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Selling Copiers in the Seventies with Ed Doyle


Selling Copiers in the Seventies with Ed Doyle

Last week I had a chance to connect with Ed Doyle via a Linkedin thread I posted about "The Week in Copiers Five Years Ago".  Ed accepted my offer to be interviewed for "Selling Copiers in the Seventies" and gave some excellent content of the copier world back in the seventies.  Ed is now retired and I like to think of retirement as every day is a Saturday.  Please feel free to post a reply or even give Ed some kudos!

Selling Copiers in the Seventies

Art: How did you find your way into the copier industry? (feel free to us a story of how that happened)

Ed: I am originally from Milwaukee but attended U of SW Louisiana on a football scholarship. After graduating I returned home and secured a job as a sales engineer for a manufacturer in Chicago. After 4 ½ years of salary and a small bonus I decided I wanted to find a more commission-oriented job AND relocate back to Lafayette La. Working with an employment agency I was hired by Lanier and started 4/1/78 selling 3M copiers. Probably my most ridiculous story was cold calling door to door and convincing the owner of a pawn shop to see a demo. Shortly into my demo started he asked me if I was trying to sell him the copier (he thought I wanted to pawn it)!

Art:  What company or manufacturer did you start with, what was your title and what year did you start.

Ed: My favorite 3M model was the Secretary III, mainly because it sold for $9,995 and it was FAST at 25cpm. The bread and butter were the coated paper VQC III of which I sold 7-8 a month in my 2 ½ years in a territory.

Art: If you worked for a dealer or manufacturer please tell us what brand(s) you sold and what was your favorite model top sell and why that was your favorite.

Ed: We had a great team in my time in Lafayette and I would say the average number of reps making it past 2 years was probably 70%. The Lanier training and support, at that time, as well as the hiring model made for successful reps.

Art:  What was the percentage of copier sales people that made it past two years and why made them last or not last so long?

Ed: We had a great team in my time in Lafayette and I would say the average number of reps making it past 2 years was probably 70%. The Lanier training and support, at that time, as well as the hiring model made for successful reps.

Art:  What did you like the most about your job in the seventies?

Ed: I loved the fierce competition within the sales team to be the Salesman of the Month/Quarter. It absolutely drove me…… Also, the money was great!

Art: What did you dislike the most about your job in the seventies?

Ed:  Probably the toughest was the boiling heat of Louisiana and wearing a coat and tie every day on every call.

Art: What was the compensation plan like, was there a salary, what is just commissions or was there a mix of salary and commissions?

Ed: The pay plan was $800 a month draw plus commission. Base was 17% on coated units and 8% on plain paper unit + add on for maintenance, leasing and supplies.

Art: How did you go about finding new business, and what was your favorite of those methods and why?

Ed: Cold calling accounted for at least 80% of my business. Using the phone, call in leads and my own direct mail accounted for the remaining 20%.

Art: What was the first sales book that you read that and what did you take away from it?

Ed: The Five Great Rules of Selling. I made every rep I hired through my 40-year career in management read that book. Attention, Interest, Conviction, Desire & Close is the bedrock of selling. Understanding that structure, what it means, how to go through the steps is invaluable.

Art:  What type of car did you use for your demonstrations and how many demonstrations would you perform in a week demonstration (may you can find a pic an add it)

Ed:  I had a selling machine for a vehicle, a 1978 Ford Club Wagon Chateau. With the second-row captain’s chairs out and the third-row bench seat out I could fit one copier cart through the side door and two side by side in the back. Very few days did I go out with only two units. That way if I left a unit on trial or had to take one to install, I always had two left to demo (one coated and one plain paper).

Art: Can you tell us a couple of funny story about selling copiers in the seventies?

Ed: There were tons of funny stories. One that made its way to the very top at Lanier (the top was CEO Gene Milnor, a legend) was this: I was on a sales blitz and in the field with a rookie in El Dorado Arkansas, which was part of the Monroe, La. Office. We called on a one-man attorney who had an office upstairs. It was a gorgeous Spring day, and he had his window open behind his desk and his old 3M dual spectrum copier on a table next to the window. After a great demo his objection was, “that unit can really help me out and once this old copier dies, I’ll call you” You can imagine how many times I came back at him, but he wouldn’t budge. Finally, I said something like “so if I understand you, once your copier dies, you’re going to get the VQCIII, is that correct?” He answered an emphatic yes and I proceeded to unplug his copier and I tossed it out the window (during the demo I could see out and it was just an empty alley). He looked out the window, turned around and broke out laughing and said “you’re F***ing” crazy” I immediately told him we had plenty of these old units in stock to replace what I had just ruined and he thought a second and said “no thanks, I’ll get the new one”.

Art: What is the biggest threat you seeing facing the industry today?

Ed: Replacing clicks by improving the dealerships ability to sell MPS. Finding good people.

Art: If you had to would you do it all over again, if so what would you change?

Ed: Art, I would not change a thing, I had a blast and made a bunch of money and relationships that have lasted all these years. From Lanier to being a part owner it has been one heck of a ride.

Art: What’s the one piece of knowledge that you’d like to share with new reps entering our industry?

Ed: I tell every hire that they will NOT like every part of what it takes to be successful, that’s a given. Once they identify the thing they dislike the most (database entry, cold calling, using telephone etc.) then that is the area they must attack and not try to work around it. “Being successful is doing some things that you don’t necessarily like to do”. I played a lot of football and I can tell you I didn’t like Spring practice when it was 3 hours of full pads every practice and I hated two a days, but those practices made me a good player.


Special thanx to Ed for doing this!  I find some hidden gems with every interview I do from our veterans of the industry.  Maybe I should have launched a copier or two out the window also! Ed's Linkedin profile is here.

-=Good Selling=-


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Great read and I’d love to have thrown a machine out of most lawyers offices.    Remember selling against the Pink Transfer Belt of the VQC.   I wish I could recall the exact weakness we exploited but it had something to do with the way the belt advanced and how that impacted the life of the belt.   Something to do with # of copies made per original ....again it a vague memory.   I might even be confusing the model with another one    Ed ? Was I dreaming or ???...   great story by you.   Art - this is a classic series.     I suggest you reach out to more old Vets.  

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