Considering the somewhat frantic search for margins under the current market and economic conditions, it may be easy to become mesmerized by the promises of opportunity sure to be discussed at the On Demand Digital Printing and Publishing Conference.

Most projections, from more numerous and well respected sources as each month passes, describe opportunities surrounding "One to One" marketing, digital printing and variable printing that appear to have considerable potential. In fact, the contractual document business alone is estimated to be $50 Billion through 2004, numbers difficult to cast a blind eye to.

Staring down the throat of all of this opportunity can be exciting to be sure and if there ever has been a time for you to get your Sales Management house in is the time. More than ever the dynamics of this very new and different kind of selling opportunity demands a purposeful, deliberate and coherent "Go-to-Market" sales and marketing strategy.

What, you ask, might the key attributes of such a strategy be?

Clearly define your vision, goals and a timeline for execution. Goals by definition must be specific, measurable, achievable and worthwhile.

Get you arms around your organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and the Threats to your success. Do the same for your prospects and competition.

Commit your plan to writing and have your sales team do the same. Consistent top performers have a roadmap to follow and it is an even more important discipline for your more modest contributors.

Results don’t just happen and that’s why your plan should outline the behaviors, activities and skills necessary to be successful. It is up to you to provide the resources your team needs to develop and fine-tune those competencies.

Define your ideal prospect or customer profile(s). Developing long-term profitable accounts is a result of a more complex sale; lets make sure you are charging off after the best possible prospects for both your sake...and theirs.

Who are all of the stakeholders? When blueprinting your prospects’ organizations look broad and deep for those individuals who can affect, influence or are affected by the procurement process.

Speed through the buying cycle. Create your key account team, those in your organization who can assist your sales team move your prospects from consideration to commitment most effectively. Focus their energy, skills and effort on the plan.

Selling is Everybody’s Business. When customers leave a vendor it is less often due to price and most often due to service. All of your employees directly or indirectly touch your customers, what process will you use to assure that everyone in your organization takes ownership of their role in finding and keeping profitable customers?

Execute the plan and assess your progress (or lack of) weekly, monthly and quarterly. Remember, the plan is the guiding document. Make those adjustments necessary at each turn to fine-tune the plan to best achieve your goals.

Know your customers! In summary, the key components of any successful Sales Plan include the right combination of strategy, metrics and process, skill development and coaching, all greatly influenced by your knowledge of the Buying Process or Supply Chain Management practices of the organizations in your prospect list.