Printing sales

Selling Print is a Great Career

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We know you are out there. There are thousands of students and professionals capable of selling print within the graphic communications industry.  

Our industry, like many others, is undergoing a major transition. What makes the graphic communications industry a good choice for a career in sales is that we are accustomed to change and innovation. Offset is giving way to exciting new production inkjet technology. New consumer and industrial applications are being developed every day, and many print providers are a driving force in cross-media communications.

We continually hear from print providers across the US who are looking for confident and creative salespeople to help drive new revenues and profits. For many printing companies, sales and marketing is their number one priority. Having the ability to produce great products and services is not enough.

Sales jobs currently available in the printing industry range from direct sales positions presenting complex printing solutions to customers, to inside telemarketing salespeople who generate leads for new products and services. We have trained thousands of printing salespeople. We are always impressed with their commitment not only to make high commissions, but also their commitment to customers and their pride in the printing industry.

Here are some reasons why selling printing is a great career:

Print is a huge business. If you consider print and related industries such as paper, ink and industrial printing, there are close to one million workers currently employed within the industry. Almost all of the 45,000 print locations nationwide require salespeople. It is among the largest manufacturing industries in the United States.

Print is exciting. The industry is a technology-driven business. Imaging innovations, along with the constant stream of new advancements and uses of print, will keep salespeople very busy for a very long time. Whether a new packaging application or a beautiful personalized direct mail piece, printing salespeople always have something compelling to talk about with their customers.

Print works well with others. Most marketing and business executives agree that no one channel can gain awareness and generate business. New communication marketing platforms and data analytics allow customers to track which factors drive customers to buy. Emails, social media and digital marketing alone are not enough. Print can be personalized, customized and effective for each recipient when combined with other forms of communications.   

Print is green.  Industry champion, Two Sides (www.twosidesna.org) has done a great job overcoming the myths surrounding print’s negative impact on the environment. It is a great story for salespeople to share with the many millennials who have misconceptions about print. Print is sustainable and is unique among communication channels.

Print selling builds skills. In addition to deep knowledge of printing and customer buying models, successful printing salespeople possess great listening, negotiating, presentation and closing skills. Developing these and other selling skills makes a professional salesperson a vital component of any printing organization and can ensure a long term career.

Print selling is a great profession. Print selling is a perfect fit for those who have the self-discipline to work both independently and on teams. Many have moved from sales to management and executive positions throughout the graphic communication industry.

Print is profitable. Through the ebb and flow of economic upturns and downturns, we see changing fortunes for many print providers. At any time, there are countless graphic communications companies and salespeople achieving great financial rewards. Through hard work and skill, salespeople can earn a substantial income commensurate with their sales and achievements. Selling has been in the past, and will continue to be, a lucrative career.

Print selling is the future. There will always be a job for a great printing salesperson. Though customer buying cycles and attitudes may change, the selling process and the skills required to close sales do not. As our industry continues to change and transform, successful salespeople learn and adapt. They are the ones who will take the message about the exciting changes in our industry to their customers.

Finding opportunities for a print selling job is not very difficult. There are thousands of openings. Every national and local print industry trade association has a “job bank” with ample opportunities. In addition, public web sites and executive recruiters are constantly on the lookout for new and existing salespeople.

The best news is there are positions for any level of salesperson. Recent graduates or those desiring to enter sales can launch their careers as inside salespeople, customer service reps or front counter workers. More experienced salespeople can work in a very large variety of sales positions selling products, services and software. Also, vendors who sell equipment, paper, ink and software are always looking for new salespeople. For someone like me, who has been in a sales and sales executive role for many years, I cannot think of a better career than selling in the Graphic Communications Industry.

Joe Rickard is the founder of Intellective Solutions. Intellective Solutions (www.intellectives.com) is a consulting and printing industry training company. They work with printing, STEM and technology organizations to improve their operational effectiveness.  Joe can be reached at 845 753 6156. This article was published in the February edition of the Printing News (http://www.printingnews.com/magazine}

Four Areas to Assess your Sales Coverage

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Sales coverage is one of those phrases that many owners and managers worry and talk about when meeting with their salespeople. But what does sales coverage really mean? More importantly, are common printing industry sales coverage models effective for today’s printing environment?

What is Sales Coverage?

The way a company structures its sales process and resources to drive revenue is its “sales coverage model”. Printers have many different types of sales coverage models, depending on the type of company they are, their size, their customer base and also the types of products and services they offer. For instance, one company may use a combination of telemarketing, internet marketing and some outside direct salespeople while another may have a team of direct salespeople coupled with an ecommerce portal.

