February 21st, 2011
Day 3, Bill Ruesch recession recovery diary
In my headlong rush to create a diary of my experiences in recession recovery, my wife says that I’ve been revealing T.M.I. She says that it is no body’s business how much I used to earn in the pre-recession world. Maybe she’s right. Probably she is right. She usually is.
My only excuse is that I want my readers to know that I’m not a rank amateur who has garnered a little information and decides to pass himself off as an expert. I’m also not a flop at selling printing who is now trying to make money in some other way. It often amazes me to see “experts” who have never actually done the job making tons of money selling real sales people their secrets. This may sound bitter, but my impression is that their secrets are nothing more than keeping their buyers from knowing how little they actually know based on their experience.
If they looked like this no one would be duped.
It doesn’t matter if these brazen showmen are selling on the Internet, at conferences, or at seminars. The show is what matters and I’ve never been good at the show. I have always tried to provide valuable service at reasonable rates. How about you, dear reader?
I’ve been employed full-time in printing sales for 35 years. For twenty of those years I’ve been self-employed as a printing broker or as I’ve begun calling myself an Independent Printing and Mailing Manager. For some unknown reason that I have never been able to fully understand, customers always think that my services as a Print Broker are going to cost them more. That’s just not the case. I find better ways to do their jobs and that frequently results in lower costs. Plus I negotiate to get better bids so that I can create a margin that I can live on. Whether my customers went to the same sources for bids or use my service, they’ll pay roughly the same price.
Whether you are a broker or a captive sales rep, what are your thoughts? I’d like to know.
February 19th, 2011
Day 2, Bill Ruesch recession recovery diary
When I was a young salesman I was taught that “prospecting is like shaving–if you don’t do it everyday you’re a bum.” This quote is attributed to Jack Schwartz, the telephone sales guru.
In the pre-recession, business came to me through referrals. Sometimes I had to send customers elsewhere because I couldn’t handle them all. As a result, I haven’t made prospecting calls in twenty years! I think I’ve forgotten how to prospect, but it is obvious to me now that I’ve got to go out and beat the bushes for new customers. I was never very good at going door-to-door with business cards, calendars, and note pads. That seems to be a method best employed by quick print sales reps.
Asleep for 20 years?
You may have noticed that things have changed in the last twenty years. I feel a little like Rip Van Winkle. It wasn’t that I was asleep, I just didn’t have to deal with some of the harsher realities because my reputation carried me. With the onslaught of the recession everyone I know in the printing business has had a very difficult time.
Now the question is, how do I prospect in a way that boosts my reputation rather than damaging it? After all, I would like to come out of this stronger and not weaker than before. Would mixing it up in the fray of hungry printing sales reps put me in the category of a me-too supplier? In other words, how do I re-establish myself as more of a consultant instead of just another commissioned salesperson? Not that I hold anything against sales reps per se it is just that consultants earn more money. I got used to a six figure income and would like to have it back again.
February 18th, 2011
Day 1, Bill Ruesch recession recovery diary
You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting for awhile. I have to confess that this recession has knocked the wind out of my sails. You know what happens to a sailing ship when there is no wind. It’s stuck. I’ve been stuck.
Sparked an idea in me.
Just recently I caught the movie Julie and Julia on cable TV. The only saving grace for enduring a “chick-flick” was that it centered around cooking and food–two of my favorite things.
I liked the fact that Julie blogged daily about her experiences while trying to accomplish the feat of cooking 524 Julia Child French cooking recipes in a year, all the while balancing a full-time job, husband, and mother. Her mother was one of those challenging people who was critical of everything Julie did. Talk about pressure.
What does this have to do with printing? Nothing, except it sparked an idea. Why don’t I write a brutally honest diary of my efforts to climb out of the deep cavern that the recession put me in? Before any of you worry too much about me, I do have to say that we are doing okay. We cut expenses wherever we could and we’ve (my wife and I) have been adding additional revenue streams. No, it is not like it used to be. For around twenty years I could count on an annual six-figure income. Not anymore. So I either have to make it somewhere else or find ways to turn print brokering back into a profitable enterprise.
What I will do is day-by-day write about my thoughts, plans, efforts, and results. If you get some ideas from my blog that helps you turn your own recession-depression around feel free to share your comments so that others can be buoyed and energized.
Tally-ho! The future will be here tomorrow. If you don’t grab it somebody else will.