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Sales Relationships : Don’t Cut Out Print Buyers

August 2011 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor
Attaining success in printing sales is not all that different than becoming the next Rory McIlroy on the PGA Tour. Sure, NO ONE is going to become the next McIlroy, but perhaps a golfing/sales analogy is apt, since 99.5 percent of salespeople can be found on the links at some point.

What both have in common during that make-or-break road to success is the shot that’s taken on their approach. The aggressive golfer can quickly find himself in the drink or with an unplayable lie (insert your own Tiger Woods joke). A printing salesman won’t have to go looking for his balls—not in the literal sense, at least—but could find a cold shoulder or dial tone greeting him in short order following an approach shot that totally misses the mark.

The new reality of the economy and the ever-changing printing industry is in danger of turning a legion of salespeople into Roy McAvoys, the fictional character played by Kevin Costner in the movie “Tin Cup” who refused to take a more cautious (read: safer) approach to a hole “guarded” by a water hazard.

As the print pie shrinks and the economy fails to pave the way for sustainable revenue flows, graphic arts industry sales reps will continue to push the competition envelope and perhaps attempt a shortcut or two to land the account.

As many printers have morphed into marketing services providers (MSP) in light of the shrinking pie, some salespeople are bypassing the prospect’s print buyer in order to reach what is perceived as a more accepting and appreciative audience for the printer’s value-added products and services. The popular reasoning is that a traditional print buyer is too far downstream; the newly evolved MSP can offer far more than just printing, and some argue that in order to avail themselves of the printer’s agency-level marketing tool belt, the client’s “requisitioner” or other upper-level decision maker needs to be brought into the equation.

Simply put, is it wise or profitable to seek out requisitioners or corporate-level types, as opposed to print buyers, in search of work? Taking it a step further, as printers take on more of the services that have traditionally been identified with advertising agencies, can our marketing-evolved printer play nice with an ad agency client?
 

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