Four key elements of evaluating your Sales Coverage Model

Below are four areas that are common issues within printing company sales coverage models.

1. Sales Territory with No Boundaries

There is still a persistent and stubborn practice in our industry to allow printing salespeople to determine where and whom they call on. They gain new customers wherever they can find them. This strategy most often fails and causes frustration for both the salesperson and the sales manager.

Management, not salespeople, are best able to determine the type of accounts and/or markets that best sync to the company’s products and services. Management picks the targets and salespeople call on them. Effective targeting of likely suspects based on “best fit”, is the most efficient and productive use of valuable sales and marketing resources.

2. Too Few Hands on Deck

Most sales territories we find are much too large to be effectively managed by the salesperson. In today’s market, everyone within the printing company must be part of the selling process. All employees must feel accountable to reel in new business, not just the direct salesperson or CSR.

Though there will always be tension and battles between sales and the production team, complex and large opportunities require a team effort to be successful.

That means everyone connected with the workflow supporting a potential customer participates in some way in sales calls, presentations, customer problem resolution, and proposals. Regular customer contact and problem solving by management, sales and operations is a requirement.

3. No Credit for Leads

Perhaps the biggest disconnect on an effective sales coverage model that we hear is the issue of lead generation. Too often managers and owners resent crediting direct salespeople for business that result from leads. A common feeling among owners is that the salespeople should be generating their own leads and companies should not have to pay commissions on this business.

New models are evolving where companies are segmenting sales efforts. The thinking is that leads are generated by inside sales telemarketing reps, digital and social media and digital marketing efforts. Higher paid direct salespeople spend their time qualifying and driving these opportunities through the pipeline to a sale.

If there is a concern about the amount of leads that are being generated by salespeople, the issue most often lies with marketing, sales process or compensation and not where or how the lead was generated.

4. Marketing versus Sales

In the past, only large companies tended to have strong links between marketing and sales. This is the approach where marketing drives awareness and consideration into the hands of direct sales people. With the transformation of the internet, all companies must consider carefully how marketing is integrated into sales and how this affects sales coverage.

A fully developed and updated marketing plan is the surest way to ensure that marketing and sales are working well together. Targeting accounts and markets, selling the right products and services and sharing common objectives are just a few areas that should be examined and aligned for success.

Next Steps

To determine if a company has the right sales coverage model, managers and owners should consider the following:

  • Which accounts and markets are the most lucrative based on the products and services of the company?
  • How will marketing and sales work together more closely to generate business?
  • What types and amounts of salespeople are required to cover the identified opportunities and at what cost? Should the company use inside sales, direct sales, team selling, sales specialists, ecommerce or a combination of all
  • Does the compensation plan reflect where leads are generated and how much effort is required by the salesperson to turn leads into prospects and then customers?

As with most industries, technology has driven fundamental changes to the selling process within the printing industry. We find most print providers stay with what has worked for them in the past. Old habits die hard. It is never too late to reconsider your company’s sales coverage model.

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. Follow him on Twitter @joerickardIS. This article was published at PrintingNews.com

How Top Salespeople Stay Motivated

With a steady drumbeat of negativity and business challenges, even the best printing salespeople sometimes struggle to stay focused and motivated.  From motivational books to daily meditation, we have seen salespeople try any or all techniques imaginable. Whatever the strategy, self-motivation is always longer lasting and sustainable than external motivation.

Unfortunately, there is no magic potion to ensure salespeople can stay motivated. With the changes taking place within printing and communications in general, salespeople must stay motivated to embrace change and forge ahead to success.

What is Motivation?

Six Ways to Confront Customer Indifference

When selling print, a customer who lacks any interest in looking at new printing providers, print products, solutions or services can be the toughest barrier that any salesperson can face. For many salespeople, customer indifference is their greatest competitor.

The reason indifference is so frustrating to print salespeople is because it is based on customer perception about print.  They view print as a commodity and are not interested in looking at any new ideas.

Common responses from customers are:

“We are happy with our current print supplier.”

“We are not using direct mail anymore.”

“We are moving to digital marketing.”

“Talk to our purchasing department.”

Customer Indifference Can Be a Salesperson’s Toughest Competitor

Logic and Analysis is Not Enough

A big mistake both print and digital marketers make is they think that rational analysis by customers is how buying decisions are made.  Big printing decisions are more often made by emotion as by logic. Information and facts can prove your case but emotions move the customer to action

Printers, What Do You Sell?

The very first thing that a printing salesperson must do before conducting a face to face sales call is to be able to clearly articulate what they are selling. Most of us have experienced situations where after talking to a salesperson, we were not really sure what the salesperson was actually offering. Customers find this frustrating and annoying.