Printing Impressions

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Mary Schilling

Inkjet Genie

By Mary Schilling

About Mary

Mary Schilling works with all the elements of the digital process-from conventional and inkjet technologies to fluids and substrates-and provides technical support to print providers on optimizing print quality while lowering total print cost.

Understanding the dynamics of the digital marketplace, and the incredible growth and advancements in inkjet technology, Mary provides customers with print quality, color gamut, fluid consumption, machine and print quality analysis, utilizing G7 methodology. She also works with inkjet fluid and machine developers to align paper development of new, innovative inkjet substrates.

As the owner of Schilling Inkjet Consulting, she consults with fluid and inkjet machinery suppliers and end users on how to improve color and print quality for paper, plastics, metal, fabric and glass with UV, solvent and aqueous inkjet fluids.

Mary received Innovator of the Year awards from the Flexographic Technical Association and from Xplor International for her efforts in closing the gap between document printing and digital packaging.

She is G7 certified and a member of the IDEAlliance Print Properties Committee.

 

“Show Up and Throw Up”

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Have you ever had a customer interested in your product, and you scrambled so quickly to impress him and submit pricing and samples quicker than the competition, that you were unprepared and totally missed the real “need” of the client? This selling tactic is called “Show Up and Throw Up.”

It can be found in any industry. But in the inkjet industry, it has an overall negative effect on the market.

When selling high-speed, wide-format inkjet output, the sale can take up to one year. It is highly competitive, with many inkjet devices producing about the same print quality all around the same pricing structure. Yes, it is a long sales cycle. But, it must be remembered, it’s not a used car sales transaction, but rather a world-changing event for the buyer.

This makes growing the high-speed inkjet market a slow-evolving process. We would all like it to move faster and gain a faster acceptance into the printing world. But, as long as we use the same sales tactics designed around selling a “product” and not how the product will “impact the customer’s market,” the sales cycle will remain a long-duration sales process.

So, if it is a long sales cycle, why is the selling tactic, more often than not, a high-speed, who can get there first, let’s throw everything at it all at once and see what sticks, selling concept?

Let me explain. I had the pleasure to sit in with the VP of Production at a large print shop who was looking at a new piece of inkjet equipment. We will call him Bob. Bob took over the family business and has expanded its market during the past few decades. Currently Bob’s shop runs offset and digital toner devices in different forms, both color and mono. Bob is interested in integrating this new inkjet technology into his workflow.

He started talking with a couple of OEMs who, in turn, sent salespeople in to talk to him. He was confused a bit with the first representative, as it was his regular toner rep who had never mentioned anything about inkjet previously. And, as he expected, this gentleman was knowledgeable about toner, but very green on discussing inkjet.

Bob is concerned with overall cost, but also how it will impact current and future markets. The rep struggled with Bob’s questions of how high-speed, wide-format inkjet printing would impact his business:

  • Financially—machine and consumable costs
  • Workflow to existing equipment and processes—Six Sigma
  • How will it impact existing customers—different selling strategy
  • What new markets it will create—now and in the future
  • Where the technology will be in five to 10 years

According to Bob, none of the sales reps were prepared to talk in such detail, as well as understand him needing such a device. They aggressively focused on “iron” and not how this device would work in harmony, now and in the future, in his existing environment and processes.

Each one scrambled to submit pricing and samples before actually spending any time with him in his shop to understand what impact it would have on his world. They threw up right in front of him. Consequently, his comfort level with inkjet deteriorated quickly.

As I have mentioned many times before in my blogs, it is the market’s responsibility to teach new and existing users the differences and the impact inkjet will have now and in the future. And to make them feel comfortable with changes that will occur to their processes and markets.

How often have you experienced “show up and throw up” selling? How do you ensure that sales reps slow down and truly understand your needs? What do you feel needs to be changed in the sales process to make you feel comfortable about disrupting your world with new technology?

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