Mon, Oct

Join the dots

‘Connect the facts with the fun’. That’s what our sales director said when I asked what he’d learned from his virtual workshop on winning new customers during a pandemic. When I asked him where he was going to find the fun so he could connect with it, he shrugged.

Winning new customers, as opposed to new business from customers we already have, has been beyond our control since the first lockdown. Some promising prospects went into radio silence, others blamed the pandemic for procrastination, a few used it to press for a discount and one - actually a returning customer - demanded extended payment terms. As it took him 90 days to pay his last invoice, I ignored him.

We did gain some customers, but it wasn’t really anything to do with us. Like everyone else, we benefitted from the great, fleeting floor graphic boom. In one case, a customer’s existing print service provider could no longer provide - something to do with broken links in the supply chain - and in another the client finally lost patience with the catastrophic service provided by a once trusted printer.

Many likely customers found their finance directors behaving like Ebenezer Scrooge, shouting ‘Bah humbug!’ every time they tried to spend money. The phrase ‘new normal’ was often trotted out as orders were delayed, reduced or cancelled. In this context, why would any print buyer want to take a risk on a new print service provider unless they had no other choice?

At Mole Graphics, we have long known that the old road warrior mode of selling has had its day. Unfortunately, we still don’t know what will replace it. Are we all going to be selling virtually some, most or all of the time? I certainly hope not but, despite the hype about ‘Zoom fatigue’, I fear we might.

The sales director said the best moment in the workshop was when one of the participants messaged an American comedian’s old gag: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all of the time, and those are the ones you should focus on.”

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