Why print buyers get better prices when they pick up the phone

Using the phone will improve your response from companies

Using the phone will improve your response from printers

Don’t you hate those automatic phone menus.  The ones where you listen to a long list of options and still can’t work out which button to press?  The ones where is seems to take forever to get past.

Don’t you just wish you could speak to a real person instead?

Sometimes talking to a real person can save you a LOT of time

And that’s a lesson that many print buyers would do well to remember.  I hear tales of buyers sending out 50 quote requests by e-mail.  And then struggling to work out which printer they should use.  They have become as impersonal as those phone menus.

I read an excellent piece on e-mail quotes this week by Paul Castain.  He discusses how to engage with buyers who send out e-mail quotes.  The piece reinforced the thoughts that I have held for some time.

Picking up the phone for a print quote is more effective than e-mail

Buyers who pick up the phone to their printers forge much stronger relationships with suppliers.  And, as a result, they often receive better service and more competitive quotes.  These buyers end up achieving more with their budgets.

Buyers who simply fire off quotes by e-mail rarely achieve the same results.  Their printers often take their quotes less seriously.  And they take their relationship with these buyers less seriously.

There are many other reasons why you should consider picking up the phone more often when buying.  Here are three of themPicking up the phone shows that you are serious

These days it’s pretty rare for a print buyer to pick up the phone for a print quote.  Print companies are used to receiving hundreds of requests a day by e-mail.  So if they receive a quote request by phone it stands out.

The printer sees a print buyer who has taken time to engage with them personally.  They see a print buyer who is serious about getting a price from them for this job.  Guess which quote request goes to the top of the pile and gets the most attention?

But that’s not the only advantage that a print buyer gets from picking up the phone.

Picking up the phone gets you more help

Every time I pick up the phone to a printer I am always surprised at how much advice they can give me.  I’ve been print buying for twenty years, so I like to think that I know a thing or two about print.  But that doesn’t mean that I have nothing less to learn.  With complex jobs I can often work out a much more competitive solution by discussing the specification with the print company.

But there is other useful information that I can gain from the print company as well.

Picking up the phone means you know that you’re getting a serious print quote

Sometimes a printer gives a quote because they really want that job.  Maybe there’s a gap in their schedule.  Or maybe it has a specification that is particularly suited to their machines.

But sometimes a print company puts in a quote simply because they’ve been asked to.  They don’t have any real expectation of winning the job.  Or maybe they are not bothered about winning the job.  Maybe they have plenty of work booked in on the same schedule.

I would always prefer to work with a print company who really wants the job.  But sometimes it can be difficult to know who really wants the job and who doesn’t.  Picking up the phone can give you that information instantly.  And sometimes you may even decide not to progress with a quote from that particular printer.

So that’s just three reasons why picking the phone can benefit you when you are getting print quotes.  But some of you will still be wondering whether it is worth all this effort.

Doesn’t phoning up for a print quote take too much time?

Let’s be honest, picking up the phone is always going to take longer than an e-mail.  But the benefits often make that time well spent.  Here’s one example of when picking up the phone was well worthwhile.

In this instance I was asking for quotes for some laser overprinting.  Picking up the phone had allowed me to discount some suppliers who seemed to struggle with the complexity of the job.  But then I picked up the phone to a print company that I hadn’t spoken to before.  They were keen to help.  And the print company saw that I was a serious buyer.  Because we were talking, they were able to discuss some alternative ways of producing the job.  In fact, we ended up using inkjet in a way that I hadn’t seen before.  Picking up the phone saved me an awful lot of money on that job.

I’m a big fan of the phone.  But it’s not the only way you should communicate when getting print quotes.

Don’t forget to use e-mail too

This may seem like a strange statement when I have claimed that e-mail is too impersonal.  However, e-mail is still important when you are asking for print quotes.  It is always essential to use it to back up a phone conversation.  That way there can be no misunderstanding about the specification you require the printer to quote on.

But before you e-mail a specification, you should definitely use the phone first.

Here are three action points to get you quoting by phone:

  1. Pick up phone next time you need a print quote.
  2. Make sure that you have a worthwhile conversation:  don’t write the print specification down before the call.  That will help you have more dialogue with the printer.
  3. Make sure that anyone buying print has been trained to deal with suppliers in the best way. Find out more about how Print & Procurement can help with this.

Remember the benefits of a personal relationship with your printers

After all, you don’t want to be given the same attention as an automated phone menu!

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3 Responses to Why print buyers get better prices when they pick up the phone

  • paul says:

    I’m sorry, but with all due respect – I totally disagree with this. I am a veteran print rep – I am certainly not opposed to using the phone… but in today’s print world – in order to turn profit and make money – it’s all about efficiency. Phone calls simply take much longer than emails to handle.
    I think a better idea might be to email your specs to your rep – and if you would like to discuss anything in particular – attach a note saying so, with some idea of what needs to be discussed. A call (or visit) can then be arranged.
    As a printer, we need to process many, many projects – in a very efficient and clear manner. Print projects have become much smaller, and require a much faster pace than ever before. So – I am afraid if the general print-buying populace adheres to the “phone is best” philosophy – that it will slow things down dramatically. I actually tend to think that people are more serious about buying print when it is clear that they know how to clearly and concisely specify what they need… in writing (email). Our best clients are those who can communicate well via email, and also know when a meeting or conversation is needed.

    • Matthew Parker says:

      Hello Paul,

      Thank you for your comments and for offering a different point of view. I am a great believer in efficiency, and in using “e” where appropriate. There is certainly a case for regular clients using more prices matrices to order regular items. However, I also feel that often too many quotes are generated in the print industry. If buyers pick up the phone, the sales reps have a chance to qualify the quote. When I quoted for work I often refused to quote about 50% of the enquiries that I received. I had found out that the buyers weren’t particularly serious about engaging with me, so I preferred not to be used as “quote fodder”.

      I hope this offers some food for thought.

      Best wishes

      Matthew

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