For most print customers, a printing company is personified by the sales partner – at least before they place any work with the printer. That first meeting with a rep is significant. Use it to evaluate whether you want to start a relationship with this person and (therefore) with the company.
If you’re an experienced marketer who’s worked with printers, you likely know how to interview sales partners, but newcomers may not. Here is a list of the top 8 qualities your print sales partner should have.
- 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 is 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 in a vacuum. 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 confuse everyone, and they also tend to change a lot. Even if your sales partner isn’t a mailing expert per se, 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. Bottom line? Make sure mail is not an afterthought at your printing company. It should be a focus.
- A Service Mentality
You want a print sales partner who has your back and treats you like you’re #1 – always (and 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
Customers new to the world of printing need more hand holding than experienced customers, so sales partners must be able to communicate what’s going on with a job in terms you can understand. Industry terminology tends to confuse and intimidate. You want to feel comfortable asking questions and feel reassured when you get answers.
Over time, you’ll need to find other types of manufacturers and professional service providers for projects that have a print element. This can include designers, packagers, illustrators, photographers, copywriters, and so on. The best print sales partners are highly resourceful in this regard. They’re happy to make recommendations for work they can’t offer in-house. Similarly, the ideal sales partner can suggest modifications or alternatives to projects so that they’re more efficient or cost effective. Look for a sales partner who’s a creative thinker and who has a wide professional network.
You could end up working with a printing company – and the same print sales partner – for many years. Use these 8 qualities as a guide to help screen your next potential print partner.
Contact us today to meet one of EarthColor’s experienced and knowledgeable sales partners.