Graphic communications salespeople have never had as many things to sell as they do now. Advancements in cross media platforms, e commerce, digital imaging and personalized printing help print-based salespeople generate powerful value propositions. As the economy improves, there will be additional opportunities to raise sales levels as customers look to invest in marketing and training initiatives that include print.
As exciting as all of this is, there remain persistent challenges for salespeople. No website or brochure can adequately inform or convince customers to use printing in their communications. Direct printing salespeople must be up to the task of helping their customers assess their marketplace and move forward with programs that involve print.
The good news is that printing companies are repositioning themselves and customers are finally re-awaking to the inherent value of print as an integral element of their marketing communications.
The Halo Effect of Digital Media
Convincing a customer to use print is often impacted by the halo effect of digital and social media. The term was first described by psychologist Edward Thorndike in 1920 and can influence a customer’s feelings of using print versus digital media.
The halo effect often makes it difficult to sell the benefits of printed products and services because of the perception of the overwhelming success, convenience and cost of digital or social media.
Printing salespeople must confront this human tendency. Though digital and social media can have obvious advantages, we are seeing signs and have proof that printing can offer a greater ROI back to our customers. Case studies, ROI examples and models of successful campaigns that bring results to customers are required to minimize the halo effect of digital and social media.
Focus on goals and objectives
As a general rule, those salespeople that take the time to listen and learn the pain and opportunities facing each customer, will be better at breaking down their halo effect biases about print. At the end of the day, performance is what counts. Common negative perceptions of the environmental impact, cost and effectiveness of print must be met head on.
Beautiful and engaging printing, backed up by case studies of great ROI results, minimize the halo effect of digital and social media. Salespeople cannot rely on customers to know this.
The Blind Spot(s) of Printing Salespeople
The challenge of overcoming the halo effect of digital and social media are often hindered by blind spots of the print salesperson. For example, it is not uncommon for salespeople to focus on selling a particular product or service without knowing the goals and objectives of the customer. Rather than concentrating on the needs of the customer, salespeople unintentionally commoditize their own offerings by the way they sell.
Blind spots become apparent to a customer due to poor selling habits, complacency, falling behind the times in technology, incorrect assumptions about customer’s requirements, too much information, incorrect assumptions or simply a lack of listening.
With the fast transformation taking place in our industry, it is critical to test and continually look for blind spots. Blind spots are often not realized by the salesperson. Many salespeople exhibit behaviors caused by blind spots over a long period of time.
Willy Loman, the iconic character of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman faced difficulty in keeping up with the times. He faced declining sales and income. His inability to deal with his blind spots led to his failure. Identifying and fixing issues is very difficult if a salesperson does not accept or know that they exist.
The sad part of this play was Willy’s unwillingness to deal with reality and change.
Finding Blind Spots
There are good ways to find your blind spots. Getting consistent and honest feedback formally and informally from coworkers, managers, customers, suppliers and industry experts, is a good way to identify habits and behaviors that are getting in the way of business. Another strategy is to review past account wins and losses to attempt to find patterns that may be caused by blind spots.
The simplest way to minimize the development of blind spots is to always strive for continuous personal and industry learning, regularly attending training sessions, and focusing on what the customer and their customers want and need to be successful.
If your blind spot is a lack of knowledge about how social media plays a role in your customers business, sign up to receive their Tweets, visit (and study) their FaceBook page, and learn how they are using media to get their message out. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be in a much better position to argue your case about including print in the mix.
Handling the halo effect and blind spots are behavioral issues that must be addressed by all printing salespeople. Energized and passionate salespeople can overcome many entrenched human barriers. A first step is being aware that the halo effect and blind spots exist. With an expected growth of the economy, this is a good time for salespeople to step back and take a look at what will potentially hold back their sales.
Joe Rickard is the founder of Intellective Solutions. Intellective Solutions (www.intellectives.com) is a consulting and training company. They work with printing and technology organizations to improve their sales, marketing and operational effectiveness. Joe can be reached at 845 753 6156. This article was published in the Digital Edition of Printing News in August 2017.