Why I Threw You Over

Hey, print sales rep. I’m sorry that it had to end this way. I really am. We’ve done business for long time and I am genuinely sad. But before you go, do you want to know why you really got the boot?

Yes, your price was too high and you can blame me if you like. Go ahead and tell your boss what a jerk I am and that all I care about is price, price, price—if that helps you sleep at night.

But the guy you REALLY need to blame is the one who looks back at you in the mirror. He’s the one that made the assumption that I didn’t need anything just because we were cruising along and placing reorders. He didn’t ask. He just believed that I’d keep sending him P.O.s.

So, what happened?

One day I received an interesting voice mail message. It was one of 50 to 60 that hit my machine on any given day, but this one had an interesting comment in it: “When was the last time your existing sales rep brought you a new idea?”

Though it wasn’t from your competitor, or even a printing sales rep, I took notice. As you know, I call you when I need something. You are great—or, were—don’t get me wrong. Service, delivery, follow up. All fine.

But that voice message got me to thinking about the last time you called me with a new idea and nothing was coming to me. So, I made a vow that I’d take an appointment with the next printing sales rep who used the phrase “new ideas,” while I waited for you to wake up and call me.

It took a while, but I heard the magic words and called this one rep back. She was amazing, asking me some of the same basic questions that you once asked me, back when you were fighting your way into my office for an appointment. One of her questions spawned an idea and, well, here we are.

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  • Anna Johnson

    Love this!

  • Warren Seidel

    Great post! A reminder to all print salespeople that paper can be a great way to discuss "what’s new" with a client! Your local, friendly paper merchant can help with samples, dummies, joint calls and suggestions to save.

  • Sales Rep

    Bad disguise, Bill…but point taken! :)

    I do have to say though, buyers really aren’t receptive to ideas as we all hope. They’re reacting just like most everyone else and at the end of the day, they’re probably not getting the respect internally to have any influence. That being said, buyers probably don’t want to hear my ideas anyway. My ideas involve making things more automated and efficient which eliminate work from their plate and in essence their job!

  • dont agree

    I don’t agree that a 20% price drop means I have been stealing from the customer. I probably won that work through competitive bid, and found ways to improve my efficiency through hard work. Not passing along those savings to the customer results in what we call profit. Apparently this is a dirty word to some print buyers.

    Seriously, if we have to be the lowest price on each order for each customer, then we are already on our way out of business. I have many salespeople and to give them the instruction to always lower our price when we are making a profit on a job would result in us closing our company.

    It’s bad enough that our industry is already in a race to the bottom. Please don’t "train" people to lead that race.

    I hate posting anonymously since that goes against my grain, but I don’t want to have a personal argument with every printer person who disagrees. I respect all those that disagree, but my personal opinion is that this post is wrong-headed.


    Sales Rep. I take offence to your entire statement. Automation and efficiency will not eliminate my job, but it may eliminate my need for YOU. I purchase DM at such great quantities, that I would prefer to be a house account. Why should you receive a commission if the only thing you ever bring me is an invoice. You guys take an account like mine for granted and I too am tired of being treated like I should be grateful that you provide bother to call once a month. When I get 4 quotes and three of the quotes differ by less than 2 percent, while yours is 15% higher, I am forced to ask myself, “what exactly do you bring to the table?” As noted in the article above, nothing lately. So don’t blame the buyer/traffic manager; Start acting as a consultant and become a true partner, not just a word you use when your boss is on a call with you. I find it very funny that you make those statements under the name "Sales Rep". I wonder what your book of business looks like these days. Wow, based on the tone of my message, it is a good thing it’s Friday. 

  • CanonKelly

    Bill – sounds like somebody thinks WE write these things – which I can assure you all is NOT true – I t takes a lot of wrangling to get all these guests to write these blogs anonymously – trust us. We’re in sales.

  • Jim Albany

    Great reminder to not take the business for granted!

  • Jim Kile

    As a sales rep in the print industry I find this story a bit outside. Every customer is somewhat different in that needs change based on the industry served.
    I have a great relationship with one of the worlds largest flexible packaging companies. In fact my company used to work with one of their largest locations. During a major print campaign we were sent files to produce image carriers. They actually produced all of the pre-press in house and all we needed to do was to verify the pre-press was correct and than make the image carriers. A number of mistakes were uncovered on our end that would of cost this company thousands of dollars in re-makes and down press time. The mistakes were caught and the plant manager thanked us for catching them.
    In the end the jobs ran great, on time and the printers customers loved the work that everyone did. I’m telling you this story because in the end we lost the business at this location. The plant manager along with Corporate purchasing said that overall our prices were to high. So what’s the cost of not catching those mistakes??? Obviously there are customers who only value the invoice price. Sad but true.