DeWese--The Survey Results Are In!
In my March 1999 column, I included a print salesperson survey and promised to send a magic "sales power" paperweight to everyone who completed and mailed in the survey.
I hope I never weaken and make this kind of offer again. The mailman has been bringing in bags of surveys, and I am bone-tired from wrapping these little boxes.
Furthermore, in a post-column wave of euphoric largess, I decided to send every survey respondent a Sean McArdle audio tape and my book, "Now Get Out There and Sell Something!"
So, this whole stupid survey idea has cost me a bunch of money, and I had to tabulate the results. Attila the Editor wouldn't give me limited math skills of one of his blood-sucking assistant editors to add up the results.
I forget that a lot of print salespeople are lonely and are looking for any means possible to communicate with the outside world. Their bosses don't show any interest in them, except to scream at them when the plant is slow, so they're usually the first folks to pass on chain letters or to respond to the Mañana Man's surveys.
OK. Here are the results.
The first question asked the salesperson to indicate how much he/she intends to grow sales during 1999. My readers are real winners, and the average was a whopping 32.21 percent. For overall results, see the chart at right.
The next question, a fill-in-the-blank was: "I will prospect hard and develop [blank] new accounts during 1999." The average was 15 new accounts! Count 'em, 15 big ones. Fifteen new accounts! That gets my old corpuscles moving fast in my veins.
Yessiree, I will stack my readers up against the readers of any other printing industry columnist. No slackers. No louts. No bums hangin' around this column.
Question No. 3 was: "I will find the files on [blank] former or lost accounts and call on them to reactivate their business during 1999."
The average answer was 10!
There is nothing more challenging to a salesperson than to reactivate a lost account. Especially, if the lost account hates the ground your bosses walk on. When you reactivate a lost account, and you are king or queen of the world, your self-confidence will soar!
Question No. 4 went like this: "I will take my CSR to lunch and thank him/her at least [blank] times during 1999." The point of this question obviously was that it takes a team to sell a printing job and to keep a printing account. All too frequently the CSRs are ignored for their immense contribution to sales.
Once again, my readers scored big! They intend to buy lunch for their CSRs an average of eight times during 1999. I suspect they'd do it more often, but they know they will be too busy many days to even have lunch. Maybe they'll send in some box lunches.
We're up to No. 5. It read: "I will take overt action to thank the plant manager, press department, prepress, bindery and shipping departments at least [blank] times during 1999!" My readers are team players and are grateful to their co-workers. The average response was 32 times.
Education is a vital charge-up for salespeople and question No. 6 was: "I will attend at least [blank] NAPL, PIA, GATF or Graphic Arts Sales Foundation seminars/workshops during 1999." The Mañana Man's readers said they would attend at least two sales education seminars during 1999.
And, my readers won't just sit in the seminars like a bunch of dummies. They will be the best students in the classes. I hope the aforementioned associations remember to thank me when their attendance at sales seminars zooms this year.
Question No. 7 stuck to the education theme and asked: "I will read at least [blank] books on sales improvement during 1999." The average response was two books. It's no wonder these folks will improve sales more than 30 percent this year—two sales seminars and two books will fill their brains with new ideas and sales techniques.
Questions No. 8 through No. 10 moved over to the important subjects of sales management and company loyalty.
Question No. 8 was multiple choice. It asked: "Our owner/CEO is [circle one]: a) A great manager and a role model for everyone; b) A well-intended person who could stand a little management training; c) A good person, but doesn't have a clue about running a printing company; d) An ego-driven idiot who is just this side of Attila the Hun."
Sixty-three percent of the survey respondents selected a) and rated their owner/CEO a "great manager." Another 12 percent rated their leader b) and "in need of some training." I was distressed that the remaining 25 percent, about evenly divided, rated their boss either c) or d).
Maybe you people with the c) and d) managers had better start cleaning up your resumes.
The next question was: "Our company is: a) Well-poised to move into the new millennium and will survive and prosper; b) So-so and we may or may not make it; c) Has been sold to one of the industry consolidators. Thankfully, 66 percent of the responses indicated that their company will be alive and well in the post-2001 era. The remaining 34 percent either had questions about the company health or had seen their company acquired by a consolidator.
The final question was also multiple choice. I was disappointed that only 64 percent of the respondents said they were proud to work for their company and intend to stay. Eight percent viewed their employment as "just a job to supply a pay check." The remaining 28 percent said they would "love to leave this place and take my accounts with me."
There was, of course, a correlation between the optimism and confidence in personal performance and the salesperson's confidence in their owner/CEO and company. Those who lacked confidence in the former showed the least confidence in their personal performance.
There's a message in these survey results for salespeople—and owners. The smart ones have already gotten the message. The rest of you can figure it out for yourselves.
Meanwhile, my message is, as always: "Get out there and sell something!"
About the Author
Harris DeWese is the author of "Now Get Out There and Sell Something!" published by Nonpareil Books. DeWese is a principal at Compass Capital Partners Ltd. DeWese specializes in investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, sales, marketing, planning and management services to printing companies. He is one of the authors of the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of information regarding printing industry merger and acquisition activity.