Postal Service VP of sales Cliff Rucker this morning expressed hope that the 2015 slate of price promotions will kick off as scheduled in May. Registration periods for the Earned Value and Emerging Technology promotions were to have begun April 1, but none of the four promotions on this summer’s calendar has received approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission. Not only has the PRC twice kicked back market dominant price proposals to USPS, but the entire industry still awaits word from the D.C. District Court of Appeals on whether the exigent price increase will become permanent, or be phased out as planned.
“We are going to try to resolve at the next board of governors meeting why we can’t separate the promotions from the rate approvals,” Rucker told members of the American Catalog Mailers Association at their annual forum in Washington. “I’m asking the board to make a resolution to have the promos go on as planned. If you keep it separate, you don’t interrupt their momentum.”
Rucker also voiced the opinion that the traditional six-month window for promotions is too short to elicit maximum participation. “In the future, we need to run them for one to two years to give companies an opportunity to get in and get out. By the time some are ready to jump in, the promotions are gone,” Rucker said.
Rucker also detailed an effort to make his 1,100 sales reps—400 dedicated to direct mail—more responsive to individual customer needs by hooking in with Salesforce.com. Responding to a comment from Quad/Graphics’ VP of Postal Affairs Joe Schick that many mailers lack direct relationships with USPS salespeople and are forced to find their own answers, Rucker agreed and said it was something the new CRM technology was meant to address.
“Customers would have a problem and call the [Business Service Network] and sales never saw it,” Rucker said. “Now Salesforce is giving us a 360-degree view of the customer and they will see it. We are also using predictive analytics to anticipate these problems as part of our new sales retention effort.”
Catalogers had hoped Rucker might introduce a prospecting discount that would enable them to do larger mailings to prospects off their house lists and thereby build business for themselves and USPS. They were disappointed, but Rucker left them with hope for the near future.
“We’re really close. I’ve made presentations about it to [Postmaster General] Megan Brennan and the executive leadership team, but there are two things I have to get back to them with,” Rucker said, while acknowledging the value such a rate would deliver to the Post Office.
“We have agreement from finance that the Postal Service would achieve more contribution and volume from catalogers” through a prospecting rate, said Rucker, adding that a test using third-party data measurements would be necessary.