David vs. Goliath
Jensen agreed that due to the tightening market, customers currently aren’t creating as much collateral. “Because this strains all printers, our ‘loyal’ customers are being swooned by discounted prices that are certainly going below cost. To offset, we must succumb to pricing pressure when necessary, but we have also invested in customers and provided costly, yet rewarding, training and social functions,” he said.
If customers aren’t producing, if loyalty can be purchased and if demands are too overwhelming, then is it truly worthwhile for the novice distributor to entertain selling commercial print? Yes. According to Griffith, the good part about selling commercial print is that almost every business is a potential customer. He encouraged distributors to focus on a specific vertical market. By doing so, it will be easier to learn more about the end-user and his or her specific needs. Griffith reminded distributors to align with the appropriate designers as there are different types who handle reports, packaging, agriculture and corporate identity.
“The different departments that use commercial printing is amazing. There are marketing managers, public relations directors, human resource managers, project specialists, parts managers for packaging (small folded black-and-white pieces or black-and-white booklets that are inserted into finishing product boxes) and the list can be endless. This gives the commercial salesperson so many avenues to hunt inside each potential account,” Griffith stressed.
Putting aside self-serving goals, and instead, putting first the needs of customers is arguably the best way to defeat the giants. “Listen to the client, discern what you hear and go find the solution best suited for the individual being serviced,” Griffith suggested. “Asking for quotes or worrying about the competition is not going to make the sale.”
Partnering with a knowledgeable, reliable manufacturer will make the sale. If both sides of the trade spectrum combine forces, the puzzle is complete. Griffith and his peers realize a good manufacturer can only be one player on a large team.
Related story: Selling Points