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Founder, Print Buyers International (PBI)

Margie's Buyer Insights

By Margie Dana

About Margie

Margie Dana, a former print buyer, is the founder of Print Buyers International (PBI) and its member-based organization, Boston Print Buyers. These professional organizations cater to print customers worldwide through education, an annual buyers conference, Print Buyer Boot Camps, and networking opportunities.

Margie's perhaps best known for her weekly enewsletter, Margie's Print Tips, which she's published weekly since 1999 in an effort to build bridges in the industry. For years, Margie has been a popular speaker at industry events here and abroad. Her clients include print company executives who rely on her to help steer their marketing campaigns and make their online efforts more customer friendly.


Three Shades of Selling, from Horrible to Great

It was a long day. We were on a mission, shopping for a necklace for a particular dress I'll be wearing for a special occasion this month. We visited three different jewelry departments in three swanky department stores: Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, and Saks.

The customer experience I had at each store was different—and it wasn’t until I hit Saks, where the saleswoman led the pack by miles—that I realized why she was so successful and why the first two failed.

Of course I can relate the experience to printing sales. Check it out.

Saleswoman number one clearly had the “I-don't-care-what-you-want” attitude. “I'm just here to make the sale.” She dutifully brought out pieces I pointed out. I swear that I was boring her. Even after I described the dress I was trying to match, she was less than enthused. She responded like so: “ .” Yes, that’s right; she said nothing.

I was talking to myself, I guess. There was no way I’d buy from her.

Saleswoman number two was much friendlier. Chatty, patient, answered all of my questions and she showed me several necklaces I liked. One or two pieces might've work, but still, I wasn't convinced.

It was saleswoman number three that got it right. She came over to me with a broad smile, asking, “How can I help you today?” That kicked off as pleasant a shopping experience as I’ve had in years. She was the only one to ask the key question: “What does your dress look like?” And...we were off!

Just so you don’t get the wrong idea, this was costume jewelry. We weren’t dropping big bucks on this purchase. Yet, she treated us as if we were purchasing the Hope Diamond. She asked if I’d brought a picture (I hadn't, but I found a photo on my smartphone and showed her). She took a lot of time listening and showing me samples. In the end, there were two terrific candidates, and thanks to her, I chose the ideal piece for the occasion.

I guarantee I wouldn’t have found it on my own, because it’s not my usual taste. Yet she listened, asked all the right questions, and came up with the perfect necklace.

Surely you see the connection with print sales. Long gone are the days when a sales rep can act like an order taker and expect to get new business by just being there. Get inside the customer's situation. With a few key questions, a genuine interest, and creative ideas about what your company can produce, you can impress a brand-new prospect to trust your judgment.

I don’t pretend it’s easy to sell printing these days. But I believe that every customer wants to be heard. Sometimes we don’t come right out and give you the whole story that would speed up the sales process. You have to almost tease it out of us, all the while listening and learning more about us.

Saleswoman number three found out very quickly the circumstances of my intended purchase to help her zero in on the best suitable pieces within my budget.

How would your sales reps stack up in the “new customer experience” department?

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