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Gaining Sales Advantages —Morgan

February 2008
IN TODAY’S market, there is an overwhelming selection of print suppliers from which to choose. As more and more new technologies become available and the printing industry diversifies, traditional sales methods are becoming less effective—and less efficient—with the new breed of print buyers. Gone are the days of cold calls and fruit baskets.

So what can give a print supplier the competitive advantage in today’s market?

At Print Buyers Online.com (PBO), we set out to answer this question by polling major print buyers. One of our Quick Poll surveys confirmed 68 percent of people agreed with the following statement: “Most print sales reps believe price is the primary criteria for a printing company to be awarded a job.” But how has this belief become the industry standard when extensive surveys conducted by PBO yield different conclusions? When asked why a particular supplier is chosen, could it be buyers said it came down to price because that is the easiest answer to give? In truth, the reason is much more intangible and complex.

PBO is in the unique position of representing both sides of the buyer/supplier fence. Due to this, our members feel comfortable sharing the real reasons behind their decision-making processes. After hearing several versions of “most of the time, a good working relationship with the sales rep is a huge factor in working with a print supplier on a regular basis,” we decided to delve deeper to determine what characteristics go into choosing a new printer.

To do so, several surveys were conducted of major print buyers, designers and marketers that work for printers. The questionnaires addressed the process a print buyer goes through when selecting a new supplier. The results revealed a very interesting fact: The majority of survey respondents said much of it depends upon the relationship they foresee having with a sales rep. As one of our members put it, “I choose a print supplier that has the capabilities to do my work, and it is the sales rep who articulates those capabilities. A rep needs to provide good communication, get back to me in a timely manner and be a total partner in the project.”

With this in mind, here are some tips from our print buyer members on how sales reps can fine tune their skill sets to gain credibility and maintain customer loyalty:

• Don’t drop by unexpectedly. Seventy-one percent of print buyers said it is not appropriate for printing sales reps to “drop by” in an attempt to circumvent scheduling an appointment. Most print buyers believe this behavior shows a lack of respect for their time—and a lack of professionalism on the part of the salesperson.
 

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