| January 11, 2022
2021 was a good year for many printers and distributors. Sadly, that was not the case for everyone. And even within the realm of “good,” there was a range from “slightly good” to “crazy good,” wasn’t there?
Regardless of where you fell in that range, there’s no better time than now to think about making 2022 a really good year.
The first thing you should think about is whether your sales trend is positive, negative or neutral. In other words, are you coming into the new year with any sales momentum?
If you are, your primary sales and marketing challenge is to maintain that momentum. If you’re not, your challenge is to create some momentum.
How do you do that? The best strategy is a combination of reconnecting with current customers and getting the ball rolling toward new customer development. If you haven’t had any high-level discussions with your most important current customers recently, it’s likely that this activity will identify some immediate opportunities for growth. If you couple that with a solid measure of prospecting and follow-up activity, you’ll be laying the foundation for another surge of new business further into the year, as some of those prospects move through the consideration process.
What do I mean by high-level discussion with a current customer? It’s a conversation that’s not limited to what they’re buying in the present; it expands to cover what they’ve bought from you in the past, as well as what they might be willing and/or able to buy from you in the future. This conversation is really about change — what’s changed in their business and what’s changed in yours.
“I’d like to ask you about your plans for 2022,” you might say. “Especially as they concern your needs for printing or any other service you provide. Do you expect to purchase the same products from us in the same quantities as you have in the past? Are there new projects or products you anticipate needing printed support materials for? Can we also talk about things you’ve been buying from other suppliers, things you may not have known that we were capable of providing?”
After asking about their needs, you should tell them about any new capabilities you have added and anything else that has changed (or will be changing) in your business.
You may not have time to have this conversation with each of your customers over the first couple months of 2022, but I hope you’ll see the importance in making the time to have it with a certain group of customers. That group should include your “20/80’s” — the 20-or-so-percent of your customers who represent 80-or-so-percent of your current sales volume. It should also include all of the customers whom you think only buy a small percentage of their printing from you. In all likelihood, these undersold customers are the ones who provide you the greatest chance of an immediate boost in sales.
Beyond the strategy, the best advice I can give you is to act now! That’s how you get compounding power working for you. This is exactly the same effect you get from compounding interest: the earlier you start saving, the more you have in the end.
Don’t wait until later in the year to start working at increasing sales and profits. It’s not that you won’t benefit from the effort whenever you start it, but the bigger issue is that you’d be wasting months of compounding power by not starting now.
A little positive momentum generated early could be the key to an epic 2022!
Dave Fellman is the president of David Fellman & Associates, Raleigh, NC, a sales and marketing consulting firm serving numerous segments of the graphic arts industry. Contact Dave by phone at 919-606-9714, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his website at www.davefellman.com.
Marketing and Sales Business/Growth Strategies Commentary