How failing to plan for decline leads to missed print sales targets

There are some great success stories in print at the moment

I constantly use social media to share great stories about why people should use print. Companies are waking up to the fact that print is still a highly effective communication channel. Companies such as Google, LinkedIn, Amazon and Apple are all using print as part of their marketing strategies. (If you are not already receiving this information from me, please connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter or hook up with me on Facebook.)

Many people say that print is having a renaissance. It is certainly true that a large number of companies are switching some of their marketing budget from digital to print. In addition, our industry is constantly coming up with new products that become common in our everyday lives. We only have to look at the photo products market to see a real growth in one print sector.

Nevertheless, we also need to face up to a truth that we may not like.

Customers don’t need as much print as they used to

Sales planning like this can be a recipe for disaster

Printed magazines will always be with us. However, these days most magazines have much smaller runs. They also have smaller paginations.

Direct mail is having a bit of a resurgence. But companies are often focusing on smaller runs of more personalised pieces. The good old days of long run direct mail being a common product are finished.

Nonetheless, many print sales people and printing companies remain optimistic. They can’t see these declines applying to them. They budget for unrealistic growth.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of opportunities for growth for good printing companies. However, at the end of the year, many people come up short against their sales targets. This is because they have failed to take account of one important rule in sales.

It is vital to plan for decline

Be realistic. You are almost certainly going to lose some customers over the next 12 months. Some will decide to move to another supplier. Others will stop using print. And, sadly, some will simply go out of business.

A number of your other customers are likely to reduce their spend. They may decide to commit more to digital marketing. They may be faced with budget cuts. Their business may simply be in decline.

I am always surprised at the number of sales budgets that I look at that do not plan for this decline in activity. One report that I have heard of states that you should plan for a 15 to 20% decline in your customer base. This may be a little extreme. Many of these customers may well be your smaller customers. Nevertheless, there will almost always be a drop in business from your current customer base. Your sales plan for the next 12 months should reflect this.

What happens if you do not plan for decline?

Printing companies that do not plan for decline will almost certainly fail to achieve their targets. They will fall short on their budgeted sales from existing customers. They will have to exceed their new business sales targets in order to make up for this gap.

Naturally, if you don’t achieve your targets it can lead to problems. The last thing that any printer wants is to have presses standing idle. In a worst-case scenario, you may even have to lay staff off.

So what’s the right way to plan for decline?

This article is an excerpt from my new book “How To Succeed At Print Sales”. It covers how to plan for decline in detail, as what to do to make sure you replace lost business with the right type of client.

Go here to invest in your copy right now!
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