And She Quietly Walks Away…How Print Buyers Leave Printers

If you are like most printers, a certain percentage of your customer base at one time or another has simply and mysteriously stopped doing business with you – no explanation given. Sometimes it’s a sharp drop off that makes you sit up and take note. More often the work just slowly dwindles down until it finally dawns on you that the customer is gone. If you are scratching your head over a few accounts that are M.I.A, consider this oddity: Sometimes the closer the relationship you have with a customer, the less likely the print buyer will criticize your company.

In general, print buyers don’t handle confrontation with aplomb. And if they like you personally, it may be harder for them to give you bad news or point out the error in your ways. Print Buyers conducted a poll with 84 major print buyers that cast some light on this topic. We asked print buyers: “If you decide to stop using a print supplier, how do you end the working relationship?” Fifty percent of respondents said “I am usually direct with them. I tell the supplier that I’m not planning to work with them again and I tell them why.” However, the other 50 percent said “I usually just avoid them and stop sending them projects to quote on.” If these statistics are reflective of your business, that means that half the time you don’t know what your company is doing that is unsatisfactory. You may not know what to fix.

Do you measure customer defection? If so, how? What’s been your experience?

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  • http://JimBoyd Jim Boyd

    When I was buying print, I based my purchasing power on 3 things, Cost, Quality and I feel the most important was how I got along with my contact. If the contact was an honest person, they received more order. If the contact was like 80 percent of the print salespeople I know, they received less and less work. Most of the salespeople I delt with belittled, betrayed and whined, "how come I didn’t get the order?". <br />
    "It would be nice if you knew what you were doing"<br />
    etc. etc. Speaking as an ex buyer, who wouldn’t mind teaching that 80 percent some manners.<br />
    Thank You

  • http://ElliotThostesen Elliot Thostesen

    This situation can be a tricky one. Sometimes personalities just do not match-up well and although you may think there is no problem with your customer, they could be hiding their real feelings and not be comfortable in working with a given sales rep. This is where it becomes extremely important that management and or ownership of the company be involved with valued customers on a regular basis. There needs to be a safety valve established to give freedom to the buyer and or the manager of the buyer to explore service related issues. No business relationship remains the same. Technology changes, management changes, competition changes so it is natural and normal for customer relationships to change. Because our industry is dynamically changing no one person can give full attention and or adequate coverage to the response our customers have to these changes. More eyes on the relationship the better chance there is for retaining the business in the future.