How Print Shops Use Cold Calling To Get Sales (Advice From A Pro!)

Newsletter The Weekly

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Printavo is simple shop management software. We help you streamline your business, keep jobs moving forward and your team on the same page.

Scheduling, quoting, approvals, payments, customer communication, automation and more. With Printavo, you’ll work smarter–not harder.

This week I asked Kevin Baumgart from SetSales (you may remember him from PrintHustlers Conf – check out his past presentations here and here) about cold calling.

Kevin is a serious sales pro (and you'll see why in the newsletter below).

Kevin Baumgart answers questions at PrintHustlers Conf 2019.

I’m not in sales. When I think of cold calling, I wince a little bit. It feels like the most awkward thing you could do.

But the reality is simple. Cold calling actually works.

Just…not in the way you might think:

“Most of the research shows that it takes 8-9 touches at minimum for someone to remember your name, your company and what you all do,” Kevin says.

8 to 9 touches!

That is a lot.

Cold calling isn’t for some special person with a unique hardened mentality.

It’s just one step in the process to get clients to remember you, your company, and what you do.

And when they remember, they’ll call you.

The Weekly is Printavo’s weekly newsletter by Printavo’s content creator Luke Gardner.

Focused on the custom apparel industry, The Weekly takes a microscope to the topics that matter: from sales and marketing strategies that work for print shops to analyzing the state of the industry.

Each week we tackle one major topic and share our best resources, ideas, and curated content from dozens of conversations with print shops around the world.

The Weekly is how to get schooled in the print game without paying a dime of tuition.

Cold calling for print shops: is it worth it?

There’s email, social media, advertising…so many tools out there!

So why bother with the often painful and boring process of cold calling, right? Cold calling is dead, right?

“Wrong! I couldn't disagree more,” Kevin said. “As business owners and executives and managers, we get cold calls non-stop. There's a reason for this - it works!”

Kevin Baumgart says that, despite the endless series of options that sales and marketing have, cold calling is still incredibly effective. “People wouldn't spin their wheels and cold call if they weren't getting results,” he explained.

So what do print shops get wrong about cold calling? Kevin said that they underestimate the “amount and velocity” of cold calling that it takes to produce results. In other words, they’re not aggressive enough. “You have to put a strong concentrated effort into automating outreach and making it multiple touches,” he said.

But it doesn’t stop there. Cold calling is outreach, not just dialing. “It's critical to mix up outreach with email, calling, social media connections and engagement,” but don’t stop there! Visiting clients is part of the mix too. Drop offs and complimentary visits are a really valuable strategy.

How to get better at cold calling

Rejection is huge in cold calling. Everyone talks about how you have to get rejected a lot. It’s a cliche, right?

But I want to flip this logic around a bit and change the focus of this thought -

Success happens during cold calling. It does! And it seems like it’s an afterthought: call enough people and eventually one says yes.

But my thought is that this might make some cold callers blind. They’re not thinking about WHY and HOW that one cold call actually did work.

So I asked Kevin, should cold callers pay more attention to what worked, or what didn’t work?

His answer is brilliant: think of sales like a funnel. “I think it's less about ‘what did I say’ or ‘why did that message resonate’ and more about the numbers and ratios behind it.” Start keeping a tally of every activity that you do while cold calling.

“We should be able to track top of funnel outreach (calls, emails, drop offs, etc.) and see how many people said yes to a meeting,” Kevin suggested. “Then track how many meetings result in us proposing a solution. Then how many proposals to get us to a goal.” It seems like a lot of work, but there’s a reason.

Kevin explained that tracking metrics leads to motivation, and keeps the successes over the horizon. “I know for every 100 phone calls I make I'm likely going to set one meeting. That will keep me motivated to make the calls.”

What to do if cold calls aren't working

So this sounds very rosy, doesn’t it? Start calling a bunch of people, track some metrics, and the sales will just coast in.

But we all know it isn’t that easy. So I asked: what problems WON’T be solved by cold calling?

Kevin said print shops need to think about their shop’s needs.

If you’re losing a lot of deals, there’s something wrong. “I always look at the quality of the discovery. Then I look at the needs analysis. These can be the main reasons why we win or lose deals,” Kevin said.

You can go deeper and make the process something that follows a script, too.

Kevin explained: “Having a set script of technical questions (sizes, quantities, logos, etc.) and business questions (what's most important to you in this order, what do you look for in a print partner, etc.) makes for powerful discovery questions.”

Bonus: a hack for ghosting 👻

We all know that ghosting is super common these days. People just don’t have to respond, so they don’t. But if you lost a client and want to know more, you can ask.

Here’s a simple template you can repurpose for your own follow-ups:

Hi ___,

I know you needed your merchandise by today. Just wanted to follow up–

I appreciate the opportunity to earn your business. I hope we can connect again in the future.

Would you be open to sharing information about why you chose another provider over us? It would help us immensely to grow our knowledge.

One last question: may I reach out and provide recommendations for future projects?


Simply send this email (adjusted for your own tone and style!) on the day they were supposed to receive their merchandise.

Next Post: Tip Stop #6 - Success With Quotes and Invoices

About Printavo

Printavo is simple shop management software. We help you streamline your business, keep jobs moving forward and your team on the same page.

Scheduling, quoting, approvals, payments, customer communication, automation and more. With Printavo, you’ll work smarter–not harder.