Five Things Any Digital Equipment Sales Rep SHOULD Do

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and enhance your offset or copying offerings with some production-grade digital printing equipment. Once you put the word out that you are looking, you should expect to get calls from at least five world-class manufacturers of equipment that, if properly placed according to your goals and needs, should make you some nice profits.

Here are five things that digital printing equipment reps should be doing, saying and delivering to help you make this very important decision:

1) They should help you anticipate the low-hanging fruit.

You should be hearing questions like:

  • If we placed the machine tomorrow, who would be the first 10 companies you would call on
  • What would you say to them?

And then they should follow that up with sample talk tracks for showing your existing customers all the great new things you’ll be able to do for them once you go digital

2) They should help you map out the production footprint—physically and early.

You should not be getting attached to any solution until you know that it will fit in with your current space, including any construction or demolition plans. Have your production staff be a part of these discussions to talk about integrating with finishing equipment and any other potential logistics challenges.

3) They should help you develop a business model.

You should have a ballpark projection for volume for the first year by month, along with a snapshot of the return on your investment, including consumables, click charges, and paper, so that you can build a pricing model that is competitive as well as realistic. You MUST use real numbers here.

4) They should be presenting you with a post-sales support plan.

This support should extend up to and include hosting an open house, so that you know that they are not simply going to drop the gray box on you one day and wish you luck. They should be invested in your success, know your industry well, and have lots of ideas as to how to sell stuff quickly and profitably.

5) You should be given a clear picture of how the service side of things will run.

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  • Digital Press Vet

    First of all, whomever wrote this doesn’t have a clue about the real history of the digital press, the completely unique economics associated with digital or the practical evolution that puts a digital press on a printer’s floor when they truly need one. My guess is a digital press rep wrote it. He sure hasn’t owned a press, let alone multiple ones. Since when do you take advice from a print sales rep? Ever hear of "credence goods"? Look it up on wikipedia. Buying iron will not bring in business! There are 10,000 HP Indigo presses out there in the world between 500k and over 1 million and 85% of them sit idle for most of 1 eight hour shift. And this rep who is writing this "ad" uses the ROI argument. You cannot guarantee anyone ROI if you don’t have access to their financials. For all you know, I could be operating a front for the mafia and in that case, what do I care about ROI? Buying iron worked twenty years ago when the wealthy successful printer could differentiate themselves with more colors, higher speeds and faster turn and no one else could afford it. But with credit, technology and the proliferation of digital presses, it doesn’t work today. The last thing one should do is add cost to generate business.

    Now for the whole "customer" thing. Today’s customer doesn’t care what kind of press you have, how much it cost, how pretty it is or frankly, if you even have one. They wouldn’t care if you use a press or if you’re a magician and simply made the stuff appear out of thin air. They care about themselves, the price they pay and whether or not you can deliver it to appease their incessant and impatient demands. As for the numbers, there isn’t an MIS system out there that can handle the model of conventional print estimating alongside digital print estimating along with workflow, process, finishing equipment and so on. If you’re a conventional shop, your equipment will not support small run digital. Once again, what in the world does the rep know about your MIS system? By selling you the press, he’s selling you ‘HOPE". Nothing more. Don’t fall for it! Go out on your own and interview other press owners. You can find them. Ask them about their colorful history of digital printing. Then learn from them and get real customers who have real digital needs. Make sure your sales force can and are capable of selling digital (most are not). Start by selling the work and then sub the work out before you sink one lousy dollar into your own press. If the demand is there, you’ll find the right time to buy the press. Print has too much supply and not enough demand. Adding to the supply isn’t going to help the demand problem but it will allow the rep to walk away a whole lot happier and richer. I’m familiar with every digital press player and they all use the same tactics of "hope" and "fear of losing a customer" to sell their iron. You guys aren’t fooling anyone. If you keep allowing your ad sponsors to write these bogus ads, it’ll come back to haunt you. Why not write real stuff to help people accomplish real feats instead of padding the pockets of your ad clients. How about writing on process, efficiency, training your staff to move into digital before printers dig themselves another big hole it will take them years to get out of. Printers today will only win as they learn new technologies and better internal processes to more efficiently compete in what is now a commodity industry.

  • Fred

    WOW, I guess that just about covers that.
    I did like the "customer" thing. Dead on!

  • Mixing it up

    Very interesting response, DPV – Did you happen to see that the by line for the piece is a digital press salesperson? and just out of curiosity, is there anything in the original blog post that is not true or a valid expectation from anyone buying a press today? Your tirade sounds more like a warning not to get into digital, which is really unfair and not very good advice for a lot of companies out there….

  • Brent Clarke

    I tend to agree with DPV that a lot of printers who put their equipment first can get themselves into trouble by putting the cart before the horse. Printers have outsourced bindery and finishing services for years successfully (some of our clients used our software to do the very thing described) establishing the market before investing in the iron. Why stepping into a digital market should be any different I don’t really know. I must however mention, there is software/MIS packages that do very well in supporting the subtle differences between digital and offset as well as Large format. In our case screen printing and web offset also simultaneously when needed). Not me talking, this is our clients testimonials but based on prospects I’ve talked to over the years using other MIS packages, many systems do seem to struggle with this issue.