it probably is, but I hate to tell you this: They’ve had lots of terrible service experiences with other folks who have told them the same.
- “Our products are more reliable and have fewer downtime issues”. Okay, so why is superior service important? Just thinking out loud here…
- “We’ve won more accolades and awards than our competitors”. Yay! Again, not moving the sales dial away from price much with the customer on this one.
The problem with the above three points and why they aren’t working: It’s all about YOU. They care a lot more about somebody else: THEMSELVES.
We need to remember that whenever we’re selling something to a customer, be it a printer, MFD or toner and support, the customer is more concerned about getting their issues resolved than they are about why you think you’re better. And I’m not saying you’re not — if you’re reading this you’re probably pretty freaking awesome! But enough about you, because even though you’re the most super awesome company in managed print today, we need to focus on them.
Here are three things you can add to your sales process to do just that:
Start your meetings by asking about them
Far too often we launch right into our PowerPoint and why we’re awesome. They expect that. So, give them what they don’t expect!
One thing I always do when meeting a potential new customer or partner after basic introductions have been done is move the conversation immediately into their business. I love to ask a lot of discovery questions about what keeps them up and night, where they think a good managed print program should be able to help and I take a ton of notes.
Their story matters to them, and the more they think it matters to you the better your sales cycle will become. Some examples:
- “Tell me more about how you get work done day to day.” What’s working, what’s not. Start right away with the business of business, dig into their workflow and show them that you really are interested.
- “Office print and copy aside, what are the top three initiatives you’re working on this year?” This could be the best question you ever ask! They may be looking at document management or workflow automation, and you might be able to make both options better. And guess what? The scanner on that MFD you think would fit in their office could be the digital on-ramp they’ve been looking for to fill the gaps.
- “What do you love about your current equipment and provider?” Yes, you heard me right. Find out what they like, and don’t bash the competitor. You’ll gain a lot more respect, and they’ll appreciate your level approach. You’ll also gain an insight into areas you will need to compete further in the sales cycle.
If saving money is important to them, illustrate why the CPP rate is the wrong place to get savings
It’s not rocket science to appreciate that the easiest way to get a cheaper CPP is to use cheaper stuff! That’s just maths. Clone toner from China, compatible toner from Gary’s basement — cheaper, yes, but not the best.
But don’t stop here! Let your prospect know that you have better ways to help them save money than sacrificing quality:
- Workflow improvements: Let’s discover where they are having issues and see if there are simple and more cost-effective ways to solve them. A good example? People printing off every invoice twice: One copy for the files and one copy for Joe in Accounting. I’ll bet an email with an attachment that is automated upon invoice generation would be a time- and money-saver.
- Unnecessary printing: I mention this one in a lot of my blogs because it’s important: The least expensive page you can print is the one you NEVER print! Period. Are they printing too many emails? Too much color for things they don’t need to? If you help them uncover areas for improvement that their competitor hasn’t, you’ll improve your likelihood of a sale by leaps and bounds.
Ask them what they are looking for in an awesome provider
Get them to give you a profile of the perfect provider. Take notes.
When you come back with a solution for them, make sure you illustrate that you delivered on what was important to them. No bragging. Just solving problems.
Street cred earned, and the deal too.
I’m not saying you’re going to win every deal if you follow this advice, but I can promise you that your customers are going to be far more likely to let you earn their business. When you make it about them and mean it, well, that takes the conversation miles away from who has the lower CPP. Because now it’s about THEM.
Selling (and managing) more than print
Want to meet all the needs of your customers? A growing number of office equipment dealers are offering converged services, which includes both managed print and managed IT services. Not sure how to get started? Download the eBook.