The sales and corresponding CSR roles have been a part of our industry for as long as one can remember. But I don’t think anyone can recall in recent times the same type of changeover that the industry is currently going through.
Companies are being forced to adapt and change how they operate in order to survive and serve their customers like never before. Not to mention competing against electronic media, a struggling economy, and a dog-eat-dog marketplace all the while.
When I look into the future with my crystal ball, I see a different type of printer that will operate under a non-traditional sales/CSR model. There will be a drastic change in the way printers communicate with their clients and handle their workflow internally. What will result is the elimination of the CSR role and a transition to a redefined sales representative possessing profound new-media marketing skills.
This drive for future change stems from the rapid digital transformation, increase use of Web storefronts and JDF workflow automation. The printing companies that survive will have invested in each of these technologies and, if they are used correctly, will thrive because of them.
InfoTrends’ “Ultimate Guide to Web Print Solutions” predicts $30 billion (25 percent) of U.S. primary print industry shipments to be fully e-enabled (excluding e-mail and FTP) in 2011. It sees the majority of the growth coming from existing print volume migrating from traditional job submission methods to Web-enabled services. Increased digital print volumes will also contribute to the growth, as this work will contribute to the growth of print being ordered through Web-to-print systems.
As this trend continues to grow, the personal interaction between customer and sales/CSR will drastically decline. With a storefront system, you are putting the tools of a CSR directly in the hands of a customer. The customer can now preflight, make necessary corrections, generate electronic proofs and electronically sign off on the job.
As the OK’d job electronically enters the fully integrated JDF workflow, there is no longer a need for a physical job ticket or traditional CSR “job management.” Real-time job information and shop floor data collection allows for a clear overview of the exact statuses and job information.
I write this blog in a positive manner, since as our industry progresses with technology, there will naturally be changes within organizational structures. With the elimination of a CSR, the sales rep role would naturally evolve. Social media expertise, robust online marketing tactics and knowledge of the JDF workflow are just some of the skills needed in the next-generation sales force.