7 Lessons for Printing Solutions Resellers from 7 Months of the Pandemic
It’s been a challenging seven months. For any organization tasked with selling a product, whether it is printing hardware or a software solution such as WebCRD or QDirect from RSA, sales activity has been down. In some segments of the printing market, resellers are reporting that business is down 30%-40% from the previous year.
But even in a pandemic there are lessons to be learned. After all, this may not be the last event that causes business disruption and the lessons learned now could better prepare you for a future crisis.
Here are seven lessons printing hardware and software solutions resellers have learned during the past seven months.
- You need to be agile. When disaster strikes, or in this instance a pandemic, your company and your team must be nimble, adapting and reacting, as necessary. New ways of conducting business, new ways of connecting with customers, and new sales and marketing strategies should be embraced at all levels of your organization.
- Create a continuity plan. If you did not have a continuity plan before the pandemic, the events of the past six months have shown the importance of being prepared. Now that you have experience navigating through one of the worst things that can happen to your organization and your customers’ organizations, create a plan by taking into consideration what worked during this time and what didn’t. RSA has assisted customers with back up, limited staff and recovery plans for their print shops before and during the pandemic. Reach out to your local RSA sales contact to work with you and your customers to develop plans like these.
- Learn all you can about technologies that enable you to connect with employees and customers remotely and continue to use them after the pandemic subsides. The adoption of cloud-based communications, collaboration, and productivity tools accelerated during the first six months of the pandemic. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Go to Webinar, and other platforms have become essential tools. Continue to hone your employees’ skills so that they are not intimidated by the technology but embrace it because these tools aren’t going away when the pandemic does. Our team has been using online platforms for customer demos for years; we offer you demo and sales support honed from years of experience.
- Doing nothing is not an option. Cutting off communications with customers just because purchasing decisions are not a priority for them during this time won’t do much to enhance your image as a trusted advisor. Sales is all about nurturing relationships, so check in periodically even if only to ask how your customer, their employees, and their families are doing. Businesses hurting financially don’t want a sales pitch, but they should appreciate an empathetic call or email asking how they are doing and if you can do anything for them.
- Encourage your customers to take advantage of virtual training and education. Continuing product education and training is time well spent when business has slowed down. Reach out to your vendors to find out what training options are available and share them with your customers. For example, RSA offers unlimited free product training. Encourage customers to include furloughed employees who may be looking for an activity to fill their day. Virtual training and education can help your customers engage with furloughed employees and boost their morale. This is a good time to train your staff too. Software vendors such as RSA offer a wealth of online educational resources, including videos, webinars, white papers, and more. Visit our resources page for resources and ask your local RSA sales contact for details and access to our RSA University production sales course catalog. Use the down time to continue education so when your sales staff is ready to sell again, they have more knowledge than before.
- Don’t curb your social media initiatives. Use whatever your personal and dealer social media platforms are- Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube or a blog. Your message does not need to be focused on marketing and promotions. Instead share product tips and tricks as well as feel good stories about what your employees and your customers are doing to stay healthy and focused during the pandemic.
- Never stop communicating. This means remaining in touch with customers whose businesses are closed or operating at reduced hours and it means communicating with your own employees, including those you may have furloughed. One of the quickest ways to lose a customer is a failure to communicate. The same is true with your employees. Hiring and retention is a challenge for every employer and the last thing you want when things get back to normal is for valuable employees to leave because your silence during the pandemic was deafening.
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