Most customers get their first impression of a print company by speaking with a sales representative. That initial meeting can tell you a lot about the company as a whole and what you can expect from them if you place your print jobs there. If you’re an experienced marketer, you may already know what to look for when meeting with a potential print partner. But if you’re new to print buying, you’ll want to make sure your print partner possesses these important qualities.
- Industry Knowledge and Experience
The ideal sales partner has substantive experience in the industry. Here’s why: print manufacturing is complex. Customers rely on their sales partner for guidance about how to design jobs for a particular production process, how to avoid problems when creating campaigns, how to prepare files that will print well, and much more. Your sales partner should be your print manufacturing expert.
Trusting your sales partner to do the right thing is critical. You count on your print sales partner to tell you the truth and be upfront about any issues that may arise. It’s a good idea to get references from a few of his or her current customers and have a chat with them.
Your sales partner should be available during the workweek as needed, and if not, you need to know that someone else at the printer will be there for you. Usually this means a CSR (Customer Service Representative), who works closely with the sales partner. The ability to reach your sales partner, especially during active campaigns, is mandatory.
- An Aptitude for Marketing
Rarely does print exist by itself. Rather, it’s part of a multichannel or omnichannel campaign. For this reason, and also because people communicate using various digital channels and devices (often simultaneously), the best print sales partners are fluent in marketing and not just in print manufacturing. A sales partner should keep current in marketing and media trends. It helps you work as a team when planning marketing campaigns.
- Mailing Smarts
Mailing regulations can get confusing, and they tend to change a lot. Even if your sales partner isn’t a mailing expert, knowing that his or her company has mailing pros on site is important, particularly if you do direct mail campaigns. It affects everything from format to folding to weight to production scheduling to pricing. Make sure mail is a major focus at your printing company.
- A Service Mentality
You want a print sales partner who has your back and treats you like you’re #1, regardless of how busy he or she is or how many other clients there are. Printers hire reps for their sales expertise, but customers need reps for their service skills. You want your sales partner’s full attention.
- Articulate and Communicative
Printing can be complex. Your sales partner needs to be able to communicate what’s going on with a job in terms you can understand. Industry terminology tends to confuse and intimidate. Your print partner should make you feel comfortable asking questions or expressing concerns.
Ideally, your relationship with your print partner will be long-term and stress-free. Look for the above qualities to ensure you’re making the right choice.