Squeed, the response rate that you received over the past 3 months, based on your current strategy, is not too surprising.
If you're genuinely interested in building your contract printing services, you need to be willing to dedicate time away from the shop making sales calls. This is a step beyond what it sounds like you're currently doing (the direct mail, email, and phone calls), although I could be wrong.
Trying to persuade someone to use your services is hard work.
Think about it from the customers perspective ... If they already have a reliable and trustworthy printer (their current printer), why should they switch to an unknown printer (you in this case).
Also, think about it from your perspective ... How often do you actually change suppliers or buy something you need based on an email solicitation or telemarketing call.
I agree with royster that sales is not a "passive" undertaking, however, being "too" aggressive will definitely backfire. Trust me. No one likes to deal with a pushy salesperson.
Generally speaking, people are more inclined to do business with people that they know and trust. In other words, building and maintaining relationships still matters! It takes some time, but it pays huge dividends.
Therefore, you should probably spend an hour or two creating a plan of attack. It doesn't have to be complicated, in fact, keeping it simple will improve the odds that you'll actually take time to execute it.
Start by asking yourself a few simple question:
- Who do I want to target for new customers? Make a list and be realistic.
- What services can I offer to potential customers that will set me apart from the competition (other than PRICE)?
- What additional "value" are you bringing to the table? Better quality? Faster service? Free shipping? No set up fees? Better discount on re-orders? Etc, etc.
- How much time am I willing to dedicate "away from the shop" making sales calls (and yes, generally speaking pre-established appointments will be a much better use of your time ... and the customers time). Build this "sales call" time into your weekly schedule.
- Do I have samples of my work that I can give to the perspective customer? If not, makes some!
- Also, it wouldn't hurt to put together a relatively professional information packet as a leave behind. Just a nice folder with two or three information sheets (an overview of your services, a price list) and your business card.
- Set up a few appointments, and then go make the calls. Introduce yourself, take some time to build rapport, tell them what you can do for them (your sales pitch), answer any questions they may have, provide some samples, and leave your sales folder behind so they can look it over after you go. Thank them for their time.
- Then follow up! This is the part that most people don't do! Call them 3-4 days after your appointment. Ask if they have any questions ... Ask if they have any jobs coming up that they'll need help with ... continue to build rapport!
Again, it takes time, but it's usually time well spent. Just keep in mind that it may take a while to actually "land" their business (I once read that it takes an average of 9 sales calls for a client to switch suppliers and place an order). Sounds painful, but not as painful as a looking at your presses collecting dust.