The following post was written by Mark Wodoslawsky, an Account Manager with Millcraft, and a top performing sales leader working with commercial printers, end-users, and print specifiers. He specializes in providing solutions for evolving markets.
Many of you probably think the easiest and most effective way to achieve the best possible price on each and every job is to bid it out to 2-4 reps and whoever gives you the cheapest price - that is who you go with. I can tell you that you will get the cheapest price - you'll get no argument on that from me. But what you may also get is poor service, inconsistent pricing (as you will be priced out job by job from there on out), and possibly left high and dry. When you find yourself in a bind, your rep may not be so eager to help you and/or may take advantage of the situation - and all the money that you have saved over the course of a year could be lost in a single instance.
If you think I am wrong, keep doing what you are doing. But, if you really want to know how to get the best price, consistently, from your reps - along with the best possible service - follow these five quick and simple guidelines:
• Be honest and open. Tell your reps what you want and all the information that surrounds the project or your business. If they're good (which they should be, why would you want to deal with a bad rep?) they should be able to deliver what you want and keep you competitive in the market place.
• If you are going to price check - which you should - you should always keep your #1 vendor honest. Communication is key. Make sure that they know that you gave an order away to another rep. Be honest, tell them "Hey, their delivery time was better than yours, or their product was better on this one, or the budget was really tight and I needed their savings." That rep should understand and know that even though I am the top vendor in this account, I need to be on my toes at all times.
• Be proactive with your business. Discuss the trends that you are seeing and increases in your business. Work those increases into volumes to get a better price. Everybody wins in theory - more business for everybody and you get a little bit of savings.
• Find out what the goals of your reps are...What are they judged on? If you help them achieve their goals, trust me, they will help you with your pricing and service.
• Pay your bills on time. Your suppliers hate chasing money. I know that you might not be able to control this but you can help. Show some love in this category, communicate with your rep and let them know what you are able to do - it will go a long way.