The Philie Group Blog

Summer is Over, It’s Back to Work Time
By Mike Philie

As the summer of 2022 winds down, it’s a good time to review what you’ve accomplished so far this year. What grade would you give yourself? If you are like many business leaders, you started off the year with great ideas about what you wanted to accomplish. You thought hard about your goals and objectives, and even had them written down. So here we are, how’d you do?

Let’s start off with the areas that you feel good about. As you list out your successes, are there any common denominators that you can observe? What areas of the business were you more successful in, and what can you learn from those wins? Try to take what you’ve learned and apply it to the areas that may seem more elusive to conquer.

When you look into the areas that you’re not satisfied with, what were the issues that kept you from reaching your targets? Where are the gaps? The three most common issues I hear include a changing sales environment, supply chain challenges, and managing the business in a disruptive environment.

While there is no silver bullet or magic pill to take, having a scalable, repeatable selling process seems to help many in the industry. All will agree that strong referrals lead to new clients in short order and most experienced reps depend on them to generate new business. However, most reps or companies don’t have a systematic way to generate referrals on a regular basis. What happens when there aren’t any referrals? If you and your sales team are open to new ideas, Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler share their thoughts on building a sales process in their book, Predictable Revenue. It’s their story of how Ross applied his thinking to help build sales at Salesforce.com. It’s a great read with many takeaways that can easily be transferred to the printing industry and can help introduce some new ideas to the sales effort.

There’s no doubt that companies are facing challenging client issues. They work at keeping customers satisfied while trying to secure paper, extending lead times, and passing along price increases. This affects the clients who have been with them for years and as well as those who are relatively new.

In your best situations, your company and the rep has risen to the status of trusted advisor. The clients not only like you, but trust you to keep their best interests in mind. If fact, many clients call you even when it’s not a project that your company can help them with, just to get your advice. Now, it takes two to tango. You must be able to earn that status and the client must want to be helped! This becomes a time to seriously look at those customers that you cannot develop that same level of rapport with. If you feel that you’ve done all you can do, it may be time to move on and focus on those that you can help. Free up your internal resources for your best, loyal customers. The sooner that you address this, the sooner your profits can improve.

Managing a business in this industry has never been more challenging than it is today. The staffing issues and departmental silos, the technology choices and the ever elusive clients all seem to keep executives laser-focused. The challenges continue with inflation, shifting consumer behaviors, and the economy. They are tested daily on their ability to keep their staff energized, execute flawlessly, and make the right clients happy. Do that well and most say the profits will come. Actually, after listing all these challenges business leaders have, it seems like business as usual for printing company executives – they are used to leading through turmoil.

What frequently happens though, is that the leaders’ most compelling conversations about the business usually take place in front of the bathroom mirror each morning. Make sure that you have the right team in place to support your objectives. Assembling the right talent for your business is a struggle and just because someone helped you get to where you are, they may not be the right person to help you get to where you want to go. They may need additional training or they may need to visit other companies to learn new best practices, or they may need to be in a different role.

The key point here is if you’ve got a clear picture of where you want to go, don’t settle for the same excuses you’ve heard as to why you can’t do something or that’s not the way we do it here. Don’t settle. Having the right team in place will also give you your best chance to focus your time on working on the business instead of spending your day solving everyone’s problems.

So in a couple of days when the long weekend is over and you ask yourself if you’re having fun yet, what will your answer be? If it’s not what you’d like it to be maybe it’s time to take a hard look at your team, your processes, and the structure of how you run the business.

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 assessments, 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.comLinkedIn or email at mphilie@philiegroup.com.

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