The Fourth Revolution

Printing World

If printing companies do not wish to see their sales staff voting with their feet and moving to IT rivals eager for their skills, they have the solution to hand – match the pay. GUY CARTER and DOMINIC GRUDZIEN sound a warning

We are now in the middle of a new revolution, the Fourth Revolution that is that of computers and IT impacting on all aspects of our daily life. Printing, traditionally reluctant to adopt technology is having to embrace it, but more importantly, also understand the implications for its existing and future employees.

The printed word will never disappear, but the use of it will have to dovetail and adapt to the new virtual world. It will be superseded in some instances, but in most cases it should go hand in hand with the technology in order to make a greater impact.

As a major head-hunter in the industry, Harrison Scott Associates has to consider how the changes both within printing and industry in general, will impact on the recruitment process. For example, a new breed of print salesperson is evolving.

Traditionally, a salesperson specialises in one format and then eats, sleeps and drinks it, selling more on specific knowledge of a particular product. The industry is shifting towards print management, bespoke solutions and concept selling, where the salesperson cannot necessarily be expected to be an expert in all aspects of print.

The focus and emphasis is placed on an ability to sell concepts. This is distancing the salesperson from the old industry whereby once you had developed specific knowledge, you never had to leave because of the ‘ink running through your veins” attitude. With the coming of the IT revolution, these days could be fading fast for companies and salespeople alike.

Solution-based sales are obviously a more complicated skill and as a result, these salespeople are earning comparatively higher salaries than those solely selling traditional print. Selling complex print solutions or selling IT-based solutions, what is the difference? Well, to sales people, on average about 25% on their package. The salaries on offer in the IT industry still far exceed most on offer within the print industry.

Offering communication-based solutions rather than just print enables organisations to better use the salesperson’s skills and increase the revenue from each contract. This, in turn, is likely to increase the profit margins, making the client more dependent because of the increased portfolio of products and services that are provided.

As the industry moves towards communication-based solutions, top salespeople may be attracted away because of improved salaries elsewhere, It is important that print does not become a feeding ground for other industries that will cherry pick individuals with strong solution-selling skills and knowledge of 112.

Additionally, if the good sales-person has knowledge of 112, then they will be an even more attractive commodity. Traditional print companies, and we know this to be a fact by virtue of a number of our clients, are having to wake up to the realisation that if they do not react accordingly then the competition will.

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