Sales Efficiency Is a Must —Sherburne
AT LAST month’s Graph Expo in Chicago, thousands of printers walked the show floor to learn what was new in technology and how it could impact their businesses moving forward. If you didn’t attend, hopefully you will read the post-show coverage in this issue.
Graph Expo attendees heard about the “Must See ’Ems” awards, which identify innovative products in various categories that are worth looking at. These are judged by a 16-member panel of experts who also identify key commercial printing survival technologies—the most critical and fundamental technologies a commercial printer must have to survive profitably. Not too surprisingly, MIS was identified as the top survival technology the last two years in a row.
Why? Because these systems provide real-time, relevant and accurate data that allow you to make critical, fact-based business decisions. They also improve efficiency by eliminating rekeying, reducing errors and automating certain functions.
In fact, as I spoke with industry executives in the run-up to Graph Expo—asking them what people should be focusing on at the show—without exception, they all indicated that attendees should be focusing on products, services and technologies that will improve the efficiency of their operations. Normally, when we think about improving efficiency, we focus on production, and sometimes we include the order entry, quoting and estimating and other pre- and post-production functions. But we rarely consider the sales function.
Sales Side Effects
How efficient is your sales force? Without an efficient sales force, I would argue that your marketing efforts will not be efficient, either.
I recently ran into Ron Kendig at an industry event. Many of you may remember him from his long tenure with Heidelberg, and then at Xerox. Since leaving Xerox earlier this year, Kendig has been engaged in a business, which, at first blush, doesn’t seem like it has much relevance to printing businesses, or marketing, or selling printing, because it has historically focused on the sale of hardware and software. But I was intrigued with what he was doing and, after thinking about it, it raises issues many of you may want to consider as you reflect on how you market and sell your business. And, most especially, how you improve the efficiency of your sales efforts.
The name of Kendig’s company is WinningStance Corp., and he operates it in partnership with a childhood friend who is managing partner of 2Win!Global (www.2winglobal.com). He provides Intellectual Property (IP) around how to more effectively demonstrate your product and uses psychological techniques to help customers differentiate themselves from their competitors when doing a demonstration. The objective is to make you “memorable.”
Now, you may ask yourself, as I did, what this has to do with selling printing. And my answer would be a great deal. If you are effectively selling printing, have migrated your sales efforts away from the print buyer, and are now calling on document owners and creators such as the marketing department, you are selling them a product or a program. When you bring relevant samples to them or take them on a shop tour, you are conducting a product demonstration.
Let’s face it—these document owners, despite what you may think, are not buying printing. They really could care less (in most cases) what type of press you have, how many lines or dots per inch it prints, whether it is ink- or toner-based, or how many sheets per hour you can crank through it.
What are they buying? They are buying brand awareness. They are buying business results. They are buying tools to attract buyers for their products and services, or to drive attendance at shows or events, or even to drive eyeballs to their Websites—to use a very ’90s term! So the conventional method of walking in cold to an account with an equipment list and a sample book simply is not effective with these folks. In fact, you may not even be able to gain an appointment using the traditional approach.
But if you take an approach such as the one Kendig is teaching, you will have a totally different response to your sales efforts. The key teaching he puts forward is that a demonstration, whether it is a plant tour or showing off your pitch book, is not about your product. In reality, it is about your customer’s business process and how your product or service relates—how it can solve business problems for them.
Ask just about any of these new buyers of print how a printer can get their ear. They will tell you that they will talk to someone who demonstrates that he or she understands the industry, the business and the business issues the prospect is facing. Not only that, but the successful salesperson will have a solution in mind based on the research that he or she has done—before picking up the phone the first time or dropping the first postcard or letter in the mail.
Now, that’s not to say that you need to have all the answers. In fact, that would be an impossible requirement. But you do have to at least know what questions to ask!
One great example that comes to mind is an Israeli company, Oniya Shapira. It is one of the largest color digital printing sites in the world, with six HP Indigo digital color presses. The company had been printing statements for Cal (Israel Credit Cards Ltd.), an issuer of major brand credit cards, including VISA, Diners Club and MasterCard, along with retail credit cards and loyalty cards, using offset-printed shells with black-and-white digital overprinting. As it began to get into color digital printing, Oniya Shapira brought to Cal the innovative concept of adding promotional messaging to the statements using color and graphics.
Do Your Sales Homework
Ravit Spiegal, vice president of marketing, says, “In preparation for our sales efforts, we visited their Website, looked at all of their advertising and came up with a number of ideas that we pitched in a meeting with marketing. It is important to do this type of homework, so that you can help your customers understand the offered platform.”
Because of the increased cost per piece associated with color statements, Oniya Shapira recommended that Cal implement these statements for its VIP customers only. Much to their surprise, Cal decided to implement these innovative statements for all of its clients. And, to Oniya Shapira, this means a recurring print volume of 8 million impressions per month!
Spiegal stresses that it was not a short sales cycle. The company worked with Cal for almost a year selling the concept, then Cal issued an RFP. The good news for Oniya Shapira was that it had a leg up on the response, since it helped shape the RFP. Implementation of this type of application takes time and effort, as well. But Oniya Shapira is now 8 million color impressions per month richer, is likely to be able to expand to other business within Cal, and can also take this offering to other customers.
None of it would have been possible with a conventional sales approach. Spiegal says, “If you want to sell new ideas to companies like Cal, you need to spend time with the marketing department. Purchasing and IT are not likely to be champions for this type of change.”
Leverage what you have learned either by attending Graph Expo (next year, if you missed this show) or reading articles about it. Incorporate that information and knowledge into your business to achieve more operational efficiency.
But when you are doing so, again, it’s important not to forget the sales force. Look into training such as that offered by WinningStance or others that can reinvigorate your sales force by giving them a new approach and something new to talk about. You will never look back! PI
About the Author
Cary Sherburne is a well-known journalist, author and strategic marketing consultant working primarily with the printing and publishing industry. She is a frequent speaker at industry events, a regular contributor to industry publications and has written three books, which are available for purchase through the Bookstore section on Printing Impressions’ Website (www.piworld.com). Sherburne can be reached at Cary@SherburneAssociates.com.