What You Missed In Chapter 1:
If you missed my first blog, you won’t know much about me, or the experience I had during my internship last summer with SPC. To give a brief summary, I went through SPC’s well developed, 13 week rotational internship program. During that time, I worked in every department at SPC. I learned a lot and gained invaluable real world experience. SPC’s rotational program typically includes a short stint in the sales department. However, I showed specific interest in the department, and therefore I got to accompany Ryan LeFebvre (SPC’s EVP of Sales), on a 2 ½ day sales trip to the Big Apple, which was unforgettable. For more information on that trip, please read “SPC Sales Trip: An Intern in New York.” Following this trip, a conversation sparked between myself and SPC leadership, which resulted in me having the opportunity to return to SPC for a second lap and work as an “intern” yet again. This brings us to chapter two of our short story.
I have been back at SPC for the past eight weeks, working as a Sales Service Assistant. In this role, I assist six account executives in various ways, from working on requests for proposals and quoting jobs, to doing press checks and color oks with clients. The experience has been great, and every day has presented a new set of challenges. I have recently been working on a few research projects related to current USPS program launches, information on prospective clients, as well as new technology that SPC is purchasing; and how the company should be leveraging it to attract new customers and expand its relationships with existing customers. Working on these research projects led to a few opportunities, one of which I will cover in chapter 4.
In July, I was given the opportunity to travel with Joe Carte, one of SPC’s account executives around his territory in the Metro Detroit area for two action-packed days. During this time, we ran all over town, which was great. I got a true sense of what outside sales in the print world is like. I won’t detail the line by line agenda of the two day trek, but I will elaborate on some of the knowledge I gained. I learned print is still predominantly a relationship-selling industry, and it is vitally important to create and maintain strong relationships with your clients. Building these relationships requires time spent in and out of the office, sometimes over months or even years. I also learned that a successful salesperson has to be flexible and able to think on his/her feet. We had to approach every meeting differently, depending on the relationship we had developed with the client prior to the sit-down. Some clients we had great rapport with, others were not as welcoming. Some spent a lot of time with us, even allowing me to give a detailed account of my internship experience. Others were rushed and wanted to focus on something specific with little additional small talk. Our final stop was at a great restaurant and bar in Royal Oak, Michigan. It was an informal gathering with people from all different parts of the print industry such as mill representatives, paper distributors, and technology experts.
One of the previously mentioned research projects in Chapter 2, was to look into the organizational structure of an SPC client in Pennsylvania. I was tasked with researching how their organization makes purchasing decisions, as well as who to best approach in the organization on the ground floor. I created an organizational flow chart that described who was in each role at the company as well as who managed which accounts. A few members of our team then used this information as they planned a visit to the client. What resulted from this was an opportunity to travel to the East Coast for a quick overnight trip. To some, the idea of flying in and out of a town in 13 hours may be more work than its worth, but Pat’s and Geno’s cheesesteaks might change your mind in a hurry. Immediately after landing, we ordered an Uber to the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives featured restaurants and put them to the test against one another, and against a Chicago-style beef sandwich. The verdict? Geno’s is better than Pat’s, although Pat’s is the original. Also, Chicago-style beef, dipped, is still better than both. Following our late night beef sandwich adventure, we started the next day by reconnecting with a company we’ve been prospecting by dropping off a note and some samples, then it was on to the client I had researched. The main purpose of the visit was to give a presentation on Informed Delivery, and the current program running where marketers can save 2% on postage if they launch an Informed Delivery campaign. I prepared a portion of the presentation and was able to give it to an audience of 15 marketers. This was a phenomenal experience overall. It gave me an opportunity to grow my abilities as well as network with individuals who drive purchasing decisions in the industry.
In conclusion, my second lap around at SPC has been short and sweet. As I wrap up my time here this summer, I can say that the experiences I’ve had and the knowledge I’ve gained have given me clear insight into the print industry. These past eight weeks have sparked new interests in printing technology, as well as sales and business courses that I will be pursuing in school. I have one more year at Western Michigan University, before I enter the ever changing world we call print. I can safely say, I’ve never been more excited for my future career.
Intern, Sales Service Assistant