It’s nothing new when I say that, having been in the print industry for over 30 years, there is one thing I see as an axiom: most print sales reps do not like change. Nor do they like to be challenged. However, training, particularly ongoing training, is vital if a print sales rep wishes to grow, wishes to remain relevant to his or her clients, and wishes to be able to adapt to an ever changing environment in the print industry. So let’s take a look at what I perceive to be the top 3 reasons print sales reps do not enhance their value by taking training courses:
I KNOW IT ALL ALREADY
This may sound extremely arrogant, and truly, it is. And this may be something you’d hear from a more seasoned and experienced rep, who’s been in the field for years or decades, maybe ran a press or even was a production manager themselves. Granted, I think most print sales reps might never say this, but deep down inside, they may think it. The problem with this statement is that printing is evolving at an exponential rate, and how our clients think about print changes rapidly too. To not avail yourself of training opportunities – whether it be how to incorporate social media into your mix of touch-points, or understanding mailing better, does both you and your evolving clients a disservice.
I HAVE AN ESTABLISHED CLIENT BASE
This is a dangerous statement, because I have experienced first hand when a major client takes their business to a competitor, or reduces the amount of print they purchase. Suddenly, an experienced rep is bringing in half of the sales and revenue that they used to. Not only does that mean a reduction in your commission (and income), but your sales manager or company owner now might see you as a liability, not an asset. So, how do you prospect? How do you get new leads? How do you TALK to the “new” print buyer? All of these things are part of a well-established sales training program, and if you spend time every week in some form of training, it can keep you fresh and alive.
I SELL PRINT
This could be interpreted in a few ways, but basically, it states that “I don’t need to learn anything new because I sell print, not anything else.” This is actually pretty archaic, and illustrates a rep that is out of touch with how print sales is changing. I will confess myself that even just a few years ago I was resistant to printing anything that didn’t go on one of our litho presses. The trap with this is that print now encompasses so much more than just “ink on paper”: large or grand format; apparel; mailing; even digital marketing – all these tie into print in some shape or form, or lead BACK to print. So taking the time to educate yourself on alternative print processes only makes you more valuable to your clients, and to your employers.
SO, WHAT CAN I DO?
Simple. Get into some kind of training program that gives you multiple levels of access. For example, I followed two great training programs, both online, and both with a “free” level of access that used YouTube videos and podcasts. If you chose to go deeper into training, these sources offered courses ranging in price from $45 to $600 (dependent on the course length and scope). I gained valuable insight from the free content, but I knew that I’d receive in better insight and one-on-one coaching from these sources with their paid courses. So, here’s a listing of the three top print sales coaches/trainers that I’d recommend:
- Bill Farquharson – Bill produces twice-weekly videos on YouTube, plus has a great sales training course that establishes a weekly accountability call between you and him, along with a comprehensive plan to boost your sales by giving you challenges to overcome. Check out his site at The Sales Challenge.
- Paul Castain – Paul is a very energetic and extremely creative source of ideas to sell better. His courses are not print sales specific, but he used to sell print for one of the “big guys” (he never reveals who, but I’m guessing Quad Graphics), so to me, everything he says can be applied to print sales. He does twice weekly podcasts, and offers one-time courses to full weeks long courses. You can find Paul at Your Sales Playbook.
- Matthew Parker – Matthew is different, in that he comes from the print buyer’s perspective, so his content is geared more on how to approach the prospect or client. He offers training courses that you get online, ranging from $50 all the way to $300. He’s based in the United Kingdom, but he’s very available via email or Skype. His programs can focus both on individual reps, or entire sales staffs. You can find him on Facebook, LinkedIn or on his Profitable Print Relationships site.
So, take advantage of what these great sales coaches can offer you, and take the step to improving your sales, your commission and your income! Not to mention your value to your clients.