Should I Go Over the Print Buyer’s Head?

The one question that I keep hearing from printers is whether or not someone with the title of “print buyer” is really the person the printing company should be targeting. Some printers ask, “Shouldn’t I just go over the buyer’s head and talk to the real decision maker—someone in marketing?” I feel that many people in the printing industry want one, “correct” answer to the question of, “Is it the print buyer or the marketing manager?”

The answer is that it depends! By comparison, purchasing agents have long gotten a bad rap as only being interested in price. Now, the same darts are being thrown at print buyers.

The truth is that the answer is much more nuanced. In one large insurance company I know, the director of purchasing is one of the most forward-thinking, strategic buyers that I know—concerned about both the return on investment for his company as well as the welfare of his core suppliers. At another company, the director of purchasing might be just chasing the lowest price.

I’ve found that every company is different and that it’s wise not to discriminate based on job title. It requires digging deep to understand the culture of the company and how it makes decisions. That’s the job of the sales rep and, to quote my former sales manager (I used to sell printing), “That’s why we pay you the big bucks!”

What’s been your experience?

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  • http://KimberleeSautter Kimberlee Sautter

    Well said, Suzanne. As the former Print Production Director of a mid-sized ad agency, I had sole authority to choose which suppliers to work with and I advised the marketing and design staff. However, in a similar role in smaller design studios, it was often the reverse, whereby the decision was often made by the President, the Marketing Director, the Senior Art Director or even by a third party altogether: the client!–K