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Are Copier Sales Reps Asking the Right Questions


Over the last couple of days, I've been approached about help with device recommendations and or configurations from a few of our newbies. I love it when they come to me for help, because most of the time I'm on my own sales island and really have no one to turn to if I have questions about devices or configurations.  Thus, the reason why I post most of my questions on the these forums.  I need to hear from others that have more knowledge than me.

I've always stated over the years that we (copier salespeople) can't be experts with every device, solution and vertical market.  The Print4Pay Hotel forums allows copier salespeople and dealers to pose questions to our members. In most cases you'll get your question answered by some our elite members.

How can you become as knowledgeable as our Elite members?  Just ask questions, asking questions is your key to becoming the guru in your market place.

K, enough of that.  When trying to answer those questions from those newbies, in most cases I'll have questions of my own so I can make a recommendation.

What I'm finding out is that most newbies are not asking enough discovery questions about the client, the competition or those basic questions that allows you to make a determination of which device is right for the client.

Monthly Volume

I cringe when I ask questions like, "what is the monthly volume", and I get an answer of, "we estimated it at 20-40K annually". I'm like, WHAT?   You mean to tell me you didn't take the time to pull a meter read and ask when the device was installed?  The reply can be, "well they got the system pre-owned and they are not sure".  Ok, there's a bunch of other questions you can ask.

  • What date was the device installed?
  • Have you had the device serviced since then, if so when? In most cases there may be a service tech ticket inside the device. If it's there, in most cases there could be a meter read and date. Walla!
  • Do you have a copy of the last service ticket that you signed when the tech serviced your device?
  • Do you have a copy of the service invoice?
  • How much paper do you buy per month or year?
  • Do you fill the paper trays, if so how often do you fill them?
  • Do you fill the paper trays to the top every time?
  • Are you the only person who fills the paper tray?
  • Do you keep track of the dates that you put a new toner in the device?

As you can see there are many questions that can be asked to find out what the volume of the device in question.  Geesh, asking about the volume is one  of those always ask questions.   Never, every walk away without feeling comfortable that you know their monthly or annual volume.


At times, I've also asked our newbies, "who is the vendor that they are doing business with". This is another one of those questions that need to be asked. If the customer does not know (yeah, right), then ask to see the device in question and in most cases there's a sticker from the servicing company. 

Knowing your competition is HUGE, no company is perfect and in most cases other reps in the office may know a deficiency about that vendor aka service provider.

Another key question to ask once you find out who their current service provider is to ask these questions:

  • I see that you have Canon device, however what brand did you have before the Canon's?
  • If the client states that they had the same brand, then you need to ask, "who was the service provider for that brand?"

In most case's if you're speaking with the "right" person, they will be able to tell you.

Why are these two questions so valuable?

They will tell you if the client is brand or dealer loyal or both (brand and dealer).

  • If they have moved from brand to brand over the years, most likely they will be open to your brand.
  • If they have had a different service provider each time, they will seriously entertain your service.
  • If they have had the same brand for two lease cycles, they are brand loyal. Which means that you're going to have a tough road to hoe in order to get the sale.
  • If they come back with the same brand and same service provider for two lease cycles, then they are brand an dealer loyal.  This will be the toughest road to hoe in order to get the order. You might want to think about not spending a lot of time with them, or get down and dirty the first and give them your best price and move on.

Ask & Ye Shall Recieve

Here's another question to ask:  What do you like about your current provider (got this from a book I read and I've been using this)? In most cases they can't think of much and it will put the thought in their head that maybe there's really not much that they like about them.

The Client

In most cases you should know this first question before you meet with them and it's also not bad idea to know what they do before you cold call them in person or on the phone.  Just last week before I did a couple of in person cold calls. Before I went in,  I sat in the car (it was raining that day) and googled the company.  Thus, before I walked in I knew what services they offered or what they sold.  It's impressive data just in case you run into the right person, but can also  help with some story telling about other accounts that you or your dealership does business with.

  • How is business?
  • What's the biggest pain that you have with your day to day business?
  • What type of initiatives does your company have for next year?
  • Why are you including us for new devices?  Especially helpful, if you received this lead from your manufacturer or someone else.  Most likely there is pain with something and you need to find that out

Now, I could go on and on with additional questions, but it's getting late and I need to close some additional opportunities before the end of the month. Ours ends this Monday. So, it's time to turn it.

What are your thoughts, do you have additional questions?  Would love to hear them.

BTW, we're having our first Wide Format Webinar on September 18th, 2017. We want to give you a sales makeover so that you're a wide format guru. If interested, you can check that out here.

-=Good Selling=

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As you said, this blog wasn't meant to cover all the bases but your comments about brand loyalty and brand/service provider loyalty are only true if the decision maker has been the same for each decision. If you aren't talking to the owner, you may be talking to a totally different person than the one that made past decisions. You need to know that before you decide whether to pack your bags and walk away.

Also, in a leased equipment environment, the decision to stay with the same brand and service provider may have had more to do with a binding lease agreement than loyalty. I've seen time and time again, especially with Xerox, where companies couldn't get out from under a bad situation without going back to the same vendor.

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