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System Selling Solutions

March 2007 By Peter Winters
THE PRESENT selling conditions represent the most unusual opportunity in the history of the printing industry—the realistic possibility to acquire, lock down and sustain new market share at unprecedented rates.

Today’s printing services companies have the potential to transform from a commoditized print selling environment to one in which they are truly perceived as trusted advisors to clients and prospects—so much so that their competition is somewhat or completely removed from any discussion of the client’s future production requirements.

Many service providers have already begun the required makeover, although all indications seem to point to a sales skills maturation level of well under 15 percent.

Systems or establishment selling typically implies a deliverable whereby the service provider has elevated the conversation far beyond print, to circumstances where the client’s marketing objectives or business process challenges are given top billing.

An exponentially rising ability to seamlessly wrap marketing logistics tools together makes this approach increasingly viable. The upside to this approach is the ability to differentiate your company and secure large portions of net new business.

In the sector of “traditional” print sales, which represents tens of billions of dollars annually, there is an unspoken, grudgingly agreed-upon playing field in which most companies compete for print work in a very crowded market space.

In systems selling, the savvy advisor is trying to secure significant portions, or all, of the production supply chain for each prospect’s marketing efforts. The chance to grow new revenue by the hundreds of thousands of dollars (and in some cases more) from one sale, is being realized by some industry firms. Moreover, these types of sales usually increase the probability of:

• exclusive selling opportunities;

• unprecedented revenue growth;

• higher profit margins;

• increased client longevity;

• lower costs of sales and, most importantly;

• increased business valuations.

The salesperson’s “advisory” skills needs to be up to par, and senior management has to be aligned if a services organization is going to be successful in this new environment.

There are multiple factors involved in the sales- person who achieves success in this arena. These attributes include the ability to speak with senior executives in marketing, carry their weight in consultative conversations, understand complex selling cycles, the ability to be patient as the progression ensues, and the ability to understand and focus on the big picture objective throughout the cycle.

Most print service providers don’t boast a stable full of advisory-level salespeople. Approximately one out of 10 existing print sales personnel are sufficiently qualified to engage in this high-end sales discussion; often it’s the owner-entrepreneur who is the individual most qualified.


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