How to Get an Appointment with a Print Buyer

As a print buyer for a marketing company, I appreciate the fact that it’s important to be available and open to meeting new vendors. With a busy schedule and deadlines to meet, it’s not always easy to accommodate requests for appointments, but I strongly feel that it’s important to be open to new vendors relationships. It’s an important part of my job in making sure that me and my clients are open to all the resources available in the print arena.

My first contact from new vendors is generally by phone. I usually ask that an introductory email be sent restating the person’s name, with a brief description of the company he/she is representing, a website address and, most importantly, a list of equipment and capabilities. Getting information about certifications (ex. FSC and G7) your company has earned is important information as well. In addition, any references that can be provided are a plus when sending over the company’s bona fides.

Once the information is received, my goal is to respond to inquiries within 24 hours. I will provide more information about my company, including our website address, and information about the type of printing I and my company buy and what we’re looking for in a prospective partnership with a new vendor.

If the vendor’s capabilities are compatible with needs that we have, then I’ll ask for samples to be sent to me for review. These samples are then reviewed by the entire print buying team. Getting samples ahead of time is a plus, so we can review them internally; this gives the team a chance to have a frank, round table discussion and decide if we want to invite the vendor in for further dialogue.

Once the equipment and capability list have been reviewed and samples received, we will then bring the vendor in for a brief appointment to further discuss the company and to see if we can work together to meet the needs of our clients.

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  • Patrushka

    No offense, but this article does not tell me how to get an appointment with a print buyer. This article tells me how one print buyer treats potential print service providers.

  • Not buying it

    I agree with Patrushka. Also, there is no way this is reality. I have yet once gotten this kind of treatment in 10 years from a buyer! This blogger might as well said they don’t buy just on price too!! This is how buyers want to perceive themselves, but in reality rarely any of them answer the phone and most ignore emails. I’m sorry to be negative, but I honestly wouldn’t want to work with this buyer either. Anyone interested in an equipment list and samples is an antiquated buyer and a roadblock for me to help. My equipment or hand selected print samples says nothing about my company or how I can help their organization.

  • Markting Director/Ghost Blogge

    Wow, Print Buyer/Ghost Blogger!!! I though I was the only one ticking off the sales reps – LOL!! I can’t tell if they don’t like us, or just don’t believe us…or maybe both!!

    Hang in there!
    Marketing Director/Ghost Blogger

  • ‘Eddie

    What else would you like handed to you today?
    Use this a roadmap to set yourself apart from the others.

  • Oscar Mayer

    I agree with Patrushka. There are hundreds of ways it could work. The best technique I have ever heard is, always give the buyer a "valid business reason" to call you back or meet with you. Not easy. You determine this by research of the prospect. One size does not fit all. Then alternate phone and email follow up days or weeks apart until you are sure you’ve gotten through.

  • Print Fairy

    Props to the print buyer if he/she actually ANSWERS THE PHONE! That’s the biggest road block in my opinion–just getting past voicemail. The process that is described sounds fairly typical among buyers.

  • Helen Hughes

    Seems to be the proverbial "Prefect" pitch and Perfect sale from a Perfect Salesman to a reactive and Perfect buyer. Real life is that the buyer doesn’t pick up the phone for at least 5 messages, emails sometimes work, but again MULTIPLE emails, and I find that most buyers are not really receptive to New Vendors unless they are being pushed on Price or have recently had Bad Service. Nice Theory, but don’t see it being this easily practical.

  • Print Fairy

    I agree Helen, most print buyers, especially those in marketing or advertising, have their preferred printers and will not deviate. It’s part laziness on their end, but it’s also due to the fact that their printers have cultivated "loyalty" toward them. I think that’s accomplished by providing them with consistent quality, meeting deadlines, and having a rep that follows up with them on a regular basis.

  • Print Executive

    Who in the world are you fooling? If you did what you said, then you are in the .001 minority. Print buyers today are some of the most difficult people that ever lived and in many cases, the least educated on what is truly going on in the marketplace. You are all POLR (Path Of Least Resistance). You resort to price and turn on all jobs. If you even gave a salesperson a crumb, it’s simply to keep your incumbents on their toes with pencils sharpened to .0007 fine. Quite frankly, print buyers are out of touch with reality. 99% of them have no clue as to what technology offers and thus they continue to go with the incumbents. We all know you need to keep your job and the only kudos you get are from some bean counter nerd who pats you on the butt when you bend the vendor over a table and force him to bid no profit on a job just to get a quote consideration. If you were true to your word, I could continue to hire empty suits to call on you. All they would have to do is give you their contact info, an email, some of our best samples and you would give them face time. Bunk!!! I’m interviewing James Bond’s brother and considering paying an undercover employee to get hired on as a print buyer to sit next to you and steal some of your thunder.Get real. You are so out of touch.

  • John Paul

    As a Large-Format Litho & Digital print salesman, I wouldn’t have a problem with the process that "print buyer" laid out. BUT:

    1) Most buyers will not answer or return a call. Some companies will not even tell you who the buyer is, or share their email or phone number. They usually tell you this right after you get done reading the sign in the lobby about how they respect that vendors and want to "partner" to find new opportunities.

    2) I sell large format litho up to 81" and digital up to 96". This isn’t something you can slip into a #10 envelope. Some of the work, really requires some explanation that can be handled much better in a meeting.

    3) If a buyer answers the phone or returns a call, you could both determine pretty quickly if there was reason or willingness to have further contact. Any rational salesperson would leave it alone if there was no fit.

    4) When buyers go to purchasing-agent school, does anyone explain that sales people choose prospects/targets because we think we have something to offer. Certainly, we may be misinformed about their needs. If they would communicate with us to that end, we’d move on to a more beneficial lead and clear their in-boxes for more productive activities.

  • Joseph Zilinski

    While I can appreciate the "process" that this particular buyer is describing, I will state that it isn’t "Real"… I have been selling print (all forms) for well over 10 years. The unfortunate truth is the relationship gets you the quote opportunity, not the business. Loyalty is only as good as the last job and quote, if you have a really good relationship, you may get the opportunity to take the project for the lowest price. Many print companies have unfortunately been put out of business with the hopes that volume at the slimmest margins will win over in the end… Sadly, it just ends..

    I tend to over service my clients (ie: color correct logos you know are wrong for the designer (and ultimately your client so they are getting consistent quality)).

    Printing is never going back to how it was in the 80’s, but does it really need to be "on demand" with no profit? Sooner or later, the choices and personal service will be removed from printing — then what will you need print buyers for — hello Ebay :)