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Print Confessions

By Graphic Arts Professionals

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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.

Three Reasons a Client Chooses Us (Hint: Price Is NOT One of Them)

Not to brag or sound arrogant, but my customers really love us.

Do we offer the lowest prices? Nope.

Are we even CLOSE to the lowest price? Uh, uh.

In fact, the comments we often get are along the lines of, “You were more than twice the winning bid.” Good, then I didn’t make a mistake in the pricing.

Does my company win on price? We do not. In fact, if we DO win on price, I realize we’ve made a mistake in the estimate and go into panic mode.

Do we lose a lot of bids? Yup, we do. Our hit rate is about 50-50 for estimates.

Why, then, is my company busy and successful?

Because ALL clients aren’t ALWAYS looking for the low bid.

My emphasis is important here: every client is not right for my company, every job isn’t the right fit, and some jobs do, indeed, require a low bid.

How, then, do we earn our business?

• Reason #1: Competence and Confidence

We have an extremely knowledgeable, intelligent and experienced staff in every position at the company. We are comfortable with what we do, and know we do a great job. That confidence shines through in every piece of communication with our clients—every phone call, voice mail message and email—all delivered in the same, “We’ve got your back and can handle this” tone. If you had an important job to manufacture, wouldn’t you want your vendor to exude that vibe?

• Reason #2: Great Listening Skills

Active listening involves reading between the lines of what your client is actually saying. What is she implying when she says, “It’s really important that my job be delivered on time.” It could be, “I will lose my job if this doesn’t show up when promised.” Or, it could be a confession that, “The last time I ordered this from someone else, they totally flubbed it.”

Once you can be like Dr. Cal Lightman from the “Lie to Me” TV show and can understand the things your clients are NOT saying, you will have the proverbial keys to the kingdom.

• Reason #3: Be Honorable and Responsive

In other words, live up to your promises. Do what you say you are going to do. Communicate all the time. Follow up right away. Treat people as you would like to be treated. Walk the walk. (If you don’t want to work with price shoppers, try not to be one yourself. Don’t be a hypocrite.)

Of course, you have to do everything else right, too:
  • offer the correct product mix,
  • have up-to-date equipment,
  • produce great quality,
  • be easy to work with, and
  • have a current and functional website.

Those things are just a ticket to the dance. If you want to be the belle of the ball, follow my three suggestions. Just don’t do it if you are my competition.

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