Four Steps to Succeed In Production Print Sales
There is no shortage of opportunity in the production print marketplace. Adding or expanding production print hardware, software, and services is a great way to diversify your existing portfolio with another strong revenue stream. Production print can help your business take on new customers and expand in existing accounts — not to mention help you grab a couple from the competition.
While entering or expanding your presence in the production print space requires an investment of time, energy and resources it shouldn't dissuade the curious. Expanding your portfolio to include production print hardware, software and services is a smart business move. But don't go in unprepared. Explore production print first to see if it's a good match for your business model. If you do decide production print may be the right fit, here are some tips that will help your business succeed in the production print venture.
- Be an educator and a guide, not a salesman.
Sales reps have to follow a different blueprint if they want to succeed in the production print arena. Office customers are motivated by cutting costs and shortening business processes and are cost-driven. In-plant print centers are interested in the same things, as well as eliminating touchpoints to streamline processes and to keep costs low. However, in-plants are also value-driven. As a result, selling production hardware, software and services is a completely different animal that requires a consultative approach. Rather than playing a pricing game to woo office customers, sales reps have to show how production print adds value to the in-plant's parent company or organization. The conversation changes from "my machine costs 5 percent less than the competitor's" to "this machine along with that automation software will allow your company to bring production printing processes in-house for less than you pay to outsource it."
But dealers don't have to go it on their own. They can always lean on technology providers to lend a helping hand. For example, Rochester Software Associations (RSA) provides office equipment dealers, vendors and customers with access to professional services like consulting, solutions design, workflow analysis, custom development, project management, training and more.
- Be a student.
If sales reps want to be educators and consultants that can add value to their clients' businesses, then they're going to have to be equal parts expert and salesperson. That means sales reps need to know the ins and outs of their customers' business processes, as well as how production print technology works, so they can explain how it can add value to the customer's business.
- Be an automation evangelist.
When it comes to solving customer problems and adding value to their organization, the answer is almost always automation. Without workflow software solutions, most businesses wouldn't be able to justify the cost of handling their production printing needs in-house. Automating processes enables them to use labor more efficiently, reduce costs, accelerate processes and eliminate mistakes — ultimately keeping costs low and improving customer satisfaction.
As an office equipment dealer or vendor sales rep, workflow software solutions are also great for your bottom line. They come in handy for getting your foot in the door at new accounts, or for expanding in existing ones. For example, a sales rep can focus on a small problem like getting print-ready jobs into the shop that a software solution can solve. Once the customer is satisfied, they'll be more inclined to see what other problems you can solve in the future. And since customers typically spend three dollars on workflow solutions for every dollar they spend on production print hardware, selling customers on automation can vastly improve your bottom line.
- Identify and interact with buyers and influencers online and in person.
Human beings are more connected now than ever before. Thanks to social media, sales reps can reach hundreds of potential clients without leaving their desk. But social media isn't just a digital megaphone that gets your message out — it's also a great way to engage in conversations and share ideas with potential and existing clients. Social media can be a vital tool that plays a role in how sales reps can develop and maintain relationships, as well to stay current with the ever-changing production print industry.
But nothing beats meeting folks face to face. Dealers that want to expand or move into the production print arena should be regulars at in-plant and production print events, conferences and trade shows where they can learn about major players and different trends in the marketplace, plus mix it up with potential and existing clients.
The hyper-commoditization of office printing plus the extremely competitive marketplace is making a venture into production print more attractive than ever. It provides dealers with a new revenue stream and enables them to expand their business. And the venture can be a very successful one as long as sales reps can become experts in production print technology and the customers it serves, adjust from a transactional selling approach to a consultative one, and cultivate the right relationships.