It's been a difficult four months for anyone selling printing hardware and software.
The pressing question is what's next for resellers of production print hardware and workflow and web-to-print solutions?
The answer shouldn't be a surprise. Nobody knows. Nobody!
The past four months may offer an indication of the type of print jobs that in-plants and commercial printers will be concentrating on even as the pandemic subsides. Indoor and outdoor signage has been in demand during the pandemic and will continue to be so as reopening accelerates. Educational packets for K-12 is another viable opportunity as not all of it will be distributed electronically because not all students have a printer or even a computer at home. Meanwhile, variable data printing (VDP) should see an uptick with more targeted notices mailed, as well as voting ballots, which will emerge as a leading application, particularly in an election year.
Seven Strategies to Consider for New and Existing Customers
Despite the opportunities and uncertainties, let's examine seven strategies that a production print hardware and software reseller should consider in order to serve existing customers and approach new prospects.
- Stay in touch – Throughout the pandemic hopefully you've continued to reach out to customers and let them know you are available even if they aren't in a buying mood or their workloads have fallen considerably. You are not alone. They are not alone. Just make sure that you continue to engage with your customers and learn what those customers will want from you when they reopen.
- Listen and learn – Find out what is changing with your customers and what isn't and how that will impact them and you after they reopen. Do they plan on bringing everyone back or will they be operating with reduced staff? How will orders be submitted to the shop, how will work be produced and by whom, and how will it be delivered are other considerations. Web submission/Web to print ordering has been a lifesaver for many shops. Read and share these three solutions RSA has seen for resolving COVID-19 work from home, staff cross training and delivery challenges that may be the new norm.
- Share best practices for reopening – This doesn't mean stepping on the toes of HR departments and management tasked with developing and implementing reopening and social distancing procedures into place. Sharing anecdotes about what other in-plants, commercial printers, and businesses you sell to are doing, as well as your own organization might raise awareness about issues they hadn't considered.
- Stress your value proposition – There may not be a gold rush environment of customers clamoring to upgrade their operations or acquire new software and technology, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't stress the value proposition your solutions offer even if a customer is not ready to purchase today. As businesses reopen and employees return to work and volumes grow, they might discover that they need to look at new hardware and software options that can provide greater efficiencies and save money in the long term. Sell the one-time investment that solves a problem. Explain how making a software investment will allow them to better monitor the work going in and out of the print shop, especially in a time where costs will be closely scrutinized.
- Host a webinar – For customers who were on the fence about acquiring a workflow or Web to Print solution prior to the pandemic, offer online demos or a webinar to refresh them on how workflow and web-to-print solutions can enhance their operations. The advantage you have always had as a technology and software provider is that you sell solutions that enhance their print operation.
- Can you meet the needs of a hybrid workforce? – When businesses reopen, more people will be working from home if not permanently, more regularly than before. The ability to offer customers tools that enable a hybrid printing workflow will impact workflow as more information is distributed electronically. RSA assisted numerous customers with new electronic and distanced staff workflows, but not everyone had the time to make changes properly. Ask customers if the changes they made were workarounds, clumsy, or error prone. There may be opportunity to improve workflow and processes by working with a professional like you and some of the changes they made may be time to make permanent and integrate with the rest of the production process.
- Inquire about outsourcing and in-sourcing plans – Customers may discover that it might be more effective to outsource some of the printing that they were doing in house prior to the pandemic. This situation could place greater demands on commercial printers who will require more advanced software, including workflow and web-to-print solutions to meet the demand. Another possibility during these uncertain times is that some customers may bring more jobs that were being outsourced prior to the pandemic in house as they look to reduce costs. Be prepared to assist customers in either scenario.