If selling production print were easy, every dealer would be doing it.
You might even see more dealers attending conferences devoted to production print.
But you don't.
And you don’t need to be Marvin Gaye to ask, what's going on?
Let's examine some of the reasons why dealers sell production print, why they don't, and finish with tips on how to be successful selling production print.
The most compelling reason to sell production print is because it is one of the two segments of the print industry where print volumes are still growing. Industrial print is the other. 3D printing is another segment that's growing, but the debate still rages as to whether 3D printing is a manufacturing process or a printing process.
Office technology dealers who have relied on traditional office copiers for most of their revenues are seeing page volumes decline. This is causing dealers to compensate for that decline by diversifying their product offerings. One place they're turning is production print, which isn't exactly a huge stretch from the technology they’re already selling. After all, it's still marks on a page. Some of the best prospects for production print are existing customers, commercial printers and in-plants.
Survey Says 19% Increase in Production Print as Greatest Growth and 61% Optimistic About their Success
"In our 33rd Annual Survey in 2018, 45% of dealers identified production print as their greatest growth opportunity compared to 26% in 2017," reported Scott Cullen, editor-in-chief of The Cannata Report, who writes frequently on production print.
When asked to identify how optimistic dealers were about succeeding in production print, The Cannata Report found that 61% of dealers were optimistic about succeeding in production print, 23% pessimistic, and 16% did not respond to the question.
"We're not surprised by these percentages, particularly since production print is not for everyone, and even for those who pursue it, this segment can be challenging and require dedicated resources that not every dealer is willing to invest in," observed Cullen.
Dedicated resources encompass production print specialists, demo models, and the time dedicated to train staff.
But hiring a specialist or specialists, acquiring demo models, and training is only part of the plan.
Four Tips for Production Print Sales Superiority
According to Cullen and one of his sources, the director of production print at a major market office technology dealership, some of the keys to success when selling production print hardware or a solution such as RSA's output management software, QDirect, include:
1. Understanding the customer – Take time to learn about the customer's workflow, the types of print jobs the in-plant is producing, and what types of jobs they can't do that they want to do. The response to the latter could be related to finishing or something as simple as a need to run booklets at a certain speed, or a certain type of booklet, or booklets of a specific size. Those responses can help identify the type of machine and finishing options the customer needs, and the appropriate software.
2. Be prepared to make decisions for the customer – The staff and decision makers in the in-plant usually don't have time to look for information. Because of this, they don't know what they need or why they need a specific solution. Even if they understand some of their issues or work arounds, they might not realize there is a product that can address that issue or work around. It’s up to the sales rep or production print specialist to make those decisions for them. Understanding the equipment currently being used, how the in-plant is processing forms, for example, provides an opportunity to discuss different types of equipment and various software options.
3. Pay attention to the workflow – Anybody can place hardware. Rather than speaking about specific machines during his presentations, the director of production print, tells customers whatever they decide on, he'll make it work for them. It goes back to understanding the type of print jobs being produced and the workflow. By focusing on the print jobs and the workflow, a dealer can offer a solution that fits the hardware. Be forewarned, allowing a customer to choose the hardware or selling a lower-priced piece of equipment to win the deal can result in equipment that doesn’t support some of the software's features (for example, tray calls, drawer pulls, printer status, etc.).
4. An engaging presentation – The emphasis should be on getting people excited about what you're selling. The director of production print likes to have a good time and laugh with his customers. At the end of the presentation he always asks, did we have fun today? Did you learn something? "It is really important to make that connection," he said. "If you do that, you create a need, the sale is a lot easier, and you have embedded yourself in the customer’s business."