By Terry Nagi The digital sales person must embrace the "pain" concept and react more vigorously to its "solution". October 11, 2004 -- Success in selling digital printing is based to a great extent, on a print sales representatives' ability to find a digital print buyer in "pain." This is followed by an accurate diagnosis of the causes of that pain which involves print, making the individual with the pain aware of alternatives (hopefully, via a digitally printed product), and then, selling the digital solution. As with many other suggestions on how a print sales representative can be successful in selling digital versus offset print, the sales techniques used by successful, professional print sales representatives is not significantly different in offset versus digital sales. What is important is the digital sales person must embrace the "pain" concept and react more vigorously to its "solution". The "pain" person is not normally the purchasing agent. Their major pain points include: 1. finding the time to listen to the increasing number of voicemails from new print sales representatives that seek a first-time appointment; 2. attempting to differentiate one printer from another in a world of largely commodity print. 3. attempting to buy on some criteria other than "price-only " as so instructed by the Chief Financial Officer of their company (versus a realization that one printer is better than another and not always necessarily the lowest price). The key "pain person" is often an executive in charge of marketing, sales, trade exhibitions, distributor sales, public relations, human resource management, or the best of all, the CEO, COO, or CFO. Yet, the key "pain person" is often an executive in charge of marketing, sales, trade exhibitions, distributor sales, public relations, human resource management, or the best of all, the CEO, COO, or CFO. These are the individuals who are most impacted by the success--or non-success--of a print campaign. The course is clear. Any early prospecting must first identify these key executives by name and title, normally contained within their company's Annual Report, reports to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and databases such as Hoover's and on the company's Web site. If a private company, Google searches on the private company's name often turns up the names of the key executives of the company. In addition, the now forbidden practice of just stopping by a prospect's location to gather information is quite okay. It could be an excellent opportunity to meet the CEO's or Marketing VP's administrative assistant, or to obtain the names of appropriate individuals who might have a "pain" as well as to obtain samples of their recent catalogs, brochures, sell sheets, distributor information, etc. Ease Their Pain So now comes the print sales representative's pain: Getting an appointment to see an appropriate executive. For the digital print sales representative whose company has already produced solutions to the pains of other buyers, the process should be relatively simple. Today's buyers simply want solutions. They want something better than that offered by competitive printers. For the purchasing agent, that's normally a better price. For executives, it is: More sales. Higher average sale per customer. More customers. Higher customer retention. Higher profits per sale. Reduction of excess inventory. Faster time to market Increased brand recognition. Enhanced communication with customers, employees, stockholders, and stakeholders. Improved employee relations and knowledge. Enhanced recruitment of the best possible employees. Faster and more successful response to customer problems. Begin by asking the person in pain, "What they would like to achieve with their investments in communications and print?" This can get their attention. After a period where print seems took a second place to Internet investment and the concentration of marketers was on Web site development and deployment, print is regaining some of its lost prominence. This is especially true as marketers who relied upon e-mail found their promotions considered SPAM and undesirable. Direct mail is returning as an important budget item in a marketer's budget because broad-based Internet promotions were simply not as effective as highly targeted printed messages--a key advantage of digital print solutions. The next question to ask a marketing executive or their associate, "Are you interested in making the value of your Web site more effective?" What are they going to say, 'no'? The digital print sales representative therefore can find prospects with their minds open to using targeted, short-run or variable print as a segment of their marketing budget. In addition, a second important factor is the growing desire to have a web-to-print option, whereby individuals visiting the buyer's web site will find themselves contacted via a direct mail piece based on the characteristics the recipient entered on that site. This should be one of the prime driving forces for the ever increasing sales of variable printed products in the next two to three years. That makes the next question to ask a marketing executive or their associate, "Are you interested in making the value of your Web site more effective?" What are they going to say, 'no'? Selling the value of a web-to-print solution almost automatically sells the digital printing capabilities of the printer. The same can be said for selling a more personalized and individualized message to those who can see the value and use it: the sales manager's sales force or sales offices; marketing or sales manager's messaging to independent distributors, the exhibition manager's response to the top visitors to the company's exhibit; the customer relationship manager's informational update to prime and most lucrative customers; the human resource manager's response to best applicants for a key employee position, the CFO's (Chief Financial Officer) letter to the key stock holders, the CEO's letter to best customers and prime prospects; And the list goes on. Top dogs in organization simply have the need to communicate better but have to be shown how variable, personalized printing can answer an immense need for targeting the recipients of the communication. Next month we will examine and relate actual case studies of variable, personalized digital print successes.