"printing sales"

Nature Versus Nurture in Selling

There is not a week that goes by where I do not read or hear from someone that the pace of change being made within commercial and in plant printing organizations is too slow.

There are dire discussions about the destruction of printing due to disruption of digital media and social media. It is a somber and relentless drumbeat by many printing pundits, printers, analysts and consultants.

The recommendation is almost all the same. Printers must change their business model, redefine themselves or extend their services, solutions and product to keep pace with the digital encroachment of printing.

Why many printers are not changing. The answer is simple. It is hard to do and often very costly.

The Rule of 24

All research, on what makes an individual successful in direct sales, always points in the same fundamental direction. Confidence more than any other trait is the single most important indicator of success.

The importance of confidence is not only true in sales but in almost any profession. There are many great quotes about the importance of confidence. My favorite is from Samuel Johnson, “Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.”

I refer to the Rule of 24 when talking to salespeople and sales managers about the importance of confidence

Sales versus Marketing

For many businesses, coordinating sales and marketing messages is a daunting task. What senior management wants to communicate to customers is often at odds with what is actually communicated by sales and those close to customers.

We have found this to be a common problem among many organizations. There is a simple test to determine whether marketing and sales are aligned. It is to compare what is stated on a company’s website, Facebook page and marketing brochures versus what is actually being said by salespeople. Try this with your own organization.

For instance, here is an example of poorly coordinated messages we recently found within medium size printing company

Stop Spinning and Start Selling #Printing

With the advancement of digital printing, W2P and the gradual acceptance of cross media printing solutions, many printing salespeople have a lot of new products and services to offer their customers. There is a great deal to learn and a much to do.

The key question is “are printing salespeople and their management up to the task?”  During our sales and marketing consulting engagements with graphic communications organizations, we find many are.

Here is the challenge. Large customers have continued to reduce expenses and in particular marketing budgets. Many small and mid-size customers have suffered the most. They have been especially hammered by uncertainty and a slow recovery. It is tough enough to sell printing in a good economy; it is really rough to sell in a bad one where there are lots of less expensive digital and social media choices

#Sales Management and Infoparalysis

A new trend is taking shape in sales management

Over the last few years, we have seen more and more companies move to a control sales management style. This is particularly evident in larger companies. The theory here is if you determine all the steps necessary to generate an order and then manage the sales force to those steps, sales will increase. An added benefit is it helps executives provide more fact based revenue and  profit forecasts.

Using sales automation software or CRM systems, sales management and executives count how many prospects are in the pipeline and what sales activities are being generated to produce orders. It is science over art.

A good compensation plan and a “kick in the pants”

For a long time, we worked with companies whose sales management program could best be described as a good compensation plan and a “kick in the pants”. In this scenario, the sales people determine where the prospects are and what needs to be done. Everyone is happy as long as business is coming in.

Why Do So Many #Printing Companies Respond To Blind Request for Quotes?

It is mystery why so many direct sales people are still attempting to sell complex products and services in a non-consultative way. Consultative selling is simply a process of knowing what the implied and expressed needs and wants of clients before making a recommendation. This is generally achieved through asking relevant and informed questions.

Research, surveys and experience that tell us consultative sellers are more successful. This simply means that those salespeople who know and respond to their customer’s business, pain points and business model make more sales and earn more commissions.

A good example of how this works was illustrated by a recent experience we had. We worked with a client within the graphic communications market helping them put together a large and complex RFP. All the potential suppliers had an equal chance to gain information and ask questions.

Substrates and the Selling of #Printing

Here is an email I received from a great printing executive and legendary nonprofit fundraiser, Frank Regnante. He is one a number of pros who have urged me to write more about the importance of substrates in the selling of print. I completely agree

Stop Me When You See Some #Printing You Like

Gaining an appointment with a customer and first showing them endless samples and examples of your printing products is a prescription for a failed sales call. It is still a common crutch for many printing salespeople to carry a brief case full of print samples. This is known as a “pitch book”.


Gaining an appointment with a prospective customer who can actually make a decision to buy is the hope and dream of every sales person who sells complex products or services. No new customer is gained unless a customer’s curiosity is elevated to interest and a call to action. The surest way to lose a golden opportunity is to misuse precious face to face time with a customer by sharing information and samples that the customer does not need or care about.

#Printing After All Is a Personal Service

Most print providers get most of their new business from existing customers. With so many commercial printers trying to compete in a price sensitive and commoditized world, customer service is often the only differentiator among competitors. Providing outstanding customer service is a critical necessity.

I recently ran across an old 1922 ad for a large NY Printer, Charles Francis Press in Printer’s Ink Magazine. The title of the advertisement was “Is the Charles Francis Press Too Big?”

The gist of the ad was that this large printing company was easy to do business with. The copy of the ad written by owner, Gus Oakes, emphasized that any customer was welcome to come to the plant and ask any employee what was the status of their job. The promise was that the Charles Francis Press will treat every job and every customer special. 

Social Media and Commercial #Printing

At Graph Expo 2012, I participated in two education events where the topic of social media was discussed vigorously. Essentially the question came down to two key points. Should Commercial Printers be using social media in their sales and marketing strategies? The answer is YES.

In a July, 2012 poll conducted by Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS) published by the AARP Bulletin, 69% of ages 18 to 49% and 38% of ages 50-plus use some type of Social Media.  These represent big numbers that will likely get even bigger.

At the very least, just like with any communications media, Printers must know how to integrate social media and print. 

Here are two important to do’s for every Printer.