Branding Blog

Are (printing) plant tours a strong sales tool?

Written by Dale Berkebile | Mon, Aug 02, 2010

Over the years I have been on more printing plant tours then I can count. Here is how they come about. A printing company that is looking for new clients starts calling all the design firms or advertising agencies in the yellow pages. They make a call, introduce themselves and their company and then if they make the cut they take you to lunch or something and invite you back to their office to take a tour of their printing plant.

Early on in your career, you enjoy these tours since it gives you a look at the back-end of how your print job is completed. Then over the years as you start going on press checks (when you make sure your job is printing correctly, checking colors, registration, etc. for those of you unfamiliar with printing). So you become pretty familiar with the printing plant and roughly how things work.

The funny thing though is we still have printers call and offer plant tours. I never really thought about why this was so funny until now. I am currently reading a book on sales called Baseline Selling by Dave Kurlan. At the end of this book, Dave brings up a great point that really made me think about my own experiences. This is when the whole printer tours came to mind. In the book Dave recommends not offering a plant tour unless it helps show the prospect how your company solves their problem or justifies why you are the best company to go with (in case you are going up against competitors).

So if this was done well, all the printing plant tours I have been on should be showing me:

  1. How I can better serve my customers
  2. How using them as a vendor can help us become more appealing to our customers or prospects
  3. How we can do our jobs better, faster, more flexible or with higher quality
  4. Lastly, how using them will help us close more deals


Really though most printing plant tours show me:

  • The new and improved equipment they have
  • Lots of printer specs (we just got the Heidelberg Speedmaster SM 52 that has a great coating system and inline die cutter)
  • Their pride and joy

The truth is I personally do not care about the equipment. I know that these printers have spent tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars on all these printing presses, but I can not keep up on all the specs of each press. I just need to know you can get my job done and make my client happy with the results.

So here is a question for you printers out there and anyone else giving plant tours as part of a sales process. What does your plant do for me? How does your plant make my life easier and get me more clients or satisfy my clients better?

What problems does your plant solve for my business problems?

Answer these questions and start thinking like this before you give your next plant tour and focus on winning over a prospect not wowing them with your big purchases.

What are your thoughts on plant tours and using them to help convert prospects into clients?