Hey Chicken Little…the Sky Is NOT Falling

“I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for.”—Thornton Wilder

Recently, a seasoned veteran print sales person left our company claiming, “Print is dead.” He had horrible sales volumes over the last three years. The reps complaint—or, more precisely, his excuse—was that no one is buying print. That’s funny, my presses are running.

But, I see his point; it’s different out there. It’s not that people aren’t buying print, it’s that people are buying print and using it differently. And, professional print buyers are not the only people buying print; administrative assistants and CEOs need to buy print, too.

Businesses operate differently today and they communicate differently today. As a result, the smart print communication partner ask, “How can I help you communicate with your customers?”

So, is print different? Yes, but the better question to ask might be, “Are people different?” Does anyone want a subject matter expert anymore? Does this new buyer really know as much about print as I do? I doubt it, but that does not matter.

Buyers don’t need a print sales person. They are looking for someone to help them communicate with their customers in a relevant, timely manner. They need a partner who will roll up their sleeves and work hard to understand their businesses and be active in them. This is not the role of order taker; this is the model of how a relationship works.

Here’s the deal…I’m the one in charge. Do I blame the sales person for not being able to make his sales numbers? Or, do I blame the economy? Do I change my sales management style? Do I put more goals and incentives in place? What made this person—this print veteran—decide “print is dead?”

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  • Joe Kern

    Wow! Great post. It really is about changing our thinking and approach in the industry. We need to evolve and grow.

  • Brent Clarke

    Great Article. As a provider to the printing industry, I talk to far too many Chicken Little’s and some days I go home wondering if I should get out too. Hey if there are not going to be any printers in 5 years, we won’t have anyone to supply solutions to, but then something like this comes along, or I talk to one of our customers who is run off their feet or I see a stat that actually shows overall print actually going up from quarter to quarter and I am renewed! Print definitely is changing but change always offers opportunity!

  • Blair

    I saw this same idea expressed in a news letter put out by a recruiting company that had a booth at Graph Expo this year. It seems clear to them that if you are failing, print is dying and that if your are flourishing you have adapted to the changing technology landscape. Print is not dead, one only needs to look in the mirror to determine where your opinion comes from.

  • Andrea

    Amen. It definitely takes creative thinking and willingness to change and adapt. To stay afloat and profitable, we’ve had to branch out into other areas and rethink the "paradigm" by investing in more digital press options and a mailing department which allows us to keep our staff busy by not out-sourcing. As the office manager I am always acutely aware of the numbers, and we’ve managed to weather this economic storm pretty well. Although my liberal arts psychology degree has not necessarily paid off financially, the most inportant thing I learned: the ability to adapt is the measure of "intelligence". Survival of the fittest – what a concept!

  • Mary Beth Smith

    Couldn’t have said it better myself…

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