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Why Customers Walk Away —Morgan

September 2008
EVER WONDER why that once-great customer no longer returns your phone calls? Get the feeling that you’ve been kicked out, but you don’t know why? It’s no wonder that printers experience this mysterious disappearing act, as close to 50 percent of print buyers say they quietly walk away with no explanation.

In June, we asked our major print buyers, “If you decide to stop using a print supplier, how do you end the working relationship?” Of the 70 participants: Fifty-three percent of print buyers said, “I am usually direct with them. I tell the supplier that I’m not planning to work with them again, and I tell them why.” Forty-seven percent said, “I usually just avoid them and stop sending them bids to quote on.”

While some print buyers are willing to be direct with what went wrong, here’s a few tips on how you can avoid getting to that breaking point with the other half.

Prep Your Rep. Print buyers demand more from sales reps than they did just a few years ago. They are expected to understand the nuances of marketing, financial impacts on print promotions and deliver bottom-line solutions. When your customers feel that they don’t have the right liaison, you could be losing business.

“I stopped working with a vendor because the sales rep was continually not following through with his jobs,” indicated one survey respondent. “There were late estimates, untrue job status statements and unfulfilled promises. I also have had a few different sales reps who never submitted the estimates that were promised, with no apologies or follow through. This occurred mainly with vendors that I was considering trying. It’s too bad—the company samples seemed great, but the employees stunk. Maybe I should have complained to their superiors, but I just let it go.”

Since sales reps are the key builders of intimacy, trust, and communication between the printer and the print buyer, it’s crucial that the sales rep is the right fit for the buying company.

Ask for Feedback. Establish frequent and open communication with your buyers and request feedback for past jobs. Ask how your company can improve and what changes they would like to see. Learn what’s working, and what isn’t. Print buyers will share their thoughts with you, if you just ask the right questions.

“I always find it best to be direct with a supplier,” contributes Gary Hansen, a vice president/production director. “If I tell a vendor that I am ending my relationship with them, it would not have been the first time I spoke to them about having a problem. The supplier would have seen it coming.”
 

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