Diary of a New Print Sales Rep – Entry #1

Bill’s note: This ghost blogger is, as the title suggests, a Newbie. We thought it might be fun and interesting to get the perspective of someone new to the job of print sales. Every eight weeks, a new entry will be made to check the rep’s progress. Your input is encouraged!

Ever get those butterflies in your stomach when you start a new job with little to no experience in that field? I have! It certainly doesn’t come without its challenges, either.

Being new to the printing industry, I’m here to share my experiences with you as I go, hopefully get some insight from others in the field, and maybe join forces with others who are just starting off as well.

I started in the industry nearly three months ago now. My first impression when taking on my new position as an account executive was, “This sounds like a lot of fun.” I have more than 10 years of sales experience, but nada selling print.

My responsibilities now require me to reach out to companies and convince them that they need MY company as their vendor for their graphics needs. But how do I do that? What do I say? What do I do? Cold calling is so out of my realm, I don’t even know where to start.

These are all things that I like to think of as challenges, and I love a challenge. Not only does this opportunity allow me to learn as I go, but it also allows me to grow as an individual and gain insight.

I expect this position to be be hard and time consuming at times, but I also know that I don’t like to lose at anything. It is for this reason that I feel this job will not only be one that I work around the clock at, but one that I feel will be worthwhile doing. One that will be a career for me and not just “another job.”

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  • Oldprinter

    get out while you can!!!!!!

  • Helen Doty

    I have been in print sales and am currently a print buyer. Great question!
    I joke about the "rules of doing business with Helen" but they are important.
    1. COMMUNICATE – on all things
    2. Ask questions. If you don’t understand what they need, you can’t provide it.
    3. If you don’t know the answer – tell them, find out and then get back to the client. Don’t b.s. It’s ok to admit you don’t know. It’s not ok to pretend to know something and give wrong information.
    4. Don’t ever let your client be embarassed. Most good buyers should understand things like pressmen getting sick; a press breaking; weather delays. There are numerous reasons why a job has the potential of being delayed. If there are delays – go back to #1 – COMMUNICATE. Reasonable people understand these things and then can react.

    Good luck!

  • Linda S

    hang on to your positive upbeat attitude!

  • Laser Dave

    I have been in the business for close to thirty years. Started in production then management and now sales (last 15 years).
    You will never have all the answers! Instead learn all the questions.
    The new breed of print buyers can use all the help you can give them.
    Learn to keep your mouth shut, your eyes open and listen with all your energy whenever you are with a customer.
    Learn from the people who actually produce what you sell, they are the real heroes in the business.
    Research the customers business. Not only is it educational it is also easier to have a conversation when you have knowledge of what they do.
    HAVE FUN!! I love what I do and my customers all know it.


  • Patrick

    It seems like the answers are more sales oriented. And you’ve been doing that for 10 years. If you don’t know how to sell by now you’re in the wrong line of work.

    The real question that needs to be addressed is…How will you succeed in PRINT sales?

    It’s all about fit. You need to figure out what type of work your company does best. The work that fits you best will also be the easiest to manage, quickest to produce, and the most profitable. Your internal team will be familiar with the requirements since it’s the kind of work they do every day. Let’s not forget less opportunity for mistakes too.

    Now that you’ve sold a few jobs you can follow your work through the plant. This will allow you to learn more about an industry that is new to you.

    For you to help your client you need to be well educated about what you sell. The best, and most profitable clients, are knowledgeable. You have to be a resource for them. Printing is definitely not a commodity. It is complicated. So make sure it’s something that your company is good at producing.

  • Lisa Bickford

    Welcome to this great industry! Don’t know a better group of people than those in the printing industry.

    My tip: Work hard, stay eager to learn, be honest, and give as much as you get from your clients, customer service people, and the people in the plant.

    All the best!

  • Bert Freeman

    Never give up

  • Dave Pilcher

    Find an experienced rep who is successful today (leading your company) and talk with them at least once every two weeks on how you are doing. They will be a great sounding board and help keep your spirits up as you work to build the foundation of your business. After a couple months you’ll want to stop talking every two weeks BUT DON’T! Push through. So much advice is the tip of the ice burg. It takes time for you to take the advice and understand how to apply it.

    Learning from someone else’s success and having a real mentor (not just a manager) is key for you understand the sales cycle and challenges you’ll face in the print industry. Good luck!!

  • Steve Low

    Dave Fellman helped me when I transitioned into print sales 13 years ago. He has a very practical and doable system. He also reminds you that not every prospect is a good prospect for your company. Do not spend too much time on one customer. Move till you find the right connections..Learn what you are better at for canvassing (phone, computer or plane old foot in the door).

  • Don_AndersenUSP

    The first and foremost thing is to put your selfish needs aside. Only when that happens can you truly begin to help others which is what sales is all about. Now you can begin. If your sales manager isn’t a very good coach, seek the guidance of a personal sales coach as well as the other successful members of your force. Usually they love to play Yoda. Join some of the selling groups on LinkedIn. Start discussions and understand the feedback they’re giving you. Know that some of this industries top income earners are new to sales so you have a lot to look forward to. Have clear objectives for everything you do then create the path to get there. Selling skills, selling skills, selling skills. I can’t emphasize it enough. And remember, people buy printing. Companies don’t.

    There’s just so much but this is a good start. I tell all my new reps to make friends with everyone you meet and learn something new everyday. Blow up conformity so there is no box. Make yourself an experience, not a commodity.

    Good luck, my friend.

  • Sheryl

    when do we get to see Entry #2? :)

  • Danielle

    I am curious what happened to the new print sales rep? I am also new to print sales and I was looking forward to updates from someone in the same position. I hope that maybe sales are so good that you haven’t had the time to post any updates?