Archive for October, 2010

Given the way in which the world economy is restructuring and the general uneasiness about the future, price has become the issue that continues to plague some salespersons. They have a hard time overcoming price objections because that is the only thing they offer to the client.
As a print Salesperson, if price is always the determining factor in whether you land a sale, look for another career. You have to bring VALUE that has worth to the table for your clients and the company you work for. If you won’t/can’t then you are either lazy or do not possess the skill sets needed for success.

Some of the common pitfalls of Salespeople who
only offer “the lowest price”:

1. They submit price quotes and NOT proposals. Proposals offer client solutions to their problems. Price quotes can be obtained on the Internet and there is no need for a Salesperson if all they do is submit price quotes.

2. They do not ask the right questions of their prospects: ie. “what factors determine who you use as a printer? If it is only price, then have you ever thought about the possibilities of getting some good input from your print salesperson to make more money for your business? After all, we have 5 other clients in your market and we have helped them just as we can help you…let me explain how…”

3. They are afraid of having a higher price than their competitor. Frankly, there is “always a lower price”. Over 5-8,000 printers go bankrupt per year. That means the market is full of “survival pricing” that benefits no one. If a Salesperson does not see value and believe they are worth more than someone else, then look for a new career (again). Salespeople have to have certain innate character attributes, one of which is self-confidence in their ability to be a valuable asset to customers. Some salespeople are too arrogant, which can turn off clients. But, if given a choice in hiring a salesperson, I’ll take the “arrogant cocky personality type” (which you can tone down with some frank discussion) versus the “chicken-little timid type” who has no confidence in their ability to be worth more to a client than their competitor salespersons.

The National Review has weighed in on the protectionist paper tariffs recently:

“…Ironically, just a week before the AFL-CIO attack, Ohio’s incumbent governor, Democrat Ted Strickland, was in Washington seeking special favors to protect a corporation whose actions could come right out of an Oliver Stone fever dream. That company, which Strickland mentioned by name in his testimony, is NewPage, an Ohio paper company. And like the fictitious Teldar Paper of Wall Street — the subject of Gekko’s infamous “Greed Is Good” speech — NewPage is owned by a rapacious hedge fund that is forcing the company to downsize, kill jobs, shut down plants, and bully other companies out of its market — all in the name of higher profits.
The hedge fund in question is none other than Cerberus Capital Management, a firm last seen driving another of its companies — Chrysler — into bankruptcy. Like its management of Chrysler, Cerberus’s ownership of NewPage has been nothing but trouble — but that didn’t stop Ted Strickland from going to Capitol Hill to lobby on its behalf. Following a business model that could be charitably described as “strangle the supply of paper in order to force up prices,” NewPage was a leading liquidator of jobs during the 2008 recession. It shut down six paper-making facilities in 2008 and refused to sell two formerly profitable plants to an eager buyer — thereby reducing the supply of paper in the marketplace.

But NewPage wasn’t content shutting down its own plants. It actually went to the trouble of buying other plants just to shut them down, too. These moves attracted wide condemnation from union leaders, whose pleas went unheeded. NewPage pocketed more than $300 million in federal handouts while still posting losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars — and quarterly losses increased by 60 percent even while its sales increased. This while its CEOs (it has had five of them in the past four years, only one of whom lasted a full year) walked away with multimillion-dollar severance packages. Other high-level executives banked millions of dollars in bonuses.

Which brings us to Strickland’s testimony. Contra his anti-corporate rhetoric in this campaign, Strickland is in fact lobbying for political protection for NewPage in the form of new protective tariffs tailored to ensure its interests. In doing this he risks not only his carefully cultivated image as an anti-corporate crusader but also (and more important) undermines the United States’ credibility as an honest partner in international trade relationships.
In his testimony, Strickland had this to say about the paper companies he was hoping to save:

Strickland made his case in terms of saving Ohio jobs and workers from the ravages of unfair international trade, but what he failed to mention was that he seeks trade sanctions so stiff and severe that both the Chinese and Indonesian governments are guaranteed to dispute them, even before they take effect, at the World Trade Organization. Retaliatory tariffs—which are sure to follow should Strickland get his way—could threaten thousands of American jobs and hurt millions of American consumers, in Ohio and around the country.

NewPage is the very type and model of a self-interested corporation that puts profit above all and isn’t ashamed to take political favors and government handouts in the course of doing business. That Strickland would go to back for such a corporation at all—much less defend it, by name, in federal testimony—while selling himself as the blue-collar champion of the working class is remarkable. That he does so while his allies compare his opponent to Gordon Gekko, who would be right at home in NewPage’s executive suite, suggests that he is either immune to irony or believes Ohio voters to be deaf, dumb, and illiterate. “Money never sleeps,” according to Gordon Gekko. Neither does hypocrisy.”

– Mytheos Holt covers Ohio for National Review Online’s Battle’10 blog.