Enroll in Mañana University —DeWese
THIS IS your chance to sign on for a piece of history. Yep, grab your pens, get in line and sign right here.
This is not going to cost you a nickel. Nope, not one red cent.
You will be required to commit to working hard to improve your selling skills.
You will be asked to complete all of the assignments.
You will be signing up for the first-ever university of printing sales, with its campus located in a magazine. It's called Mañana University.
You will be studying for a PhD. That's right, a doctorate. We will be skipping right over those picayune undergraduate and master's degrees. Yesiree! You are going straight for your doctorate.
Why am I founding this historic university? There are many reasons.
Our industry is shrinking. Many companies have gone away and many more will disappear. If your company fails to grow, it will become a casualty. This shrinking is a result of intense competition. That competition is occurring between many salespeople who are seeking the same customers. The most qualified, talented, competent, hard-working salespeople will be the ones who get the business.
There is no sales role more demanding than selling graphic communications. Many years ago, I identified 24 competencies required of successful print sales professionals. Mañana University will provide education in all 24 competencies and, probably, some more that I overlooked.
Lately, I have noticed some seminars being offered that are designed to train "hybrid salespeople" or the "salesperson of the future." Many of these seminars are one to two hours long, and are aimed at owners and CEOs attending conferences in exotic resort locations. You can make book that the big shots won't return to their plants to teach their sales staffs what they learned at the Ritz Carlton in San Luca de Pleasure. Most owners and CEOs sit in their offices and rarely see customers. You can't teach much of anything in one to two hours. The future may be here, but I'm not sure we have mastered the selling skills necessary for the present.
Consider the Source
The CEOs attending these conferences are also "taught" how to identify, recruit and hire hybrid salespeople. At best, these super salespeople represent about five percent of all available print communications sales professionals. Then, if the CEO is smart enough to identify a winner, she/he must find a way to extricate the salesperson from his or her present employer. These five-percenters are golden handcuffed to their companies. It takes a stick of dynamite and lot of cash to attract them.
My colleague, Dick Gorelick, complains about supposed sales trainers who do nothing more than admonish their students to "sit up straight" and "avoid chewing gum" on sales calls. Gorelick is right. We have some charlatans who appear suddenly with great fanfare, conduct a few workshops, collect their fees, sell their books and tapes, and then disappear. Many of these gurus never actually made a sales call and certainly never sold any printing. But, they have great (strategically modified) resumés. Beware of flashy sales trainers who look great in their suits and speak with a mellifluous baritone.
Several printing industry sales trainers have come and gone. Including me. Back in the 1980s, I was often hired to train print salespeople at seminars and also one-on-one during team sales calls. I made hundreds of team sales calls on print buyers from New York to Los Angeles. Markets ranged from general commercial to books, to packaging, to direct mail and to labels.
The seminars were the hardest, though, because they required so much preparation. I trained groups ranging from six participants to several hundred. It was hard work, and I always worried that I was not good enough. So, I quit doing it to concentrate on investment banking.
You can't expect a salesperson to change just from attending a two-hour workshop or a two-day seminar. Sales development must be an ongoing effort. That's the beauty of Mañana University. Each month, right here in the pages of Printing Impressions, you'll find new lessons and assignments aimed at educating you, changing your sales behavior and, thanks to your Mañana Man, entertaining you.
Furthermore, I have lined up a stellar faculty of "professors" who will assist me with your PhD. Your education will continue in these pages until my colleagues and I run out of material. And, the good news: graduation. I am planning a graduation ceremony—where I pass out sheepskins—right in the heart of the French Quarter at Harrah's Hotel and Casino in New Orleans. Now, that's something worth shooting for.
The format and ongoing nature of Mañana University will enable teaching the behavioral principles of selling, the technical aspects of selling, and how to comprehensively sell the entire range of your company's products and services. Imagine? Great sales training. The top teachers in the industry. Monthly. You will flourish. You will grow. People will stop laughing at you. You will bring your sleazy competitors to their knees. Your company will survive and flourish.
OK. Here's how to get started. Take this column to your boss, and tell him/her that you are fully committed. Get a copy of Linda Bishop's book, "Selling in Tough Times," and read it. I'm not going to tell you where to find the book. I expect you to develop resourcefulness and find it yourselves.
Next, write a two-page paper on the benefits of buying from your company. Write a one-page paper describing all of the products and services available at your shop. Write a one- to two-page paper on the areas where you need the greatest improvement. Make a list of your top 20 prospects and rank them in order. Concentrate on making twice as many sales calls between now and the April edition of PI.
If you have any questions, send me an e-mail or give me a call.
Oh, man, what have I done? This Mañana University offer is going to be a lot of work. What was I thinking? I need a nap.
While I snooze, get to work on your writing assignments, make twice as many sales calls, and get out there and sell something. PI
About the Author
Harris DeWese is the author of "Now Get Out There and Sell Something" and "The Mañana Man, Books II and III," available at www.piworld.com/bookstore. He is chairman of Compass Capital Partners and also authors the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of information regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed 150 printing company transactions and is viewed as the industry's preeminent deal maker. He can be reached via e-mail at HDeWese@CompassCapLtd.com.