Digital Sales Compensation: Neither Fish Nor Fowl
DeWese isn't alone in the belief that cultivating your own digital sales professionals is the preferred route. Kate Dunn, president of Digital Innovations Group—a sales and marketing strategy firm in Richmond, VA—contends that printing companies tend not to hire the best sales reps.
Most of the people who sell in this industry aren't that capable, she believes. "So, not only are you trying to teach them to sell a more complex product with cross-channel communication or a Web-to-print solution, but you must teach them how to sell."
The fault lies with the printing companies themselves though, Dunn says, which have the wrong objectives. She sees printers taking the short cut when it comes to interviewing potential sales hires, and they tend to be buffaloed by a guaranteed book of business—which may have been sold on price at a point that would be profitless to the new employer.
Grow Your Own or Import
Dunn suggests asking interview questions of the potential sales hire to uncover commitment to preparation, which is a critical success factor for professionals selling complex solutions.
"Today's world is more about business acumen than print," she says. "That's another reason why it's so hard for traditional print salespeople to make the transition. They have spent their professional lives focused on understanding and talking about print, not business objectives and challenges. They are intimidated when talking to customers about improving response rates or minimizing steps in their supply chain."
Whether you import or grow your own digital printing salesperson, perhaps the most essential objective is to clearly define the role of the position as it applies to sheetfed, web or digital sales. Nick Devine, a U.K.-based printing consultant known as The Print Coach, believes most printers lack clarity when it comes to establishing the parameters of sales positions. Once the role has been effectively designed, he says, the company needs to define its ideal customer base and establish a value proposition for that client that is not incumbent upon being the low-cost provider.