Like most people, on January 4th, 2010, I returned to work after the long holiday weekend. As I booted up my computer and opened my new 2010 desk calendar I realized it was also my anniversary. On a Monday, 22 years ago, I began my career in commercial print sales. I was 28 years old. I could take this moment to blather on about where the time went and how fast it has gone by, but I won’t. It’s cliche’. What I’d really like to do is tell you some stories about my years in the printing industry. I’ll start with a little background information.
Prior to direct sales I worked for a print broker. Then I did a stint in a small shop off Motor Street that actually had equipment. There I listened and asked questions. I took an estimating class from Joe Polanco, who, by the way is still with PIA MidAmerica, here in Dallas. After 14 months of what I now look back on as an “internship,” I went to work in customer service with a well-known financial printer. That was in 1987, and if you’re old enough you’ll recall, that October the market took a steep dive and for the first time in my life I was laid off. After some soul-searching (I think everyone does that after a lay-off) I decided to take a try at outside sales. That was the only job I was going to search for. Nothing else…it was time.
Well, interviewing was tight as the job market. I didn’t have a professional sales background unless you counted four years of retail sales. I used that and my knowledge of the prepress and press impositions and landed a job that would start in the new year of 1988. I walked in nervous and all, got my desk and a contact book and a log to fill out everyday of telephone calls. I made 100 calls a day at least. Blabbed the same information over and over. That’s what it took back then. Contact, talk, get appointments. Once I got an appointment I’d drive over to introduce myself, my company and try to figure out if we had a match with their need and our equipment. I represented a 40″ shop (nothing smaller) so the jobs had to be pretty big. Thankfully I had a sales manager who kept the owners from firing me a few times for lack of sales. It was because he could prove it wasn’t because of lack of effort. There’s a difference. It took nearly four months for me to make my first sale. In about six months I was selling enough to at least keep my job.
I’m not going to tell you that I’m a super sales person and I’ve made so much money you should listen to what I have to say. I’m just going to tell you stories that I think can help anybody who is involved in the process of commercial printing. The artists, designers, production techs, account manager, owners, buyers. We all have a story, but I’m not sure if you’ve heard mine.