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Deadly....Neglect...?

By Sid Chadwick, Chadwick Consulting, Inc. – 08/17/2023 Published in American Printer


“When Denny passed away unexpectedly, I felt overwhelmed…..I knew nothing about running the company he built…..I finally told myself….. ‘If I take care of Customers & Sales, everything would work-out’…….Revenues and profits this year are ahead of 2022...!”…………..Erin Warren, President, Crown Connect


INTRODUCTION:

A “rising tide”… does NOT lift all boats….!


Our great industry has a long-term - Blind Spot…..and a convergence – with multiple daggers - coming toward us…again.


“China’s Downturn Hits U.S. Industries”….The Wall Street Journal, A-1, August 15, 2023.


And……Retirements… of key personnel – are rolling at us….! (Look at your key personnel’s “Age Profiles”….!)


At an Association Supplier bimonthly Zoom Conference Call Monday this week, after listening to a “progressive, upbeat” economic report on the near-term U.S. Economy from a well-intentioned Committee Chairman, I then had the privilege of listening to a well-intentioned initiative for developing our region’s next round of company owners – particularly drawn from our regional Graphic Communication programs at Appalachian State University and Clemson University.


I chose to bite my lip, though I did voice (on the Supplier Committee Zoom Call) that I did not expect the U.S. economy to outrun China’s sliding economy, as evidenced - prior to The Wall Street Journal’s August 15th headlines: (a) reduced Chinese Exports, (b) reduced Chinese Imports, and (c) China’s recently, surprise “deleted” reports on growing unemployment problems – for its youth (running over 19% unemployment for 16-24 year-olds).


At a recent CEO Peer Group Meeting, spirited discussion included that lack of Planning to replace experienced, retiring, top-performing legacy Sales Reps – portends a troubling future for any organization – and their leadership – if not planning – at least - three years in advance…to develop top-notch Sales Rep replacements…for legacy retirees.


(Imagine… knowing that one of your top four legacy retirees… sold over $5 million - last year….!)


Company CEOs like to build things (like new facilities) and spend money (like newsworthy technologies and equipment)……but…then, what do you do next…?


The lack of deep, forward-looking understanding – that…Important Buyers buy from experienced, tested, top-notch Sales Reps…. whom they likeand trust - seems to get lost in our industry’s Hottest and Trendiest News Reports……and only resurfaces in our short-term memories….when an organization needs one or more – top-notch, experienced Sales Reps…Now..!


No print company marketing campaign I’ve ever observed…compensates for that fact….that condition….!


When that day, that moment….that realization…occurs, it can be…. too late.


At a recent CEO Peer Group Meeting, I thundered, “Where’s the Leadership in your organization… for relentlessly winning… and creating… revenues, profits… and customers….?


Who…. in your organization…represents that Leadership……..Leadership that does not lead from the back (…from behind a desk…or your local golf course…or while on vacation….)….but rather from the front…going after the best and most profitable customers …customers whose needs fit your organization’s most treasured capabilities….?


This condition is an Industry Blind Spot….not just a company blind spot….!


SUMMARY:

Over and over, I’ve watched owners buy a “new sales training program”…with no ongoing commitment or recognition – that Education & Training for Business Development – is a lifetime organizational commitment, not a “Program for Next Quarter, or the 2nd half of 2023.” Results from those training programs are too often poorly vetted and not measured critically. Results tend not to be reported. (Training organizations tend not to have successful experience in the complexities of our great industry…! And… there’s no substitute for competent, lead-from-the-front, and by-example leadership – in your own organization…!)


How many of your Sales Reps and CSRs know how to use Databases – for uncovering target prospects….? (Shouldn’t all of them…?)


Does anyone in your organization know how…and why…to research target prospects?


What Trade Shows do your target prospects… and most profitable customers attend…?


Is there an in-depth monthly check-up and quarterly reassignment – with your Business Development Leadership….?


Are Business Development Education Training sessions – biweekly….and substantive….?


Isn’t a primary reason your Reps aren’t making repeat Sales Calls to targeted customers… that they can’t get repeat appointments….because…they don’t know how to make their Sales Calls – worth their Buyer’s time….?


So our great industry’s Leadership…… continues to focus on new technologies…equipment…mergers and acquisitions….and maybe… a next generation of owners……to the neglect of….expert, well-trained, developing Sales Reps and CSRs……with an organizational strategy - that provides great information and service…to great customers…..that grow your revenues and profitability….!


Should we be looking for “The rising tide… that lifts all boats….?”


I hope not…!


“If you think you can’t afford ongoing education and training for your organization, you probably don’t realize…. you’re already paying for it.”………Allie Hutchison, Sr., Hutchison Allgood Printing Co.

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