In the print industry, service providers frequently view marketing and sales as a medicine to be taken when something is wrong. (So, your business is down this quarter? Add some salespeople, do a little marketing and you'll feel better in the morning.) Yet the most successful companies recognize that proactive sales and marketing investments are vital to growing and driving business results.
In March 2015, McKinsey and Company published an article titled "Building Marketing and Sales Capabilities to Beat the Market." Authored by Bart Delmulle, Brett Grehan and Vikas Sagar, this article discussed a recent benchmarking study involving 15,000 employees at more than 140 leading B2B and B2B2C global businesses. The survey findings were clear: Revenue growth at companies with more advanced marketing and sales capabilities tended to be 30 percent greater than the average. This means that in an industry growing at 4 percent annually, a company in the top quartile of marketing and sales capabilities typically grows by about 5.3 percent.
These findings also apply to the print industry. In InfoTrends' recently completed study titled "Production Print Services in North America: Understanding Industry Transformation," over 400 print service providers were surveyed. Survey participants were asked about the share of their employees that fell into specific job categories. Companies that were experiencing growth of at least 10 percent placed a substantially higher emphasis on sales and marketing.
7 Hallmarks of Superior Marketing and Sales Capabilities
The McKinsey article identified seven hallmarks of building superior marketing and sales capabilities, and all of these lessons are applicable to the print industry.
1. View marketing and sales as an investment.
According to the McKinsey article, building a carefully chosen group of marketing and sales capabilities can yield a massive return — as much as five or 10 times that of an investment in hard assets such as factory equipment. The article also noted that building these capabilities should be linked to specific growth and margin objectives and instilling an ROI discipline.
2. Know what needs to be fixed.
One of the best ways to understand your shortfalls is to benchmark yourself against successful industry peers. To achieve this goal, service providers must truly understand the "levers" of sales performance and effectiveness: hiring, compensation, sales process and forecasting, as well as sales productivity. You should be asking yourself the following questions:
- Where are successful firms finding good sales candidates?
- What skill levels are the most successful firms hiring?
- How are the market leaders training their sales teams?
- How are the most effective firms compensating sales personnel?
- What CRM systems are working to enhance forecasting?
By networking with peers at trade shows or attending local association meetings/peer groups, service providers can gain an understanding of what is working and leverage that knowledge to build sales and marketing initiatives. Although the market is competitive, peers are typically willing to share best practices.
Read the whole article from the March issue of PS Magazine.