Printing Industry Sales Success Best Practices: Key Business and Hiring Challenges, Top Mistakes Made by Print Sales Reps
As printing companies have evolved from selling high-volume print work to offering short-run, personalized, on-demand print jobs supported with a diverse portfolio of value-added services, selling practices in many organizations have not kept pace. The rules of sales success have changed, and many organizations are redefining what it takes to deliver sales results in a new competitive environment. Today’s multi-channel, data-driven and programmatic marketing campaigns require print sales reps to possess new skill sets, such as consultative selling ability.
To identify the new formula for sales success, NAPCO Research surveyed Printing Impressions’ readers in September 2018 to identify key sales challenges that companies face and the best strategies and tactics for improving sales results. More than 200 print providers responded to the “Defining Sales Success Factors in Today’s Print Shop” survey. This article highlights some high-level research findings of a more comprehensive, 24-page research report. The study was sponsored by SGIA.
Key Challenge Is Hiring Printing Salespeople
A critical finding is respondents reported that key business challenges influencing their organization were related to sales. When asked to rank the level of challenge presented by various industry trends, respondents considered hiring sales reps capable of selling in today’s environment as a top challenge. Figure 1 below shows how respondents classified the level of challenge for factors that influenced selling.
One key takeaway from this question is that printing companies’ businesses are challenged in finding and hiring sales reps capable of selling in today’s price-competitive environment where customers expect products and services that go beyond print. Transitioning salespeople to sell on value, not just on price, continues to be an ongoing challenge.
Addressing the Hiring Challenge
Respondents revealed the importance of various hiring criteria and how it affects selection for new sales representatives. To offer insight into addressing the issue, respondents revealed the most effective solutions for finding and hiring new sales reps, which can be found by clicking here for the full free report.
Key Mistakes Made by Print Sales Reps
The survey also revealed the top three mistakes respondents have observed from their existing salespeople and offered solutions for how they can be corrected with sales training and coaching. For more information on the top mistakes being made by print salespeople and solutions to correct them, download the full research report.
Sales Force Management Structures
In many printing companies, sales reps report directly to the owner, of which 46% of the respondents indicated that was the case in their organizations. This management structure may work in smaller companies but, in larger organizations, having a dedicated sales manager to direct the sales team may be the best route versus an owner charged with multiple management tasks.
According to the survey, 34% of total respondents reported a sales manager was primarily responsible for managing the sales force. Of those respondents whose companies are experiencing double-digit sales growth, 40% indicated that a sales manager led the sales team.
While many print providers are masters at measuring their operational efficiency, the same cannot be said for their sales processes. Continually tracking and measuring sales activities are key to achieving sales objectives and goals. This requires having a comprehensive understanding of what is occurring at various points in the sales pipeline.
Common metrics that are measured typically include: customer retention and recurring revenue; number of opportunities in the pipeline; win rates; deal sizes; and sales cycle for closing new business.
One way to measure and monitor performance against these targets is through a customer relationship management (CRM) system. The survey found that a little more than one-third (37%) reported having a CRM system in place, while over half (63%) did not.
An overall key finding of the research is that the selling environment has changed, and print services providers must evolve their sales strategies, practices and processes. The key focus of the study was to identify what actions print providers are taking to improve sales processes and drive sales growth.
The full report offers a deeper dive on the critical tactics and strategies yielding greatest sales success in today’s highly competitive printing market.
About the Author
Lisa Cross serves as a principal analyst for NAPCO Research.
Lisa Cross is the principal analyst of NAPCO Research (a unit of NAPCO Media) where she conducts market research and analysis on emerging trends and changing dynamics in the commercial, in-plant and packaging industries, and the market forces that are driving those changes. With decades of experience covering the graphic arts and marketing industries, Cross has authored thousands of articles on a variety of topics, including technology trends, business strategy, sales, marketing and legislation.