Let's say you were at a sales meeting and the company president announces the addition of a new piece of equipment. This device, an inkjet printer from Canon, is not only better and faster than what it's replacing, it opens up all new opportunities for you as a salesperson.
Looking at the inkjet printer, you are amazed despite the fact you're not sure if you're looking at the front or the back. It doesn't matter. You learn that the boss got every possible option except for the surface to air missiles which apparently are still in beta.
Needless to say, we made that last part up. Come on…
You go through sales training, even sitting through a day with the authors of this blog, attending one of three thINK Virtual Workshops held in 2020. You learn about applications, what to expect, and the vertical market approach you can undertake.
After all this information and all this knowledge, you walk into your boss’ office, sit down and proclaim, "I don't want to sell inkjet," and then await the expected angry reaction.
Instead, your boss looks at you first through and then over his glasses. Then, after what feels like an eternity, he utters just one word: "Fine." Then, he returns to the document he was reading when you walked in.
You return to your desk, incredibly relieved. You were ready for an argument. You were ready to tell the boss you didn't need this new technology and capabilities. Your book of business is solid and your career has the finish line in sight. Fortunately, you think, it didn't come to blows and you, too, can get back to work.
Fast forward six months…
Your biggest account has awarded an order to your biggest competitor. When you investigate, you learn it was an inkjet printing job, one that you could have done. In a conversation with your key contact in Purchasing, you learn it was completely out of her hands. The Product Manager directed the sale after working with a sales rep on a new solution. There was no bid.
Oh well, you think. It wasn't as if I lost business. It's just that I didn't get a look at something new. No biggie.
Fast forward another six months…
That account is under attack! The competitor who won with the inkjet printing solution has infiltrated other aspects of the company. But instead of selling inkjet left and right, his reputation as a problem-solver has allowed him to network from decision-maker to decision-maker. Now, he has eaten away at a significant part of your core business there, and all because he sold inkjet printing.
Fast forward another six months…
With that large account all but gone, you are frantically looking to fill the hole in your sales volume with other work. Honestly, it's been years since you've had to prospect and man, have things changed out there! The buyer is far younger and has no interest in meeting. They tell you their needs are met and they are satisfied with their current vendors…unless, that is, you've got something new to talk about. You know, like inkjet printing.
If you're lucky, selling inkjet printing is optional, not mandatory. No one likes to be told what to do. If you're smart, you'll understand that while there might be a finish line when it comes to the sales career, there is no finish line when it comes to learning.
The opportunity that inkjet printing provides goes beyond new business. Bringing new solutions to existing accounts forms a defense against non-incumbent vendors (i.e. your competition).
It's okay to be hesitant. It's understandable if you are a little afraid. The language might be new and the buyer might be different. The equipment looks funny. If you were the first person to ever sell inkjet printing, you might have reason to be concerned. However, every problem and every challenge you will face has been overcome by someone else. And if they've done it; if they learned how to sell inkjet printing, so can you!
Bill Farquharson is a sales trainer for the graphic arts. He can be found at BillFarquharson.com
Kelly Mallozzi is a content creator for the graphic arts. She can be found at SuccessInPrint.net