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Print Confessions

By Graphic Arts Professionals

About Print

Print Confessions is brought to you by Bill Farquharson and Kelly Mallozzi. Each week, read the thoughts of a different graphic arts professional who will share a point of view that can only be written anonymously, and then join in the conversation by posting a comment.

7 Things I'd Like Print Reps to Know

I often wonder about the training that printing sales reps get—or if some get any training whatsoever.

Is it more about training them in how to sell, or does understanding the customer enter into the equation? I sure hope the latter is the case.

I imagine a lot of reps get some informal training from their sales managers. The advice the get likely includes things like “go around the gatekeeper,” “they only care about price,” “promise them anything,” and “do a lot of cold calling—it works.”

But as a print buyer, I’d have different advice for reps.

1) Don’t you dare call me without knowing anything about me or my organization. If you DO call without knowing something about both of us, you’re wasting my time. I’ll remember you all right...and refuse to do business with you.

2) Make sure your company has a decent website. I’ll go right to your URL once you and I have a conversation, and I want to spend five to six minutes tops checking it out. If your site is dusty and dated, that’ll leave a bad impression immediately. Typos or bad grammar? You’re dead to me. And if it’s not immediately clear what you specialize in, you’ve lost me.

It should be easy enough, but why are so many sites dolled up these days? Can’t make hide nor hair of them.

3) I’m not sitting by my phone waiting for your call. (I haven’t done that EVER, BTW.) Our budgets are down, we’re printing smaller quantities, and I have a group of great printers I’m currently working with. You have to convince me you offer something I need. How you do that is your problem to solve.

4) I have no time to keep up with industry news and manufacturing trends. If you can provide that information, you get extra points.

5) Of course price matters; doesn’t it matter to you when you’re purchasing something?
So stop singing that same old tune and realize you have to be competitive in your pricing just to get your foot in the door.

6) Things that guarantee you’ll lose (or never get) my business include:

  • Lie to me.
  • Trick me.
  • Fail to tell me when a possible crisis looms (with my jobs).
  • Screw up an important job.
  • Be impossible to reach.
  • Make a politically incorrect comment.

7) There is no surefire sales approach that will guarantee you get my business.
You have to earn it. You have to know quite a bit about my organization’s needs and constraints when it comes to printing. You have to respect me. You have to listen to me.

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