Do Print Buyers Lie?

For years, the number one complaint that I heard from printers about print buyers is “all they care about is price.” The pervasiveness of that comment surprised me because in the extensive work that I’ve done with major print buyers over the years, a printer having the lowest price is rarely the biggest factor in supplier selection. This made me suspect that perhaps print buyers aren’t always honest with their printers about why they weren’t awarded a project. That prompted the following survey:

In a Print Buyers Quick Poll of 82 top print buyers, buyers were asked “How often, if ever, do you tell a printer that they lost the job due to price as an easy answer, as opposed to the real reason why they weren’t awarded the job?” Respondents stated the following:

• 2% of print buyers said: “often”
• 57% of print buyers said: “sometimes”
• 41% of print buyers said: “never”

Almost 6 out of 10 buyers sometimes use the reason “your price is too high” as an easy answer instead of the real reason why the printer wasn’t awarded the job. There are myriad reasons why a buyer might tell this untruth – they don’t like the sales rep, they don’t trust the printer can do what they say they can do, company politics are forcing the buyer to give the job to someone else, etc.

One print buyer said he used this tactic “darn infrequently, but sometimes it’s just plain easier than going into the detailed reasons of why I chose one printer over another. I know it’s a ‘cop out’, but if the printer in question is one that I don’t necessarily feel comfortable with, I use this excuse as wiggle room.”

Another print buyer concurs: “We judge our printers on pricing, capabilities, knowledge/experience and gut instinct. I have a hard time telling a salesman, ‘your pitch is slimy.’ I’d rather tell him his pricing is off.”

Related Content
  • http://BobButkins Bob Butkins

    Uh – Perhaps I am slow, but your numbers do not make any sense to me. <br />
    ie:<br />
    You state 6/10 buyers using the easy answer of price -but your survey indicates 9%?? And your percentages only add up to 50%? <br />
    I would like to pass on this article to our Salesforce, but cannot without some clarification.<br />
    <br />
    <br />
    Regards,<br />

  • http://ElliotThostesen Elliot Thostesen

    Here it is again, the all important relationship issue. If a buyer is not answering with 100% honesty about the pricing, how can you tell? The answer is; know your customer, know their boss and know your competition, know your strengths and weaknesses as a sales rep. and those of your company. If you have a good handle on those 5 components then you should know with a high degree of certainty if the buyer is honest about pricing as the main reason for the decision. Also keep in mind that even if you are the low bid on a project, price still may be the key influencer if you or your company are a marginal fit for the production and it may not be worth the risk for the buyer to give it to you. Somtimes low but close just doesn’t cut it and the gap of getting the project is most likely your inability to connect you and or your company as the trusted experts. If you have the above 5 components under control then you should be in a position to probe the depth of the decision and confirm the issue of price vs. some other reason. But most important, if you do not have these 5 components under control then do not expect the buyer to guide you through the errors of your bid.

  • http://Joel Joel

    While I don’t think print buyers lie per se, they might not be telling you the whole truth. Often, I think that price is just an easier way to end the conversation even if there were other factors that came into making the decision. I can remember many times when price was an issue that had to be worked through to get to the sale. However, the buyer wanted the sale to go through. Absent the buyers desire for the sale, the stopping point became price. Bottom line is that if a buyer does not want the purchase, the sales process ends at the first hurdle, price. The way to avoid this is to simply ask the question at the beginning, "If I have the best price, is there any reason why we couldn’t do business?"

  • http://Dave Dave

    Having sold printing for over ten years and leaving the sales world behind years ago I understand this issue all to well. I remember being in a meeting with 10 or so other sales people on a rather large project in Boston. This happened during the film days before DTP. The job had been printed before and the company wanted to make changes and had the final film for this 4 color job. As the meeting progressed I mentioned that anyone that was awarded this job could do anything with the final film as it was all combined film. Only one other sales person understood what I was talking about and he had printed the job. So I asked him if his company was going to supply the working film so if one of us was awarded the job we could make the changes. That answer was NO. And he was awarded the job for corrections and the rest of us wasted our time that day. Today with electronic files is much easier to correct a print job. But I suspect that the indusrty has not changed much in this area as price this has a very heavy weight in a print buyers decision. Clearly back then my education in the indusrty was far superiour than most other sales people, but the jobs still came down to price even with my very good customers. A few of my friends are still trying to make a living selling printing and I still here from tham that PRICE RULES and these are people who do 250,00 per year with there customers.

  • http://SheilaThiery Sheila Thiery

    I find a survey regarding whether you lie or not ironic. If these buyers are suppose to have an important role and relationship with their printers and they lie to them, that tells me they would basically lie about anything. Which lends me to not believe the results of this survey. <br />
    Buyers…we’re all adults, let people know what the real reason is so your service, quality etc. can become better for YOU and stop wasting their time.

  • http://JB JB

    I am a Print Buyer with a large financial company, buying over $600k worth of printing a year. I have been doing this for over 12 years. While I admit I have used the "your price was high" lie, it is usually to a printing sales rep, who refuses to believe I would buy print on price alone, and wants to take me to lunch, or to a ballgame to figure out "where he needs to be price wise" in order to get a job. All the jobs I award always come down to lowest price. The important thing is my vendors know this. All jobs should be based on lowest price because my job as a print buyer is to getthe best possible price for each job I bid out. Also as a print buyer I should be only soliciting quotes from vendors who are:<br />
    1) Capable of producing the job, <br />
    2) Have the right equipment to run the job<br />
    3) Can "fit" the job in their plant, i.e. it is not too small or large of a job for them. <br />
    4) Most importantly trustworthy.<br />
    The vendors I work with, know this & respect this. This is the main reason why I rarely if ever need to be dishonest with any of them.<br />
    <br />
    <br />

  • http://SuzanneMorgan Suzanne Morgan

    Hi, Bob.<br />
    Thanks so much for catching the error on our posting. Here are the correct numbers:<br />
    * 2% of print buyers said: "often"<br />
    * 57% of print buyers said: "sometimes"<br />
    * 41% of print buyers said: "never"<br />
    Sorry for the inconvenience – and I hope that you do share these results now with your team!<br />

  • http://JD JD

    I have been in the selling game since the begining of my career and I have seen it all. Print Buyers generally are tough cookies to break when they have been dealing with their "trusted vendors" for a while. You can have all the right equipment, pricing, etc… but when it comes right down to it, they will not let you in the door till they have a need for you. My best advise is to just keep knocking on their door and one day their "trusted vendor" will have a fall out with them and that is when you will get the invite into the office…just make sure you have the goods to back up what you promise them.