Compensating Salespeople for Digital Jobs: Is This Still a Problem? Yes
Strong Technical Prowess Is Critical
The technical communicator—that bridge between the sales rep and the client purchaser—can make all the difference in the world, Farquharson observes. He or she needs that technical proficiency to walk hand-in-hand with a moderate degree of social graces.
"It's not so much the equipment that's the key, it's technical superiority," Farquharson contends. "The difference maker in a shop is the technical person, their communication skills and ability to handle the files. A printer that is technically superior to his competition is going to win every time."
For some printers, it's a matter of needing to front-burner the topic of digital printing, rather than resigning it to afterthought status, observes Kelly Mallozzi, veteran industry saleswoman, owner of the Success.In.Print consulting agency and also a frequent "Today on PIworld" e-newsletter blogger. Printers are stubborn by nature, she says, and not enough companies have reinforced the advocacy of digital printing.
"I've talked to a number of organizations where they say this is our platform with conventional printing," she says. "Then they say, oh, and we bought this Canon (digital press) but…they're really not advocating for it. Due to the nature of highly transactional, low-dollar volumes of digital printing, the salespeople couldn't be bothered."
Mallozzi wouldn't be surprised to see a paradigm shift to a new sales model, with an emphasis on inside sales. "Organizations need to figure out a way to sell their products and services from an inside perspective," she says. "They need people who can really talk about the value and solve problems. Maybe they're doing it over the phone, or accomplishing it by engaging with people via e-mail. I think the outside sales model is becoming pretty problematic for a lot of places."
There is a case to be made for reps wanting to stay within their comfort zone—which is human nature—and concentrate on big ticket sales as opposed to carving out time to explore digital applications. Dave Gilson, owner of Grand Rapids, MI-based Gilson Graphics, points out that for a sales rep to sell more meaningful work beyond non-variable, short-run commercial work, it takes a digital savvy sales rep who sees the value in offering these services.