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President, Print Oasis Print Buyers Conference

Connecting with Print Buyers

By Suzanne Morgan

About Suzanne

Suzanne Morgan is president of the annual Print Oasis Print Buyers Conference (www.printoasis.com) and Print Buyers Online.com, a free educational e-community for print buyers and their print suppliers (www.printbuyersonline.com). PBO has more than 11,000 members who buy $13 billion a year in printing. PBO conducts weekly research on buying trends and teaches organizations how to work more effectively with their print suppliers.

 

Sales Reps: Can’t Live With Them; Can’t Live Without ’em

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Print buyers love to complain about printing sales reps that don’t make the grade—annoying guys (and gals) who are clueless, arrogant, slimy, or are just a pain in general. On the other hand, print buyers also are the biggest supporters of worthy sales reps.

In a PBO Quick Poll, Print Buyers Online.com asked 83 top print buyers: “How much of the decision to work with a print supplier is based on the sales rep that handles your account?” Interestingly, three out of four print buyers (76%) said that “whether the sales rep is the right fit and provides value is a huge part of the decision to work with a particular print supplier.” Only 24% said “It’s nice to have a good sales rep, but the sales rep isn’t a big part of the decision to work with a particular print supplier.”

One print buyer put it this way: “The print sales rep is the glue that connects the client, designer and the folks inside the printing plant. We select printers based on quality and price and ‘deselect’ them based on poor service—which almost always translates into print rep quality.”

Another print buyer offered this advice: “Sales reps must offer a compelling reason to use their services from the start. I place a high value on enthusiasm. There are many times when pricing is so close that it is my call which vendor to award the job to. If the rep has asked questions about the job and truly shown me that he/she is interested in producing the job, I will award it to the most engaged rep. It is usually these same reps that follow up with a phone call and ask ‘Is there anything else I can do to be awarded the job?’ I also value honesty. A seasoned buyer will always know when the printer is not telling the truth. Even when we need to hear bad news, we appreciate hearing it as soon as it happens so we’re able to align the expectations of our clients.”

In the eyes of the print buyer, the sales rep IS the printing company. What are your thoughts on this?

www.PrintBuyersOnline.com

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COMMENTS

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Most Recent Comments:
Elliot Thostesen - Posted on August 23, 2007
Having been on both sides of the street in managing a large print budget and then managing a large sales team, I agree that the sales rep. is the printing company. The make or break decision for many buyers, stems largely from knowing that your sales rep. is your voice when issues arise and that they will "go to bat" for you when the chips are down. As a sales manager, I know that the production capabilities of any shop is how you make it to the short list for buyers. From there it is $$$ and it is the confidence in the front end staff (Sales and Customer Serice) that draws the line for the printer in having a customer or having a prospect. Buyers buy based on confidence. Confidence that the job will produced as planned, ontime, within budget and as expected for quality. The front end staff is the first line of communication and is the door from which the confidence cycle begins. If your prospects can not pass through that door you will never get the work into the shop.
David Schwalje - Posted on August 20, 2007
Making the complex simple, that is the job of a good sales rep. As production workflow and business process workflow continues to change our industry, good sales reps will continue to position themselves where they are needed the most. Print broker entrepreneurs and sales reps that specialize in micro versioning and database driven print sell the best when they sell what comes before the printing and what comes after the printing.
Click here to view archived comments...
Archived Comments:
Elliot Thostesen - Posted on August 23, 2007
Having been on both sides of the street in managing a large print budget and then managing a large sales team, I agree that the sales rep. is the printing company. The make or break decision for many buyers, stems largely from knowing that your sales rep. is your voice when issues arise and that they will "go to bat" for you when the chips are down. As a sales manager, I know that the production capabilities of any shop is how you make it to the short list for buyers. From there it is $$$ and it is the confidence in the front end staff (Sales and Customer Serice) that draws the line for the printer in having a customer or having a prospect. Buyers buy based on confidence. Confidence that the job will produced as planned, ontime, within budget and as expected for quality. The front end staff is the first line of communication and is the door from which the confidence cycle begins. If your prospects can not pass through that door you will never get the work into the shop.
David Schwalje - Posted on August 20, 2007
Making the complex simple, that is the job of a good sales rep. As production workflow and business process workflow continues to change our industry, good sales reps will continue to position themselves where they are needed the most. Print broker entrepreneurs and sales reps that specialize in micro versioning and database driven print sell the best when they sell what comes before the printing and what comes after the printing.