Lessons from PRINTING United Expo: Cross-Selling Is King!
For those who attended Printing United Expo in Atlanta, GA, you likely came away with your head spinning. The show covered over 1 million square feet of floor space and showcased 811 exhibitors (including Wise) in categories ranging from commercial and industrial printing to large-format, labels and packaging, and promotional products. Attendees were treated to product debuts, cutting-edge product demonstrations, and new sales opportunities galore. So, what was our takeaway specifically as it relates to distributors?
For us, the biggest takeaway came from talking to attendees on the show floor. What struck us wasn’t how many new profit opportunities attendees were finding at the show, but how many existing profit opportunities they were missing. Why? Because, in spite of the many opportunities opened by today’s cutting-edge production technologies, distributors remain largely focused on the sales opportunities that are comfortable and familiar. In doing so, they are missing the opportunities to cross-sell related products into their existing accounts.
Part of the hesitation is that these products may be sold into different areas of the company and have different decision-makers than you are currently dealing with. But don’t let this stop you. It is well-known that 67% of your sales will come from existing customers. This means that the fastest way to grow your sales is by penetrating more deeply into your existing customer accounts. (Although not all cross-sales require developing new relationships. In some accounts, many of the decision-makers are the same.)
Your Most Profitable Customers Are...
Let’s say you are calling on a manufacturing plant where you are already selling promotional items or commercial print. Ask yourself, “What else is this customer buying, even if it’s not from me?” We call this “finding the white space.”
Think about all of the different products that customer is already buying from you. If it’s an automotive plant, for example, it might be “under the hood” labels, door and side jam labels, and warning labels. Now ask yourself, “What are the other products that I sell that this customer is not buying from me?” By finding that white space, you can lock out your competition and increase your revenue.
Consider the following stats from Bain & Company:
- It is 6-7 times more expensive to sell a new customer than to resell into an existing customer.
- The probability of selling into an existing customer is 60-70%, compared to a 20% win-ratio for new clients.
- Increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits anywhere from 25% to 95%.
It's much easier—and profitable—to sell deeper into an account than it is to open a new one.
Is Print Dead?
Now let’s go back to the example of selling industrial labels to an automotive plant. Next time you walk into the account, don't just think about labels. Ask them about products they aren’t buying, such as business forms, as well.
What? Business forms? Yes! While many people are saying that “print is dead,” this isn’t true. There is a common perception that “every business” has changed over to electronic forms, but the reality is, the changeover is much slower in certain markets. This includes automotive, manufacturing, and distribution where the environment remains more conducive to paper. Thus, if you are in an automotive account, remember that both business forms and labels thrive in these spaces.
Furthermore, as a distributor, you can offer your account customization and branding opportunities in both forms and labels that they can’t get from off-the-shelf products. Businesses may also have operational challenges that can be solved with a different or custom label/form solution that a good print vendor can help you solve.
Not every distributor is proactive in cross-selling a full range of products and being creative in problem-solving, too. Stand out by being the one who is!
So before walking into an account, think about all of the cross-selling opportunities that account might have. Ask yourself: What am I already selling into the account? Where is the white space that I can capitalize on? Then be proactive about finding those opportunities, selling those additional products, and locking out your competition!