Compensating Salespeople for Digital Jobs: Is This Still a Problem? Yes
While there was excitement buzzing throughout Hudson Printing, the enthusiasm was not as warmly felt by the incumbent sales staff. Gardner was somewhat taken aback by their lack of engagement…which is putting it mildly. He'd encountered the same philosophical atmosphere with a previous printing employer. Indeed, it falls upon the printer to express, in no uncertain terms, the expectations attached to any major shifts in product and service offerings.
The digital emphasis has been communicated to the sales staff at Hudson Printing. "We told them, you have three choices," Gardner says. "One, you can help us get to that new place in the role you're in. Two, you can help us get to that place in another role with the company, or three, you can help us get to that new place by getting the hell out of the way."
Here, too, the sales staff wasn't the only faction of a printing establishment that needed to get attuned to the new direction of the company. Even bindery personnel would inquire as to the rationale behind chasing smaller volume, lower dollar jobs.
"The message at Hudson Printing is that most long-run, static printing is going away," Gardner relates. "It will never disappear completely. We have four heatset web presses, but if we're still running all four of those machines five years from now, I will be stunned."
Hudson Printing has three new sales reps on its team of 11, and they've all grasped the digital mantra. Gardner points out that although one incumbent salesperson has been selling digital work at an unprecedented clip, the balance of the group is either flat or down from the previous year.
The printer itself is guilty of its own execution gaffes. Last September, the company announced a new compensation plan that was slated to be rolled out at the first of the year. Unfortunately, Hudson Printing's new plan didn't debut until April 1, which left the sales reps in the dark, wondering how they would be compensated. "We instilled fear, and that was a mistake on our part," he admits.