In my last column, I discussed how companies can better utilize the phone as a marketing vehicle with phone-on-hold messaging, and the importance of training appropriate staff in phone etiquette and protocols. In this column, I'll discuss some of the ways to overcome the many obstacles the telephone poses in sales efforts. I have borrowed heavily from a great resource one of my clients turned me on to:'s columnist Michelle Nichols, author of "Savvy Selling."


Identifying the person in the company who's responsible for purchasing print in the company is the first step. I'm always arguing that print sales should be made as far up the corporate chain as possible, as long as you're able to demonstrate a quantifiable value proposition, such as print's better ROI when compared to other media. Here are some statistics I've pulled from my "Ti Monthly" eNewsletter that might prove useful in developing fodder for the C-level sale. I encourage you to work with clients to set up processes to track response rates on printed projects, so you can develop your own ROI statistics.

PIA/GATF's Ronnie Davis' 10/31 "Economic & Print Market Flash Report" cites a study by the U.S. Postal Service that validates the effectiveness of direct mail: Eight out of 10 consumers look at and/or read their direct mail. Thirty two percent of households perceive that direct mail provides them with specific value in running their home life. Thirty nine percent have ordered products and services from their home based on information from direct mail. Fifty seven percent of households expect their shopping plans will be affected by the mail in the next daily delivery. Davis recommends the USPS as a good resource for other supportive studies pertaining to direct mail. Go to for more information.

RIT's Frank Romano cites findings of a study sponsored by The Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) that compared the advertising ROI of three auto brands: The ROI in incremental sales-per-dollars spent for secondary media averaged $3.62 versus $8.23 for printed magazines. For more information, go to

Back to ways of getting contact information ... I've had some success going to companies' websites to find names, titles, and bios of key people. Obviously, the smaller the organization, the fewer names you'll have to wade through, and the more likely the person responsible for print buying will be the owner or the director of marketing and sales. However, many large organizations have at least one page on their websites devoted to key personnel. Most corporate websites also have a page on which they post and archive press releases. I've often found my contact by reviewing company representatives who are quoted in the releases. Finally, the search engine Google has also proven useful. I type in the company name and review what comes up, which often includes news written about the company and its executives.

Of course, if your networking web is strong, ask around. You may find a friend of a friend who happens to work in the organization.


If all else fails, you'll have to pick up the phone and likely have to navigate through an automated message center. Here are some of Michelle Nichols' readers' tips:

  • The "O" in most of these systems will connect you to a receptionist, who may help you in your search.
  • Ask for the building administrator, who often will often provide names.
  • Ask for a sales rep and request his/her help in identifying your best contact.
  • Punch in any of the extensions and when the person answers, tell them "you're sorry but the front desk must have connected you to the wrong extension. You're trying to speak with the person in charge of ..."
  • If you get a gatekeeper who refuses to help, try transposing the last two digits of the phone number, which might connect you to someone more helpful. Or, ask for the person by his/her first name in an authoritative voice, which might lead the gatekeeper to think you're a personal friend.

When you do get through to the right person, you'd better be well prepared because you'll not have a second chance. Ms. Nichols offers these tips:

  • Try to schedule the appointment for the same day, making cancellations more difficult.
  • If you have to leave a voice mail, say you'll be in the neighborhood at a certain date and time and "would like to meet with you for 10 minutes to explain XYZ and how it can help you."

I would be interested to hear other tips for getting around the voicemail and message center obstacle. Email charlotte@traversant and I'll share them in a future column.

Charlotte Mills Seligman is president of Traversant Marketing Communications. The firm specializes in planning and executing integrated marketing programs for printing and allied graphic arts companies, with nearly two decades of expertise in the industry. Previous columns and issues of the company's Ti Monthly e-newsletter are posted on Inquiries should be directed to (415) 357-2929 or charlotte

© 2003 Charlotte Mills Seligman

November 20, 2003
Print & Graphics
Col. #56, 11/03
Printing Journal
Col #56, 11/03
The Telephone II
By Charlotte Mills Seligman

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