By Carro Ford December 15, 2003 -- How often has the phrase “solution selling for the enterprise” or some variation been hyped in a Powerpoint presentation or magazine article? When you take the pretty wrapping off the concept and look inside, there are really only one or two basic ideas knocking around in there. Enterprise selling is nothing more than selling directly to a corporation of a certain size. Of course, all businesses are really enterprises, but we tend to reserve that term for the big boys. The larger the organization, the more likely we are to call it “enterprise.” So enterprise selling sounds impressive, but don’t limit your thinking to the big fish. There’s plenty of opportunity in small (still with millions in sales) to mid-size organizations, and one way to improve your odds is “solution selling”. Solution selling is about applying a process to selling. So what’s the process? “To start, print suppliers have to determine to whom they are going to sell,” says Greg Goldman, principal of the GMG ConsultingGroup (www.gmgconsultinggroup.com). Goldman consults with vendors and print suppliers, and is collaborating with PODi, the On Demand initiative, to create content for the Solution Selling Intensive offered at the PODi Applications Forum in Las Vegas February 9 – 11 (www.podi.org) “In breaking down the marketplace, many suppliers will first look at target verticals, financial services for example, and then at the size of the target enterprise. How do I get to the right level of contact in the organization? What are the customer’s marketing communication strategies or marketing applications that my company can supply? This requires extensive needs analysis research,” states Goldman. “Once you've got this analysis, it is logical to assume there must be a way to automate those applications and uncover savings and a clear ROI for at least some of the prospective client’s marketing spending.” A Road Map for Print Suppliers If you want to provide the solution to that target vertical, what pieces do you need to add as a company? Your sales force has to understand what customers need and how to put the pieces together. It might be Web capabilities, data management services or variable page composition. These pieces define the road map for print suppliers. You may only have four today, but that’s a good start. “Most print industry sales efforts these days take a shotgun approach. Someone calls their best friend or their neighbor or a golf buddy looking for jobs to print,” Goldman says. “The solution selling model is about putting processes in places and getting programmatic in your approach. It’s really not about print. It’s about automating the marketing processes of a corporation. Print is just one of the services in your marketing automation package. “This approach solves a real need, but the average print salesperson selling short-run color POD isn’t thinking this way. He is wired to hunt for one-off print jobs, versus focusing on where customers can capture savings, and understanding what is entailed in a complete solution offering. Most on demand printers who are struggling today are in trouble because of this disconnect.” Look for the Frustrated Marketing Exec It’s hard for even mid-sized or large printers to compete with enterprise heavyweights like IBM and HP as they push their marketing automation wares, but who cares? There is plenty of opportunity for smaller, regional printers with small to medium-size companies that want to automate marketing without incurring multimillion contracts with IBM or HP. You will recognize these prospects by the frustrated marketing VP who knows his processes are not efficient because the company still prints and warehouses its collateral. How else to recognize a good opportunity? Look for a healthy product line and quick product cycles. More products mean more collateral. Do they sell through a channel? Managing marketing for a passel of resellers is a logistics and branding nightmare. Each distributor wants their own stuff with their own logo. And certainly, is this a growing business with expanding marketing needs? Clues like these tell you there is a potential for marketing automation and an opportunity for business. Get to know the marketing guys. Marketing is being held more accountable, and managers are looking for ways to be more efficient and drive ROI. The Marketing Automation Package “Today you can help solve your marketing customer’s needs by creating a process that lets their channel partners create, customize and fulfill brand-controlled collateral from a Web portal,” declares Goldman. “ Packaging these solution components reduces the complexity of the marketing program process. Allowing the channel partner access to a utility that enables them to change photos or images, upload and add logos or change text within given parameters to create a customized brochure is the real value of the solution.” This is how Mr. Printer can help Mr. Marketing Executive automate, and this is the essence of selling a solution rather than focusing on just the print component. “Don’t underestimate the POD opportunity contained within a digital collateral management solution. These solutions are no longer about one local marketing guy doing one brochure. As part of the solution sell, there are opportunities to manage print across a distributed network of sites. This may require developing a network of global printers and managing the entire process of distributed print and fulfillment. Today it is possible to run a fully automated distributed network through the use of Internet technologies, dynamic composition engines, PDF document proofing and electronic job ticketing. These advances make sophisticated, short run distributed POD programs a viable reality.” This is multi-channel direct marketing with on demand and variable data printing, email communication services and personalized web pages, and marketers love it. Help them see how they can reduce what they have been spending on print, channel support, paper, etc. and what ROI can be achieved with automated marketing. The marketing automation solution adds real value, and it’s not a hard sell with benefits like faster time to market, reduced administration cost, fewer people to manage, consistent brand control, and the flexibility for channels to customize. Help your customers achieve results like these, and they’ll think it’s Christmas!