How do I transition from print buying into selling printing?

After many years as a graphic designer (print and Web), I am interested in launching a new career as a printing sales rep – selling printing and maintaining client accounts. Do you have any ideas on how I can get started?


Suzanne Morgan, Editor:
A career as a printing sales representative can be very rewarding. I actually made this transition several years ago. Because I had been a print buyer, I succeeded greatly in selling printing and managing client accounts since I understood print buyers’ needs. I could also “speak the customer’s language” – which helped immensely with both working directly with the print buyer clients, as well as communicating expectations and customer goals back to the printing plant.

You may want to review “Signs of a True Professional”, a PBO archived article that lists 11 factors that differentiate a superior sales representative from a mediocre one. You can find the article by going to:

In the meantime, here’s advice from two PBO’s printer members to help you get started:

Larry K. Wolf
Director of Marketing

Devon, Pennsylvania

While I don't have a pro forma list of characteristics, in my experience, how sales candidates handle themselves during the interview process is a very important indicator of their potential for success (more so than for other positions because sales is a very social activity). When interviewing and reviewing a candidate's work experience, I look for indicators of their decision-making process, previous working relationships, work ethic, and business philosophy to ascertain a fit with our organization.

Graphic design/print buying experience is a plus (second only to successful print sales experience), for it means the individual should be well-versed in industry knowledge and has gained a first-hand perspective of the needs of designers and print buyers (the very people they will be calling upon).

Alan J. Granat
President & CEO
Artisan Columbia Printing & Graphic Arts Center
Westbury, NY
Toll-Free 1-877-ARTISAN

Here are some ideas to get you on your way:

  1. Speak with your current clients about adding printing to the services you already provide.

  2. Speak with your suppliers about selling exclusively for one of them or forming a brokerage division of your studio, and acting as the printing rep for several of them.

  3. Make sure any printer you do business with accepts smaller jobs, as a new client will frequently start off with a small order as a test.

  4. Do a self-inventory and assessment and see if this is really what you want and if you have the skills and training to do it.

  5. Definitely learn about digital printing and one-to-one marketing. It's the future.

© Copyright Print Buyers, Inc.