By Mike Wesner March 29, 2004 -- John Wooden, the famed UCLA basketball coach, always found the right spot on the court where his players were most effective in making their shots. Some players were better at 12-foot shots in front of the basket, others from 15-foot at the top of the key, and others were stronger with their left hand from down low. A superstar was allowed to shoot from any spot on the court. Wooden studied his team's strengths and weakness and designed plays that only allowed them to shoot from their particular “sweet spots.” Did this hold back the players and keep them from being successful? No. Wooden put his teams and players in a position to win and to be the best that they could be by knowing their strengths. Make sure your sales team is allowed to shoot from the right locations on the court. The discussion with many industry leaders seemed to lead to a common question, “How can I teach my sales team to find digital annuities?” During my recent trip to the On Demand Expo in New York, much of the buzz in seminars I attended and led was about digital opportunities in the industry. The “March Madness” I refer to was from companies desiring to increase their digital printing sales. New companies are entering the digital printing market and have recently installed digital printing equipment, hoping to get invited to the “big dance.” There is a new level of anxiety as new sales and marketing strategies are created to harvest these digital printing opportunities. The discussion with many industry leaders seemed to lead to a common question, “How can I teach my sales team to find digital annuities?” One idea that is proving successful for printing companies is the role of the digital sales hunter. The Hard Core Hunter/Killer Salesperson Many of us like to be thought of as the hunter of large prey--we knock down several doors, upset five people, make people in the plant upset, but in the end we bag the elephant and we're already stalking our next prey. This is not always the best approach, but there definitely is a place for the impatient, spontaneous, charismatic hunter. You either love or hate this right-brain schmoozer. If you have him, the one thing that you can't deny is that he certainly creates a lot of interesting opportunities for your company. If you do have this person, the first thing you should do is make sure you are overpaying her. If you have a digital printing professional who can serve as a change agent in your company and help lead your company into the new landscape of digital printing, consider yourself very fortunate. If this person also has the ability to hunt, then you have something extra special. Combine this persuasive, spontaneous player with the right team, right market, and a marketing plan that positions his team as a business communications company and something really special can be realized. Digital printing often includes peripheral businesses such as fulfillment distribution, mail solutions, e-solutions, one-to-one marketing solutions, digital asset management, and much more. These are value added services that will position your company for future success when the industry will be more about “information logistics” than putting ink on paper. In that future, you'll be happy that you have this talent as part of your team. If you do have this person, the first thing you should do is make sure you are overpaying her. She is a very valuable member of your team and others in the industry want her to be on their teams. The second thing to do is to ensure you are using her effectively. Do not over-manage, expect detailed sales reports, or expect a lot of interest in how you are going to get the system created, she is too busy with the next target in her cross-hairs to worry about polishing the trophy that she just earned. New Business Opportunities Good hunters can open almost any door. The more challenging the customer, the more determined the hunter is to conquer the challenge. Add to this passion a quiver full of solutions created by being a digital communications company and your digital hunter can take you into new and uncharted territory. WIIFM I talked recently with a marketing director of a Fortune 500 company who shared with me that he is called every day by more than one new printing company. As I asked more questions of this marketing leader, he held firm to saying that he gets more than 250 phone calls a year from printers who are first time callers. Marketing directors across the company listen to the same radio station—WIIFM. In our discussion I learned that the voice mails he receives are usually the same. The caller is excited about how their company recently received an industry award, or just purchased some new iron contraption which now does things bigger, better, faster, and cheaper. All of this reminds me of the question that Seth Godin, a keynote speaker during day two at On Demand, challenged the audience to ask themselves: “Who cares?” The message in a crowded marketplace is lost if it is not relevant and if there is not some real reason to believe that the benefit matters. That is the question that the marketing director asks himself when these printers leave these messages. But the things that get this gentleman's attention are those solutions that are intertwined with the digital solution. Marketing directors across the company listen to the same radio station—WIIFM. What's In It For Me ? Unless we can help them, we are not adding value and may never be heard in this crowded marketplace. “You say you can change my cost of new customer acquisition to $4 instead of $40,” thinks the marketing leader. “Now you've got my attention!” They want to know how you can help them increase revenues and solve some of their biggest problems. Traditional printers do not usually get to participate in these discussions. The digital solutions hunter might be able to get you to the table because the initial conversation is different. New doors are opened with this professional who can discuss a need for solutions such as an integrated supply chain fulfillment solution. I recommend you surround this hunter with a team of farmers to whom the hunter can hand her new prey to for proper cooking. The hunter has many strengths, but she will be more effective if she is allowed to focus on the hunt. Don't require her to excel in those left-brained activities that are necessary to cultivate and produce results for the customer. The more detailed oriented, results-driven, patient farmers are better suited for the accounts. Hunters and farmers are needed in all successful sales teams. We live in an era of specialization and sales people are all created different. Like John Wooden's basketball players, make sure your sales team is allowed to shoot from the right locations on the court. And remember, your digital hunter can shoot from places that others can't even imagine. The shots will be acrobatic and unorthodox at times. Sometimes she will frustrate the team but in the end her shots will change the team by helping them win games that will ultimately take the team to the championship game.