Size Does Matter in Buying Behavior

(Blog #11 in the ongoing series derived from a book Harris DeWese wrote several years ago—“A Year of Selling Profitably.” The book was written for printers to use as a guide in training their sales teams through a series of two-hour sessions over 48 weeks.)

Companies with sales of more than $100 million tend to be procedural. They have rules. They are bureaucratic and decision-making is delegated. They often have purchasing agents, perhaps even purchasing personnel who just specialize in graphic arts. Large companies are usually more price-sensitive and tend to view graphic arts as a commodity, but the runs are longer and their needs are substantial and more predictable.

Some large companies have a decentralized organizational structure; managers at various locations might have a high degree of purchasing authority. Centralized or not, big companies often have large graphics departments and rigid graphic standards that require consistency in all of their imaging.

Buyers in large companies tend to be sophisticated and often have graphic arts schooling and degrees from the likes of RIT or the University of South Carolina. Many have in-depth knowledge of the latest technology and will challenge your product knowledge.

Medium-sized companies—with sales of $20 million to $100 million—are less rigid, so the CEO and senior management are more accessible to the aspiring prospector. These managers are closer to the day-to-day decision making than their large company counterparts.

Small companies—in the $1 million to $20 million range—are entrepreneurial. Though they account for the majority of new company startups, they also file for bankruptcy more often than medium-sized and large companies.

Companies with less than $1 million in annual sales are the countless small-business people who operate everything from retail shops to small graphic arts companies. In these companies, the CEO makes most of the decisions. Graphic arts producers are not viewed as commodities, and the decision maker is often seeking a salesperson to add value through consultative assistance.

Harris DeWese is the author of "Now Get Out There and Sell Something." He is chairman/CEO at Compass Capital Partners and an author of the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of info regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed 100-plus printing company transactions and is viewed as the preeminent deal maker in the industry. He specializes in investment banking, M&A, sales, marketing and management services to printers.

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