Four Times When You Should Ask for Help
A good friend of mine asked me the other day how I managed to wrangle so many of my neighbors into babysitting for me (I have four so far). Aside from the obvious answer that people find it a privilege to watch the two most spectacular children on the planet, my answer was simple...
I ASKED THEM.
Now, I know that as a rule people find it difficult to ask for help. But I am going to give you four situations in which you would be well advised to bite the bullet and get some help for your company.
You really need to reduce your costs. Now, you might be saying, “DUH, Kelly!” We all need to reduce our costs, but I’m serious. If you are having trouble paying all the bills by the end of the month, reach out to your vendors. If you have leased equipment that is anywhere near the end of the lease term, call that vendor and ask them to look at ways to help you lower that payment. Ask your paper vendor to come and talk to you about alternative papers that might be just as good, but cost less. Talk to your ink suppliers about what idea they might have to help you out.
Anybody who is interested in a long-term relationship with you is invested in your success. And the bigger picture here is, the worst that you’ll hear in response is, “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.” Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
You need new a salesperson/salespeople. I am not necessarily going to suggest that you go out and hire the most expensive headhunter there is (although headhunters do tend to save time by doing a lot of the qualifying for you), but if you have not been able to find a quality salesperson and you really need one, it’s time to change things up.
You can use LinkedIn to post your job to the more than 50 print-related sites out there. You can use Facebook and Twitter. You can network any way you can. You can go to the mall, and if you find a particularly talented salesperson at Macy’s, offer to take him/her for coffee to see if s/he could make the transition to outside sales. (That’s where I came from...well, not Macy’s but retail.) But if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.
Your salespeople are underperforming. Many great owners of great printing companies will admit that they are not the best managers of salespeople. They lack coaching skills. Encouragement is not their strong suit. When they talk to their salespeople, all they can think of to say is, “Go SELL something!!”
There is a vast amount of resources out there to help your salespeople succeed. Why, this very writer offers a Webinar series on improving sales skills and hot markets (apology for the self serving comment). But seriously, no matter what your budget is, you can find a way to help your salespeople become better at what they do. Look around. Not only will the investment benefit you, but it will tell your salespeople that you care about their performance and are willing to do what it takes to make them better.
You are considering transitioning to new technology or getting into a new market. This is an instance where I would lean very heavily on an outside vendor (maybe more than one), or I would even consider talking with a consultant who can be more neutral.
Whether you want to get into digital, large-format or variable data printing, any vendor worth its salt should be able to come and talk with you, help you think through your plan—what you want to accomplish, what resources you have—and make recommendations. If they cannot or will not, or you don’t trust what they are telling you, keep looking. Or ask a friendly competitor. Or get online and do the old networking thing. Or come ask me.
To sum it up, asking for help might be hard. But it’s worth it. Give it a try.
Like I said, the worst thing you can hear is, ”No.” It’s not so bad.
Blogger, author, consultant, coach and all around evangelist for the graphic arts industry, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include sales and marketing coaching, enabling clients to find engagement strategies that work for them and mentoring the next generation of sales superstars.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league. She is also the mother of two sets of twins under the age of ten, so she fears nothing.