Who's the Boss?
If you promise not to tell anyone else, I'll let you in on a little secret: an easy way to impress your print customers is to show them who's boss.
I'm not kidding. Customers feel more appreciated, more valued if the company brass makes itself known to them.
You may be the most experienced, most successful print sales rep on the face of the earth, but unless you are also the company president, your star doesn't shine as brightly as that of the Big Cheese.
Back when I was a corporate print buyer for a mutual fund company here in Boston, I worked with several financial printers. Two of them stand out in my mind (and were favorites back then), partly because the presidents of each firm knew me and treated me with professional respect and appreciation.
George H. Dean of Braintree, MA, was a major print partner of ours for decades. I worked directly with the owner and president, the late Earle Michaud. Did I feel special? You betcha.
We also did a lot of work with the now-defunct Daniels Printing of Everett, MA. Although I was fortunate to work with one of the best salesman anywhere, I also knew one of the owners, Mr. Lee Daniels. His taking the time to chat with me whenever I was on press translated into "your business means a lot to me."
Since commercial print quality is more or less the same anywhere you go today, I suggest that printing firms find ways to add value to their client experiences, in ways large (ancillary services) and small (be personable).
How much does it cost a company to have the president call top customers once or twice a year, just to say hello — and thanks? A handwritten note (emphasis on handwritten) from the president would also go a long way in client relations.
When possible, management should come out to the pressroom and say hello to customers on press or on their first facility tour.
Of course, a printing company's management team needs to be identified on its Website. Pictures, though optional, are a nice touch as well.
So if you are a print company owner/president, make sure your sales team alerts you about plant tours and press OKs, particularly those of your key clients. Clear your schedule for a few minutes, and come out, from wherever you are, and make it personal. We customers love that.