What makes an ideal print sales person – and the most dangerous skill a sales person can have

Finding the right sales people is hard
This is the message that I am hearing from more and more printing companies. They are struggling to find experienced print sales people. They are finding it even harder to find ones that are any good and come at a reasonable cost.
The trouble lies in the fact that the traditional print sales model no longer works. Many print companies are still after the ultimate goal of finding a sales person with a good book of business. The theory is that the business will follow the sales rep.  Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Buyers are much less likely to follow sales individuals to new companies these days.
This creates a new problem: the sales rep has to go out and find new customers. But many reps have relied on taking orders from their established clients. They often no longer have the skills or confidence to go out and find new business.
Printing companies need a new type of sales person
The order taker has no place in today’s sales environment. If printing companies wish to grow their business they need sales people who are hungry for new business. They need people who are prepared to go out and hunt.
There are three skills that every hunter sales person should possess:

The right communication skills are essential
However, the right people skills have changed. Traditionally, sales people have been told to create relationships by bonding with their clients. But today’s buyers have little time for pleasantries. They are often not allowed to participate in the corporate entertainment that many companies have offered.
Today’s sales person must be able to understand different mindsets. They must be able to adapt their communication strategies to deal with the wide range of ways that different prospects think and communicate. There’s also another skill that will help them build partnerships.
Sales people must have a problem-solving attitude
Good problem solving has nothing to do with print. It has everything to do with helping customers expand their businesses. A good sales person will be able to understand the business problems that customers face. They will be able to work out how their company and their services can help a client solve these problems. They will be a solution seller rather than a print order taker.
They will come up with the best solutions if they also have the third trait.
Digital knowledge is important
We live in a multi-channel world. Print no longer exists in a silo. It has to integrate with other communication channels. Many customers are happier buying communication rather than print. There are opportunities for printing companies to increase business by helping clients with their digital activities as well. However, it requires the right type of sales person. Let’s see why some people will struggle to achieve digital results.
The biggest problem for many print sales people is knowing too much about print
This may seem like a crazy thing to say. To understand why I am making this claim it is necessary to look at things from the customer’s point of view. They don’t know anything about print. They generally don’t care about print. They want someone who can help them overcome their business problems, but they usually do not want to know about the finer details.
Imagine if they are faced with someone who concentrates on technical information. A sales person who focuses on the print world rather than the customer’s world is going to struggle to create a meaningful customer relationship.

So why is it so hard to find the right sales people these days?
Perhaps it is not so hard to find them as we think. Perhaps we are simply looking in the wrong places. There are plenty of people with the right skills. However, they are often rejected because they do not have a print background.
One company did look at new options. They recruited a local news anchor. They found that they had hired their most effective sales person in years…
PS If you’d like practical ideas on how your sales people should engage with today’s buyers, download my free e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them” right now at http://profitableprintrelationships.com/e-book/ You’ll also receive my regular “Views from the print buyer” bulletin, full of ideas on how to sell print effectively.

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  1. Brian Ruiz October 3, 2017 -

    GREAT ARTICLE… I wish more of my print service providers would use strategies just like this in order to increase their revenue. I would have to say that most of the print service providers that I work with do not have any type of sales strategy for their sales people. Not having the right sales strategy is the number one reason why PSPs fail.

    Brian Ruiz
    Xerox Production Color and Inkjet Program Manager

    Production Printing, Software, Technology, and Business Development Consulting

    (714) 310-8684

    Connect With Me, and i can provide you no cost resources to help grow your business:


    Twitter: @TheBrianRuiz

  2. Matthew Parker October 5, 2017 -

    Thank you so much for your kind comments Brian. I’m actually just about to release a book on sales planning!

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