The Finishing Salesperson's Guide to Survival - Part 1
Here's a familiar story. You've been selling traditional bindery systems for the last 10, 15, or 20 or so years. But in the last five, or so, you've noticed real change happening around you. The cutters, folders, saddle stitchers and perfect binders that were your stock-in-trade aren't moving like they used to. You've been affected by printer and bindery consolidation and closures that have hit your territory. Needless to say, you've got to come up with a strategy for survival in this environment. But, take heart. By re-positioning yourself for this new (and challenging) landscape, you can still make a good living.
Step 1 - Expand Your Horizons:
I have a unique window on the industry because I regularly interact with both digital postpress, and traditional bindery/finishing salespeople. One observation is that both seem to live in separate universes. The digital postpress people (who are typically VERY busy) work a lot in transactional, banking, finance, and printers who are making major investments in digital print.
The "traditional" bindery salespeople have been calling on their base of printers and binders whom they have known for many years. They don't seem to step out of that zone often enough. They should. Even "all-digital" operations need a fair amount of conventional finishing equipment. Banking, transactional, and finance in-house operations still need to convert lots of paper into useful end products.
Traditional finishing people need to grow their prospect base beyond what they've been comfortable with. And there are lots of resources to help them do this. PIWorld regularly covers new technology and users. LinkedIn hosts many groups devoted to both digital print and finishing (I moderate one of them). The In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association will give you a window into the in-plant finishing operations of many institutions.
Do you know the digital printer salespeople in your territory? You should. These folks are selling into your potential prospects every day. Reach out to them and educate them on what you offer. They appreciate knowing more about finishing because it may enable them to make a sale.
Many traditional finishing systems manufacturers are now making systems that cross over into the digital space and its applications. But you need to get familiar with the key players in that space and familiarize them with your technology. I'm not saying that this is easy. But it's vital if you want to stay in the finishing industry.