Before you get a chance to impress customers with your technical capabilities, low prices, and commitment to their success you need to perform some very basic tasks. How quickly can you get them a quote? How confident are you in the accuracy of that quote? How quickly can you confirm a ship date? How often do you believe you will actually hit that date?
It takes a lot of effort to put yourself in front of a new prospect. Phone calls, emails, late flights, long drives…these efforts can drag on for months or even years in some cases before you get a chance to convince someone that they should buy from you and your company. There’s nothing more frustrating than putting in the work to get to that point and failing to deliver. Customers expect a lot. They want an accurate, competitive quote, a realistic lead time, and a smooth approval process. Giving them these things can separate you from your competitors. Failure to do so can separate you from prospects and existing customers. Trying to respond to customers without adequate systems and tools quickly becomes a frustrating proposition.
These tasks may seem basic but they typically require input from a variety of people in different roles. Trying to turn a quote around in a hurry? What if you run digital, flexo, offset, and gravure presses? You probably have to quote a job five different ways to know what is best for you and your customer. Different technical specs and broad quantity breaks can make or break you. What about pricing multiple SKUs together? Building tooling and prepress charges into the unit cost? It goes on and on and gets increasingly complicated. Your customer is not concerned. They want a price and they want it quickly. If you’re on the road and you rely on an estimating department you might wait two days or more to get an answer. All the while the clock is ticking. Your customer is thinking about other projects, meeting with other vendors, and forgetting about the great meeting they had with you.
What about lead time? Do you know your true capacity? Can your production team get back to you with reasonable ship dates? Again, there are many factors involved including availability of tooling, substrates, specialty inks, and plates or cylinders. What if you get the order and you’re over capacity? You could move it from a 40” press to a digital press to get it out the door but should you? Will you still make any money? Without the right tools in place these decisions are often made under duress and with little real understanding of the impact they have on your company.
My name is Michael Hunter and I’m the VP of sales for LSI. We are a software development and consulting firm focused on helping manufacturers improve their process using a range of tools with a focus on planning and scheduling. Before coming to LSI I worked in label printing for many years, mostly on the production side but also in various sales roles. I’ve been the sales rep on the road fighting to get an opportunity. At other times I’ve been in charge of production trying to appease a sales force and get everyone’s orders out on time. What we have developed are tools to bring entire organizations together, supporting your sales goals, defining your production limitations, allowing you to make SMART decisions.
I hope you can join us for our upcoming webinar to learn more about LSI Print Control and our web based estimating systems, advanced planning and scheduling tools, and shop floor data collection systems.