Written by Dharminder Biharie, Business Development Manager
Xerox Graphic Communications, The Netherlands

sales process meetingThere’s a good chance that prior to the economy taking a major hit in 2007 and 2008, you didn’t have to spend too much time pulling hairs over your sales process and strategy. Business was running well, sales were high, and your printing presses were running non-stop. And your sales rep – why would you have possibly worried about him? He was achieving the organization’s goals, customers loved him (he was always on the phone with them!), and he was a likable guy who had worked at your company for many years.

But now you have customers who don’t love him. He is not connecting with customers and prospects on his phone, e-mail, or social media. His cubicle was always vacant from being onsite with customers, but now he is always in the office. The fact is that most sales processes have changed over the last 5 years. The graphic arts industry has become a high tech business, where automating business processes to reduce costs is a key to survival. If your commercial department hasn’t grown to meet outside changes, you are probably facing challenges with sales and proposition.

Here is a list of 10 challenges in the sales process:

  1. If you can’t explain the added value of digital or litho print, you will end up with customers basing their purchases solely on price comparison. Always sell using return on marketing investment (ROMI). Even business cards deliver ROMI.
  2. You don’t understand the environment of your customers. Are they specialized in specific markets with specific requirements? Are there trends that you can use to offer recommendations and solutions?
  3. Your proposition doesn’t match your online profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) or your website is old and out-of-date. Keep online information updated and use free metrics software such as Google Analytics to see how you’re doing online.
  4. You don’t actually know what problems to solve. When you are offering digital print, always ask if you are solving a logistic or a marketing problem for your customer. Otherwise you will run into the same price comparison problem mentioned above.
  5. You are not familiar with the changed landscape of communication. Today we have more channels to communicate with. Be prepared so you can use them to your advantage. Integration is key.
  6. You do not have a system in place to calculate and discuss return on marketing investments (ROMI).
  7. Maybe you have calculated ROMI, but you still present it as a proposal. Communication plans should always be presented as projects, not proposals. Help your client visualize the experience.
  8. You have a top-10 list of your customers in order of % revenue in your account plan but you haven’t asked your customers who comprise their top-10 in % revenue. Also ask what kind of headaches they have in communication, marketing, sales and adding/selling value. This will help you help them.
  9. Are you a sales (500 doors to cover), account manager (100 doors to cover), key account manager (5 doors to cover) or trusted advisor (customers come to you)? Knowing your role can improve the quality of engagement with your customers.
  10. You don’t know what customers think about you and your company. If this is true, you almost certainly don’t know what your customer’s end-users think of them. Knowing this information can help you to improve your customer’s business, and as a result improve your business as well.

Don’t start to panic as you read all of this. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and improvement is a constantly evolving process. Try to improve your quality of sale by starting with a goal to focus on 3 of these 10 points. I am convinced that this will help you improve your relationships and interactions with customers, and in turn, impact your business.

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