Just a few minutes ago I completed my call with Larry Kirsch. Larry has been a Print4Pay Hotel member for more than ten years and has fourteen more years in the business more than me (37 years)! Incredible!
It's truly a blessing to have someone in your back pocket that you can lean on. Thus, with out further ado, let me present our interview with Larry Kirsch.
Art: What year did you start in the industry and what was your first position?
Larry: I started in 1966, and I started as a supply sales rep. My territory was NYC, and my territory was maybe 7 block square (Wall Street area).
Art: What company aka manufacturer or dealer did you work for during the seventies?
Larry: In 1968 I enter the world of copier sales. Being a manufacturer all we sold was SCM (Smith Corona Marchant). There were liquid machines and others that used zinc oxide paper which also used a transfer agent called dispersant.
Art: What was the percentage of copier sales people that made it past two years?
Larry: I would say about 50% or less made it past the two years.
Art: What did you like the most about your job in the seventies?
Larry: I liked the challenges that were presented to me, in addition the sales training with SCM was exceptional.
Art: What did you dislike the most about your job in the seventies?
Larry: The micro management, you had to come in by 8:30AM and back in the office 5:30PM which was a little to regimented for me. There were times when you could not make it back and you had to conform to those policies and procedures.
Art: What was the compensation plan like, was there a salary, what is just commissions or was there a mix of salary and commissions?
Larry: I received 22% commissions of the gross sale, and received a draw that was paid back on commissions.
Art: What? 22% of the gross sale, what did these copiers sell for?
Larry: We sold them for $1,500 -$2,000
Art: How did you go about finding new business, and what was your favorite of those methods and why?
Larry: My favorite method for finding new business was mailers and paying off the mailroom attendant at SCM to give me the return mailers that were sent in by potential prospects. Knocking on doors and drops off were also quite effective.
In addition at times I would compensate the facilities manager or super of the buildings if they alerted in advance who was moving in or out.
Art: What was your favorite brand and model to sell?
Larry: Savin 220 was my favorite, it was an easy product to sell. The Savin 220 sold for about $1,500 and we were moving about 100 of these a month.
Art: What type of car did you use for your demonstrations and how many demonstrations would you perform in a week?
Larry: Since I worked in the city, we did not use our vehicles. Once in a while we had to use a taxi in order to bring the demo out. That was quite an adventure. We were required to do ten demonstrations a week. In order to do those demonstrations we had to find a facility where we could leave our demonstrator. We would then gather the demo units and wheel the device to the demonstration.
Art: What did you do during the winter for the demonstrations?
Larry: We also had a video that we would bring out to the clients.
Art: Can you tell us one funny story about selling copiers in the seventies?
Larry: With one appointment, I took a client out to lunch and during the lunch he has asked for the proposal. I then wrote a number on the napkin and presented that to him. He stated, “what the hell is this?”, I stated before you get upset take a look at the napkin. He looked at the napkin and stated, “when can you deliver?”. He also asked me to put a formal proposal together but assured me that I got the order. I was then known as the “napkin closer” in the office.
Art: What is the biggest problem you seeing facing the industry today?
Larry: With major accounts, I’m finding that there are many more people involved in the decision making process, thus potential deals are taking much longer to close.
Larry, thanks so much for you time, this is awesome! I had no clue what is was like to sell in the seventies, nor doing in the Big Apple.