Monday, September 15, 2008

Sales vs Production: Sales Strikes Back!

On Friday I started a conversation on The title of the thread is Sales vs Production: Sales Strikes Back! Print Planet is a really neat print discussion board since it's mostly real people doing real work. It seems to me that it has lots of prepress and production people sharing, asking, answering and of course screeding.

Here are the words that got under my skin:
"Our sales schleps are so lazy that they don't even call the client to get printing specs anymore... just send the files to prepress and have them preflight it and tell us what's on the disk. Refresh my memory, but what the hell does a sales rep actually do? They don't pick up files anymore, they don't deliver proofs now that their atrophied brains have figured out what a PDF can do, they don't do press checks unless they're right after lunch which is usually when they drag their lazy carcasses into work, and they don't deliver the printing when it's done! Call me crazy, but I think I could do that too!"
So I said:
So . . . dear friends in production:
The sales process and the sales and CSR's who manage that process are the only people who bring in money. Everyone else is spending money. Sorry, but that "lazy sales schlep" is paying everyone's salary.
then blah, blah, blah, then I said
Give me a break !
Then he said and I said and .... If you have a little time, I think it's worth the click

Anyway, after a couple of back and forths, someone else got to an idea that makes some real sense moving sales into the 21st century.
I believe that digital pre-press skills combined with a CSR's communication skills is the perfect meld. Paramount to this however is the ability to actually complete the job. If a CSR/Digital worker has great communication and organizational skills but can not do the desktop work necessary to properly and efficiently produce a final piece, there is no product and no sale.

On the other hand if a desktop operator is moved into the position of a CSR/Digital worker and has adequate communication skills and can create consistently high quality product, you have a sale. In short, I believe that the digital age of printing has consolidated, and continues to consolidate, skills into the hands of less and less people.

Ten years ago the thought of a midsize shop running with 2 Pre-press employees per shift was ridiculous, computers changed that. The next stage of automation is fast approaching and those workers with computer skills and a willingness to engage and guide customers may be in the best position to benefit.

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