Ah, the eighties and the nineties was an awesome time to be selling copiers. The eighties gave us many opportunities with the adoption of plain paper copiers and the late nineties proved to be just as fruitful with the change from analog copiers to digital copiers. (My demo room in the 90's Atlantic Office Systems)
If you sold copiers in the eighties and nineties, you carried a copy of Minnella's Pocket Guide to Copiers. Minnella's Pocket Guide to Copiers was our go to source to find out more about the competition. Many of us even referred to the guide as our Copier Bible.
Our pocket guide was a soft covered book that usually numbered about two hundred pages. The size? Well, it was small enough that you could tuck it in your back pocket and or your inside suit jacket pocket. All of the pages were printed in black, in addition to specs for each copier listed there was also a black & white photo of each copier.
Minnella's Pocket Guide to Copiers was published twice a year for spring and fall. It's kinda tough to remember if our dealership paid for those guides or if we (salespeople) bought them on our own. What I can tell you is how excited we were to receive the new guide. Nothing was worse when a client would make a remark about a competitors copier and your pocket guide did not list that copier. In most cases it was because that competitors device was launched before the next publication.
Funny story and we use to so this. For those competitive copiers that were not listed in the pocket guide we had to be creative to get the information that we needed. There was no internet in the eighties, the odds of getting your hands on another manufacturers copier brochure was slim to none. I mean you just couldn't walk into a competitors office and ask for one.
Believe it or not, we (sales people) would call another dealership and pose as a potential buyer. Those phone calls were CRAZY! Thus, we would get a hold of a sales person and try to glean as much information as possible about the copier model in question. Sometimes we were caught and sometimes we were not. Thank goodness there was no caller ID then. On the flip side, I would also receive these types of calls and yes I was duped a few times also.
It Was All About The Specs
Selling copiers in the eighties and the early nineties was much different from the way we sell copiers today. That's because not all of the manufacturers were equal when it came to quality of the copy and reliability the device. Instead of focusing on the total cost of ownership, it was important to educate the client about the benefits of your device over a competitors device. There was no better to way to do than to show the client a side by side comparison of your copier vs the competitors.
In most cases after six hard months of selling, your pocket guide had scribbled notes on each page, highlighter marks, and many dog ears. If your pocket guide was in deplorable condition it usually meant that you were killing it with orders!
Each model copier included a photo, the MSRP, the date of introduction, what other manufacturer also sold the same product. In addition you could get the all of the consumable yields for that copier.
Indeed the information in these guides helped us to close more sales. One of the unique ways that we convinced a client that our copier was superior was to point about the PM (Preventative Maintenance) schedule from our copier vs a competitors. It kinda went like this. The device I was selling had a PM schedule for the photo-drum at 60K pages. My competitors device had to have the drum changed every 20K pages. Over the course of five years the client would make 600,000 pages. Thus, his copier would be down ten times for the replacement of the drum with my copier. The competitors copier would be down thirty times for the drum for 600,000 pages. We would then ask the client "can you afford to have your copier down for an additional 40 hours (usually took a few hours for a complete PM) for PM's?
In the eighties there weren't many laser printers and making copies of documents was critical for a business to operate efficiently on a daily basis. When the copier was down it was disaster if there was no back up copier.
It's All About The Book
I need to give thanks to Jim Parker from CBS in Texas. Many weeks ago we had a call to discuss a certain product. How we finished up the call was speaking about those pocket guides that we used to rely on. Jim stated that he had a few of them laying around and offer to send me one. Just a few days I go I received a copy of 1990 Spring Guide. I was so elated when the book arrive and immediately tore into it.
I've even tried to track down the editor who is Thomas Minnella. Seems the business was located here in New Jersey. I did some internet searching which brought up a facebook page. I did send a message to that page many weeks ago but haven't had a reply back. I'm thinking they are out of business or shut down. If anyone reading this does know the Author, please send me an email so that I can contact him.
I'm also looking for addition years if anyone has them!