How to Make a Sale: A Print Buyer Weighs In
When I Tour Your Facility:
- Some of the things I'm going to notice are the neighborhood; the condition of the building and the parking lot; how clean the reception area and plant floor are; how shiny the equipment is; how the paper and ink are kept; and how the work is handled, moved and stored. I'm going to pay attention to the employees, to get a vibe on how they feel about working there. Don't assume there's an aspect or detail I won't notice or won't care about.
- Show me your entire workflow from start to finish—from where paper is stored to where finished jobs ship out.
- Introduce me to the receptionist, press operators, CSRs, bindery workers, prepress, the mailing department, cleaners, drivers and anyone else that would handle my jobs or talk to me.
- Arrange with the shop's owner to either accompany us or sit down with me afterwards. Once I meet the owner (unless there's an emergency), he or she should be with me until I leave the building. If not, I'll feel like I'm being ditched.
- Make sure it's on a busy day. A ghost town is not going to make a good impression.
- It's not necessarily expected, but if we start or finish within an hour either way of noon—and I've driven a long way—consider offering me lunch. If I can't make it, I'll appreciate the gesture. If I can, make it very average. Bringing me back a sandwich from the local greasy spoon is cheap, just as taking me to a five-star steakhouse is overkill.
So now, your foot is in the door, and I like what I see. It's time to check out your pricing.
When I Send You an Estimate Request:
- I may not be able to send you specs on a current job, but I'll be happy to send you a past job to let you know where your pricing lands and give you feedback.
- Not reading the specs clearly and making mistakes at this stage is a great way to make a bad impression.
- Treat it as if it were a real job. Ask the same questions, make the same suggestions, do the same diligence and submit it on time.
- There is a difference between being the lowest bidder and a competitive one, although it's possible to be both.
- Prices that are super high/low raise a red flag. Be honest and fair to us both.
- Don't substitute stocks or materials on a bid. How can I compare yours objectively if it's different?
- Be patient with the time it takes me to send the specs or to reply. I may have open jobs demanding my time and they have priority.
And that's how you can have me want to work with you. Yes, it's not easy, but if you want me to pay attention and consider what you have to offer and don't want me to think you're just another printer—making the same tired old pitch I've heard so many times before—this is how you can go about it.