Printers and print buyers often have a love/hate relationship. Printers complain about price shoppers and buyers complain about high prices. Printers say print buyers can be picky. Print buyers say printers can be sloppy. For every gripe a printer has about print buyers, print buyers have a matching...
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"Price matters, it always does, it always will," she says. "But the senior-level corporate print buyer is using other criteria to determine who to work with. It's not a consistent checklist across the board, since buyers are motivated by different objectives and concerns." However, she notes that some print buyers sometimes do buy on price alone. She points to non-profits and government agencies as examples. "It's not that they all must, but many do."
"Print buyers are expected to source cost effectively, so naturally they're learning about fair pricing and negotiating," says Dana. "They'd be lousy buyers if they didn't"
How important is a printer's equipment and capabilities? Some of the comments from the brainstorming sessions speak to this question:
- "We've migrated to digital, so we need to know what kind of equipment so that the print provider can print, ship & distribute."
- "We always ask for an equipment list and what is done in-house vs. outsourced."
- "We actually do a print test – our colors are black and yellow – but you'd be surprised at the samples we get in."
Dana also notes that senior buyers usually insist on taking a plant tour. "They'll inspect things like how the equipment is maintained, how clean the facility is, how the people get along. No kidding! They're watching interpersonal cues between sales reps or managers and production team. More and more I'm finding buyers care about this."
An increasingly important criterion for choosing a printer is sustainability, according to Dana, who admits that "to be fair, this is more important to some buyers than it is to others."
References also count. "Great references from buyers they trust are huge," says Dana. "Buyers talk and share, today more than ever before. A good referral is a golden ticket."
The old saw is that if you educate your customers in how to prepare a job right you will pay the price of having to deal with an uneducated customer. Dana says that print buyers really do prefer printers who educate their customers.
Dana says that the fastest way to kill a potential sale is for a sales rep not to do his or her homework. A sales call from a rep who hasn't done his homework is "curtains' for him."
In the end, says Dana: "I guess print buyers want it all—speed quality, great value, and naturally great service. Who can blame them? We get everything else overnight. But you have to break this all down to fully understand what each means. And new buyers have different expectations than savvy ones, but that's for another day."