Sales Relationships : Don’t Cut Out Print Buyers
It takes an advanced salesperson—Ph.D or master’s level equivalent, Farquharson muses—to convince a print buyer that your firm needs to demonstrate to the requisitioner just how much more value they can offer. Print buyers are territorial, he says, and want to maintain control. So how can it be done?
“That’s where salesmanship comes in, and I think it’s a matter of trust,” Farquharson remarks. “When dealing with a buyer, I can quote a job, but the best way for me to help a client is to understand how the printed piece works. There are two costs associated with any printed piece: the cost of buying it, and the cost of using it. Every print sales rep on the planet focuses on the purchase price. The ones who are selling profitably are focusing on the usage costs.
“The skilled salesperson can convince a print buyer that he/she has an idea that will either reduce the usage cost of the document or increase its value. You can only learn that by talking to the requisitioner. So, it’s in the print buyer’s best interest to let me speak to the requisitioner of the document.”
Margie Dana, president of Print Buyers International and the unofficial industry guru for print buyers, is sympathetic to the plight of printers and fully understands the desire to market themselves on a marketing plateau. But under absolutely no circumstances, she contends, should a sales rep circumvent the buyer.
“It’s a contentious topic,” Dana admits. “If the print buyers who source the print are not making those (marketing) decisions or are strictly involved with printed materials, then printers who have significantly more services to offer might have a hard time getting someone to listen if they stick with the print production unit.”
Still, a majority of corporate print buyers have the final say over who gets the job, Dana notes. And to go around the buyer is to risk getting shut out entirely. With few exceptions, she points out that most managers of print buyers a) generally don’t know much (if anything) about printing; and b) don’t want to be involved in sourcing work. Part of the print buyer’s job is to know how to place work appropriately.