How To Get Inside a Print Buyer’s “Circle of Trust”

By Margie Dana, Founder of Print Buyers International

Print Buyers make decisions based on a few things. While price certainly plays a part, to tell the truth, most experienced print customers know enough to get bids from printers whose products are competitively priced. If you’re too low by a long shot, out you go. If your prices are far too high, you don’t stand a chance.

There’s a better way to get prospects to work with you: get inside their “Circle of Trust.” Buyers tell me all the time that they choose to work with printers and other service providers whom they like and trust.

How do you get to be a member of this elite club?

I can think of a few ways. It takes time, determination and a focus on each individual customer. It also means swapping your “sales” hat for a “resources” one.

Earning your customer’s trust is a process. As you work with new customers, pay attention to their professional idiosyncrasies for things such as how to best communicate with them and how often. By focusing on each customer’s preferences for working together, you’ll demonstrate that you’re a provider that treats customers as individuals. You must show them you’re not only in business for a quick sale.

Becoming a trusted resource for print buyers isn’t an overnight process, nor should it be…it takes time, determination and a focus on each individual customer.

Spend time learning what challenges a customer is facing – both on the job and in the industry. Do this professionally and over time. Be mindful of overstepping the relationship. Make an effort to learn about her industry and what changes, if any, it is undergoing.

Be on the lookout for information that will help your customer do her job better and make her a hero in her manager’s eyes. This may or may not relate to the products you offer. Your goal should be to share information that could impact her role or responsibility. Sharing it will help turn you into a resource – a trusted one. Maybe it’s an article, a blog or a news item. If there’s a connection to a customer, share it.

Becoming a key resource to your customers is the best way to enter their “Circle of Trust.” But it can’t work magic by itself. You must back it up with the highest quality of service you can muster: honesty, quick response time, creative solutions, stellar CSR support and integrity.

Here are a few other hints that will help you work yourself into those circles:

  • Stay on top of the job when it’s in production
  • Bring fresh ideas for improving their materials
  • Always speak highly of your competition (or say nothing)
  • Listen
  • Accept responsibility when something goes wrong
  • Say “thank you”
  • Give a heads-up about pending changes in technology
  • Touch base after a job is delivered to ensure everything went well

Becoming a trusted resource for printer buyers isn’t an overnight process, nor should it be. Your personality must be compatible with your customers. You must appreciate the level of their manufacturing knowledge and react accordingly. You must be patient and accessible. Be sensitive to each job challenge. Let your customers know you have the answers that will help them in their roles. Be a key resource in the most professional way you know how. Be personable. Be present.

If you do all of the above, you’ll find yourself as a primary “go-to” provider for key customers. While it might be difficult to get in, once you are, you’re probably in their inner circle to stay. Since print customers refer print providers to their peers, your reputation will pave the way to new customers.

(c) 2012 Margie Dana. All rights reserved. Margie Dana is the founder of Print Buyers International, and a marketing specialist for the print and graphics art industry.