Selling Copiers “The Good Ole Days”
Pac Man, Space Invaders and Donkey Kong were cool, everyone was wearing Raybans, Nike Sneakers and Members Only jackets.
In 1982 I sold my first copier, I started in the industry as a technician in late 1981. I was fantastic at taking developer units apart to perform PM’s. My only problem was I could never put them back together so they would work right. Thus my career in selling copiers started.
Looking back I believe the first copier I ever sold was a Minolta 310, moving platen, 1-99 copies, one paper tray (letter & legal) and an exit tray! I can also remember selling a few used Minolta 101’s early on (liquid plain paper). What pieces of junk those were!
A typical day was to get into the office early, wait, I forgot one of the pre-requisites of selling copiers, you had to own a station wagon or a hatchback in order to delivery and demo the copiers. Yep, I was the delivery guy, the pick up guy, the loaner guy and brought copiers out for demonstrations!
I worked at a very small Minolta dealershipin cenral New Jersey, I arrived by about 8AM and by about 9:30AM I would start calling potential clients to setup demonstrations for copiers, typically you would call for appointments in the AM and try to do the demo in the after noon. The pitch was simple and went something like this, "Hi, my name is Art with Copy Machine Specialists, the reason for my call is to see you have the need for a plain paper copier, would you be the right person to speak to about that?" Plain paper copiers were hot and it didn't take too many phone calls to arrange a demonstration. Believe it or not we worked from stacks upon stacks of Yellow Page books!
When telemarketing, we always had our fair share of “I’m not interested” and hang ups. Being young and foolish, I called those people back and told them how polite they were and then hung up on them!! In an average week we able to set 10 appointments a week for demonstrations, out of those ten I may have sold one or two, not great however for a young guy, but it paid the bills.
There were days when you were sick and tired of making the phone calls, and at any time you could pack a demo machine in the car and then knock on doors all day long. That was probably the best part of the job, you never knew what you were going to walk into.
There were no emails to answer, no advanced training, heck we had two or three models and all they did was make copies! What a wonderful life! I must admit the thrill of knocking on client’s door, speaking to the right person and then being able to give a demonstration all in the same day was nirvana! The only thing that could top that was bring back a check and leaving the copier at their office! Yes, we sold many copiers that way.
I can also remember some funky brands of copiers such as Apeco, Royfax, Yorktown, Rex Rotary (this one hung on a wall) 3M VQC’s , SCM and of course Xerox. The Japanese were just starting to make inroads in the US copier market. I can remember a customer telling me once that he was looking at a Ricoh, our first response to the client was “What’s a Ricoh”? My how times have changed.
Let’s see over the years I have been kicked out of offices, had a customer once drop off a machine and smashed it on the ground at my office (bet you the leasing company liked that), had the hatchback open on the car while I was driving, the copier and the gurney went onto the highway and then into a patch of sticker bushes, dropped a machine and cart in downtown Princeton (not a good day), and then walked in on a lady who was nude sunbathing in her back yard (I had the wrong address for the demo).
Back then we had time to sell, nowadays our time is spent answering emails, trying to keep up on 30 different models of copier, 10 models of laser printers, fax machines, scanners, third party solutions software, manufacturers solution software, forecast sheets, delivery forms, Return Goods Forms, co-coordinating delivery, installations, training (I use to be able to train in 15 minutes, now its more like and hour or longer) helping customers with print, scan and fax issues. Lets not forget about the 5 calls a week in reference to how can I do this with my machine or why won’t it so this!
Technology stinks bring back The Eighties!!!