You have faced market downturns in the past, but the upheaval that most print companies are facing today is unprecedented. The mix of your client portfolio has greatly affected the degree to which you need to rebuild your customer base. If this crisis has thrown you a curveball and you find yourself with a sudden need to find new business, you have two sources to reach out to. You have an existing customer base whose activity levels can range from hardly affected to devastated. And then of course, there’s net new business.
Your existing customers value the relationship you have with them. Now more than ever, they depend on your ability to bring new ideas to the table as they work to reengage with their customers. This is also a good time to review the mix of products and services they currently buy from you, and identify the gaps. What do you need to do to get a bigger share of their print spend? Do you need to call on other departments? Do you need to do a deeper dive in understanding who their clients are? The more you know about who their target markets are the better. Are they trying to enhance their brand or is the focus on customer acquisition? Remember, if you don’t get it, you don’t get it.
This goes the same for a new business. What’s your story, what tools do you have in your toolbox, who are your target prospects, and why should they listen to you? If you can’t answer these questions, don’t pick up the phone or hit send on that email. To make your efforts more effective, you need to build a process. It should be scalable and repeatable. You can use a CRM, a spreadsheet, or a yellow pad. Whichever you decide on, commit to doing it all the time — every week. This isn’t something you do only when you get slow.
There are all kinds of sales plans and processes out there for your sales team to follow. They all can work, depending upon your unique situations and market conditions. Pick one. Pick one and put all your efforts behind it and make it work for you. Beware of complacency. This is a case where you don’t want to make perfect be the enemy of good.
The world we live in today will require a new approach to developing business. You’ll need to have a plan and process for a world that is, not one that once was.
As you reimagine your salesforce for the future, what role should they each play? Will they be the traditional field sales, relationship builder, and do it all sales rep? Maybe you’ll divide your team into hunters and account managers. You might also add an inside sales position. A key factor to consider as you’re rearranging the chairs, is not so much how you want to sell, as opposed to how your customers want to buy. Yes, you should learn how your future customers want to buy from you. The buying preferences that you discover may influence how you re-imagine your sales team.
One factor to consider is that most sales reps hunt until their bellies are full. Then for many reasons, they revert to the account management role. That may be due to the way they are compensated, that may be due to the expectations placed upon them, or it may be because that’s the way it’s always been. Remember, you get what you tolerate.
Have a clear picture of where you want to go, and engage your team to make it happen. If you have any comments or thoughts as to how you’ve approached these issues, please send me a note or include them below.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog originally published in Printing Impressions.