Capital Investments Backed By Sales Strategy Yields Profitable Results
Growing a business requires making the right investments in technology and people. Printers attending PRINT 17 had the opportunity to see and evaluate a host of equipment, technology, and software that can yield many tremendous benefits when backed with solid sales strategies. While many are experts at improving profitability through manufacturing efficiencies, establishing the right processes to increase sales growth are often elusive.
InfoTrends’ study “Best Practices of High-Performance Print Sales Organizations” surveyed 250 printers, and conducted telephone interviews with 22 executives of printing companies to uncover the strategies high performance firms followed for managing the sales process, developing and training sales staff, building the right sales force, developing competitive compensation plans, and leveraging the best sales tools for supporting reps.
The study found that high-performance print sales organizations follow clearly-defined sales strategies, hold their sales staff accountable, and continually adapt their organizations to keep pace with ever-changing market conditions. Ten common best practices reported by survey respondents that experienced double-digit sales growth in the last 12 months include:
- Engage with customers on a personal level
- Devote more time to new business
- Assign a dedicated sales manager
- Make client retention a key priority
- Focus reps on business growth
- Frequently hold planning meetings
- Recognize the value of training
- Hire reps with good communications skills
- Understand that events are important to supplying sales leads
- When onboarding new reps, focus on building skills
An important finding from the study is that high-performance sales organizations recognize that sales force training is critically important to the sales effort. When asked to identify their top sales management challenges, respondents most commonly cited developing the skills of sales reps, and training new reps (Figure 1). Pricing pressures rounded out the top three, but it is interesting to note that high-growth respondents considered pricing to be less of an issue than overall respondents.
In addition, high-performance print sales organizations have a strong sales management structure focused on developing and following best practices for enhancing staff productivity, hiring the best sales talent, improving sales staff skills, coaching sales reps, holding staff accountable for sales results, and growing sales through new and existing customers. Successful print sales organizations also provide their sales reps with clear directions and guidance for targeting profitable markets with best applications.
While there is much to be learned from high-performance print sales organizations, it is important to keep in mind that these firms are the exception. In reality, most printing businesses lack the management focus to mirror the actions of industry leaders. As a result, many printing companies succumb to pricing pressures that result in lower margins and declining profitability. Unlike sales leaders, these firms find it much harder to hire the staff needed to secure future sales growth. By following the best practices identified by high-growth companies, struggling firms can take the appropriate actions to create a sales environment that yields growth and results.