We all hear that with the change to become Marketing Service Providers or Print Communications Companies, our selling strategies need to change also. Sales reps need to expect longer sales cycles because now we are selling projects, not jobs. We need to sell to different people in our customers’ companies, not the print buyer but the marketing manager. We’re told not to sell our equipment but our solutions. . . and we’re told that the traditional print rep is a thing of the past.
But many of us are still really commercial printers that are selling more services such as design, digital, mailing, and fulfillment, and aren’t ready to be Marketing Service Providers or Cross-Media Publishers.
What do our sales reps do now?
Traditional sales reps can still be very successful but they do need to adopt some different selling strategies. There is no future in being just an order taker selling a commodity based on price, but there is a solid future for the sales representative who recognizes how his or her buying world has changed.
Your goal needs to become a trusted advisor to your customers, not a sales person. You do that by learning and understanding your customers’ business. Then ask questions about their marketing communications, be able to understand their answers and help them improve their results:
• Why are you producing this mailer?
• Who is it going to and why?
• What were the results of the last mailer?
• Is it part of a larger cross-media promotion? And more…
Tell your customers and prospects about innovative solutions you have made for other customers. Become an expert in your field, whether it’s in mailing, personalized marketing, social media, database management or fulfillment. Educate your customers in these areas to demonstrate how you are thinking on their behalf.
Yes, it will take time to learn what you need to know and to position yourself as an expert advisor. Your sales cycle may become longer and you will need to be talking to others besides the ‘print buyer’. But you will have set yourself apart from your competition by being able to improve your customers’ business and provide them with solutions that work, not just take their orders.
With the wide acceptance of CRM and sales performance reporting, we regularly see sales managers review a variety of performance indicators ranging from what’s in the pipeline to how many deals were won in a specific time frame.
Data readily available from salespeople can be a huge help for not only the sales staff but also the marketing and senior management teams. For instance, if there are not enough deals in the pipeline, then an early alert is given to all in the organization that corrective actions must be taken or suffer the consequences of a missed sales or profit objective.
Now that the year end is near, it’s is a great time to take stock in the effectiveness of your sales program.
Based on our observations working with a variety of commercial
printing companies and equipment manufacturers, there is one
indicator that is rarely leveraged. It is deals won divided by
proposals generated where customers actually made a decision
to act. We use decisions where customers actually acted because
we expect great salespeople to qualify opportunities before
The simple formula is:
Deals won/total deals where customers actually made a
decision to act = sales effectiveness
5 deals won divided by 25 customer opportunities where the
customer actually acted equals 20% effectiveness
We recommend using this KPI to give everyone in the
organization a view of what is vital. Detailed analysis
of sales effectiveness could lead to adjustments on
sales coverage, skills, compensation, marketing and
Here are some key questions to ask:
* Of the proposals generated how many were a response to “blind” RFPs – That means situations where salespeople had no significant involvement prior to the RFP being developed? Are these opportunities worth responding to?
* How many proposals were enabled from leads generated by the company’s marketing e.g. Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media, trade shows?
* How many of those were won? Do we need to do more marketing? What role does the salesperson have in creating and developing leads?
* How many proposals and wins were generated by sales people where the lead was mainly enabled, developed and qualified by the hard work and skill of the salesperson? What can be done to create even more opportunities?
* Are we in enough opportunities that are qualified and the customer is ready to act
Organizations need to understand where opportunities come from, why some proposals are won and some are lost. Most importantly, how companies and salespeople can add more value to win more deals. The answers to questions can only be developed through using and managing the data that is readily available to marketing and management teams.