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Print Confessions

By Graphic Arts Professionals

About Print

Print Confessions is brought to you by Bill Farquharson and Kelly Mallozzi. Each week, read the thoughts of a different graphic arts professional who will share a point of view that can only be written anonymously, and then join in the conversation by posting a comment.

One Rep’s Take on the Endless Sales Advice

Dear Sales Managers,

I have read a lot of advice to sales reps. I’ve read a lot of it in this ghost blog, in fact. It seems like everyone from consultants to managers to marketers has a lot to tell those of us who make our living (and everyone else’s) selling what you manufacture.

In the spirit of balance, I think there are some things that all these advisors and bosses need to hear from us hard-working sales reps. So, here goes.

Pet peeves - we have a few. For instance:

• Train us on the new products you want us to sell.

Don’t just buy a piece of equipment and expect us to automatically start selling whatever it does. Take the time to output samples of its work, discuss with us how it might benefit our customers, and ask us for some insights on what we think our customers might be willing to pay for it. Seriously.

• Make sales meetings worthwhile.

One Monday, I drove 90 miles to a weekly 8:00 a.m. sales meeting only to listen to the sales manager read emails out loud that he had already sent us. And that was it; nothing else was on the agenda. C’mon - I could have been out making all of us money.

• Equip us with reasonable systems for paperwork.

We want you to have the information you need, and we want to be able to manage our customers in a way that
  • (a) helps us make you money, and
  • (b) doesn’t keep us inputting data for hours every week.

• Create a reasonable compensation plan and don’t monkey with it every year.

Understand that the sales cycle has stretched as the economy has sagged, and work with us so that we can all afford to develop business that will stick. Look at me as an investment instead of an expense. If I know what I’m doing, I will make us all money. If I, on the other hand, DON’T know what I’m doing, then set me free and do us both a favor!

Selling print, not to mention all the new marketing-related services and products, may not be rocket science, but it does require some specialized knowledge. I know that hiring the right sales rep can be tough, but once you’ve found the right people, equipping us to be the best will pay off with strong, sustainable business. That’s what we all want, when you get right down to it.

OK - I’ve got my pet peeves off my chest. Next time I write, I promise to talk about some of the things that make me want to go sell every day!

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