Print reps. I’ve met all kinds. The young and ambitious. The old and crabby. The new and clueless. The seasoned and condescending. The energized and creative. The wise and giving. And yeah, every type in between.
Generally speaking, the print rep is the one person from the company who’s in front of the print buyer (or designer, or marketer). And it’s because of this simple fact that we customers tend to judge the company based on the salesperson.
Fair? Maybe not, but it’s only human and only natural. When I thought about it for a minute, a few things came to mind:
- Your sales rep should be well acquainted with every product and service his or her company offers. We assume this to be true. But if that rep isn’t comfortable with, say, multichannel marketing or personalized printing, and the company offers both – well, you’re left in the dark about these services that you might be in the market for. The printer’s losing out on selling you these services. And maybe you’ll look elsewhere. What a shame.
- If a printing company prides itself on being forward-facing, informed about all kinds of media channels, and a consultative printer (not one that sells print as a commodity), your sales rep should reflect this in what he or she says and does.
- Printing firms have unique personalities, and in my experience they are truly distinct. Their sales reps should mirror this, but often they do not.
I’ve never been in sales and therefore have never hired, trained or managed sales reps. How many sales teams are put through a standardized training program, I wonder? How many sales managers stress to their reps, especially new ones, how heavy this customer responsibility is?
This is important stuff because of the stiff competition within the industry – and outside of it. There are commercial printers aplenty to work with, and a disgruntled customer who has a beef with her or his sales rep is more likely to switch printers than go around (or above) the rep to fix the problem.
Bottom line? Sales managers have a responsibility to make sure their reps are prepared and informed. Sales reps have a responsibility to know what can be done by their company, and what can’t. And customers have a responsibility to find out from their reps or from someone else at the company what products and services they offer. Speak up. Ask questions. Go above your rep if you love what a company produces but are having an issue with your salesperson.
It’s a heavy burden, being a sales rep and representing an entire company. Sometimes customers need to look beyond your rep.
(c) 2015 Margie Dana