Having worked in the printing industry most of my adult career, I found technology to be fascinating and how it affects and influences print as we know. I was mesmerized and found digital variable data printing to be the most amazing invention ever. So, imagine my disappointment when I don’t see that same passion and shared enthusiasm from some of my work peers and friends.
Was it me…?
Then again, I found a few articles and especially a blog by Bill Farquharson and again it dawned on me. One must be quite “special” and “over the top” to get excited, as I did about a new digital machine and what it can do. Here are some highlights from an article that he wrote about the art of selling more variable data printing and the inhibitors of that:
Your sales people do not want to sell it:
The company makes an announcement “we have this awesome new print digital technology, you will call on different types of customers you accustomed to, they may have greater technical abilities than you, and your customers will be very apprehensive about the digital versus offset quality. Adding to this the orders sizes will be ominously smaller, so the commission will be less, and you will have to start learning some digital and IT lingo to go alongside all of this.
“To summarize, you’ll take a long time to sell small orders, to people who speak a language that you don’t understand — all for a fraction of what you could make versus traditional commercial print.”
Digital and VDP require a subjective sale:
Digital printing is not your everyday type of print style as conventional print, it doesn’t begin to compare to digital (be it some digital companies like us to believe). I’m of the opinion that Gutenberg would turn in his grave, had he even hypothesized what digital can do today. This type of print requires a creative and conceptualizing mind on both ends of the scale. The sales person literally has to explain the story from start to finish in the most alluring and theatrically explicit way possible, drawing a picture and illustrations of the start and end result. Enthralling customers in the illusion of what could be and what the end result could achieve with Variable Data Marketing. Be it a whole Marketing spiel of price, product, promotion, place and people
Digital print and VDP refines the “loyal customer”
Back in my day if you own the plates you owned the customer, how wrong can this statement be in the current digital age. Leveling the playing field as it may, the new digital revolution comes down to 3 things, the file, the correct format – PDF, and how we transfer that file. Adding to this how good is your security in firewalls and how much data you can handle and how good is your data mining team, defines the success of any job run in digital or VDP.
There is no such thing as a quick, profitable digital print sale
In the beginning of the digital era, you can have quick but it came at a price. Now having both quick and profitable is not an option any longer. Gone are the days whereby selling hundreds of training manuals is a given and stating, “on demand” as the sales pitch. Training organizations are eliminating print and now digital devices to replace such manuals. Smart thinking, differentiating and selling value to print making it convenient and selling the “it” factor is what is going to matter. Keeping in mind that the “Joe Blog” copy shop down the road can maybe do it at half the price as his setup is way different to yours. Yes, Mr. Copy Shop’s quality is not as good, but hey who cares when it’s a mere training manual right. NO – quality still matters and that’s where smart thinking plays a vital role in selling digital print or VDP.
Vendors may be your best, unexploited resources
Yes, that guy that sold you the digital beast is your best friend in generating amazing projects and opportunities on your devices. Make use of their business development team and work hand in hand to generate those amazing masterpieces. Remember your success means their success so exploit the opportunity and make them part and parcel of the sale. The same can be said for paper merchants and sales, utilize expertise at your disposal to help you succeed.
You get the picture? Not every sales person will be cut out to sell digital and only a very select few will ever be the “forward-thinking innovative digital guru” So word of advice will be to find that “one” special individual in your sales team that shows the intuitive “special” knack and develop them to become your “Digital Specialist” – let’s face it we not all cut out to be doctors or chefs.