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Tried and true actions for sales success in the rebound from COVID and beyond

Good news from the PRINTING United Alliance economic team: printing industry sales are projected to grow in 2021, boosted by a sharp upturn in the U.S. economy!
While there are too many unknowns to forecast how much growth will occur, what is clear is the importance of preparing to participate in the upcoming recovery. According to ongoing NAPCO survey research, print service providers that are best positioned to bounce back in the post-COVID recovery actively monitor, analyze and act on market trends.
In addition, successful shops work to consistently improve market analysis and execution, viewing profitability as an ongoing journey rather than a destination.

Look Beyond the Industry

The research also identifies another important differentiator:  industry leaders make decisions by combining insights learned from trends in their immediate competitive environment with those from outside industries. Looking beyond the printing industry to trends in other markets can spark new ideas and combat creative inertia.

Consider taking the following actions:

– Read articles, blogs, e-letters or magazines that serve your customers or new industries you want to Following trends in your customers’ industries can inspire ideas for products and services.
– Join a peer group or attend a conference from outside the printing industry. Joining a printing industry peer group is also a good idea as members can learn from each other and share best practices.
– Participate in the same social media networking groups as your customers and prospects. Use these platforms to learn and position yourself as a valuable resource by contributing commentary and content that matters to the group.
– Make a list of the top companies in your customers’ industries and follow them. A content-monitoring service, such as Google Alerts or an RSS feed reader, can automate news monitoring and send company alerts.
– Seek opinions from top customers. According to NAPCO Research’s study Defining Sales Success Factors in Today’s Print Shops, 57% of survey respondents reporting double-digital sales growth hold external account reviews with customers. These types of customer meetings typically include discussions on customers’ future plans, key requirements and trends affecting their business, all of which can be parlayed into new products and services. Another way to solicit customer opinions is to survey clients on their needs, expectations, future plans and level of satisfaction. Customer feedback is a powerful tool for pinpointing post-pandemic product and service opportunities.

Resources for Guiding Analysis

There are many resources available to guide businesses in analyzing and acting on trends. Here are two resources print providers may find useful:
– The book Outside In, The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine highlights the dangers of inside-out thinking, or of assuming providers know what clients Understanding what’s really happening with clients takes more than casual contact and the occasional satisfaction survey. It requires consistently measuring all points of contact that an organization has with its clients — not just in sales and customer service.
– The Harvard Business Review article “Planned Opportunism,” by Vijay Govindarajan, addresses the importance of reading the “weak signals,” or early evidence of emerging trends in technology, client preferences, communication habits, demographics, etc., through which future opportunity reveals itself.
Preparation is Key
Preparation and creative thinking are vital strategies for maximizing sales growth in the upcoming recovery. Research indicates that print service providers that recognize opportunities early on and move decisively to capture them can outmaneuver competitors and grow.
At Ricoh, we work with a clear mission in mind – to help you thrive today and keep growing tomorrow.  Check out these videos and see how we’re helping other shops adapt and grow.