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Memoirs of a Copier Sales Person

Finding Suspects for Content Opportunities in Want Ads

Finding Suspects for Content Opportunities in Want Ads

I placed this comment on the forums section of this site a few minutes ago, however I wanted to get it on the blog so I could share with others.

Leads can be found almost anywhere.  Since a lot of my prospecting has changed from copiers to content I'm always on the lookout for opportunities and where the low hanging fruit is.  Going wider and deeper with your relationships can make a difference.

Below is from one of my clients that I follow on Linkedin.  These are additional responsibilities in the job requirement section


  • Research and resolve part related issues collaborating with Procurement and Operations.
  • Ensure compliance with established accounting policies and procedures related to daily operations.
  • Collaborate with Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable to ensure customer invoices and vendor purchase orders are accurate and up to date.
  • Process and apply expense reports to corresponding work orders for accurate billing.

Keywords for me:

  • policies and procedures
  • part issues and collaboration
  • AR, AP, invoices, purchase orders
  • Work orders, accurate billing

Not that I'm one for reading want ads, however after seeing this one, I'll be reading more want ads to see if they qualify as a suspect and warrant a call.

I'll be placing a call tomorrow to my contact and give him m thoughts @jdicarlo
-=Good Selling=-

Supply Chain Day Thirteen........Not Really

Let me count the ways.....how many clients are opting out re-leasing their copiers, others that want to buy their existing copier from the leasing company and a few additional accounts sprinkled in that they are opting to stay status quo.

Yup the last few weeks many of my clients that were playing hide and seek finally got me the goods on where their heads were at.

One of the talk tracks today was about a Fair Market Value (FMV) lease and what is the option for the client to buy that device.  Years ago FMV was worthless to me, the model number, the price, nor the meter read always meant the copier was being returned. No ifs and or buts.

Times have changed since there is demand to keep those copiers that under performed during COVID. The owner knows the copiers were hardly used and there was little to no service issues.

Supply and Demand

Prior and even during COVID none of my clients wanted to keep the existing copier. Every single one of those copiers were returned to that great copier hall waiting for another forever home.

Fair Market Value is the price an asset would sell for on the open market depending on age, and meter read.  I can tell you I've made that statement to clients thousands of times and probably even dreamed about FMV a few times as well.

The preowned copier market is hot and that's because most of us can't get new A3 devices for months and most new A4 devices are a pipe dream.  Thus the demand is there for used, preowned and off lease copiers.  Thus my talk track and I'm sure many others have changed their position when a client asks how much is that 5 year old copier?

My talk track in recent weeks finds me quoting 50% or more of the what the lease price was.

Interesting

I do find it interesting that I've never seen our industry like this in my 42 years.  Yes, there was the Great Recession in 08 or 09, but you could always get a copier whenever you wanted one.  When clients asked "when can I get my copier" the answer was always, "when do you want it by".

-=Good Selling=-

I'm Finding the Opportunities, but not Winning Competitive Deals

The question below was emailed to me back in 2003 and I thought this would be a good review.

"My pipeline is always 100,000k+ and I'm required to do 12-15 appointments per week.  I'm finding the opportunities, but not winning competitive deals. (I have a small base list of 10 accounts)."

Above was a statement that was emailed to me by a Print4Pay Hotel member in Canada this week.  I thought this would make a good topic for this week to see if I can help.

Okay, I'm thinking if you only have a base of 10 accounts and you're not winning competitive deals that means all of your business is net new.  Here's a few things that I try to do with net new business.

1) Find out what brand of equipment they have now and who is servicing the product with those opportunities.

2) Once you've found out what brand they have, ask them what brand they had before their current brand along with who was servicing the equipment. If they had a different brand and servicing dealer this can tell you that they have no brand or service loyalty. If they have the same brand and the same servicing dealer or direct branch, then you've got a tough road to hoe since they have brand and service loyalty.

3) I would dig deep with the customer to see if there is some type of lockout feature or software that will position my company at the top of the pack. I've often found that many reps are lazy and won't take the time to explain many of the features, advantages and benefits of their systems.  Thus you may mention something browse to folder for scanning.  Try not to leave any stones un-turned,  when you are in a competitive situation. If you're selling MPS, make it more about the service, the reporting tools, and your fleet software advantages.

4) Make sure you meet with the DM, if not you need to put your best foot forward with the quality of your presentation and proposal.  Many times the DM may leave the decision making up to the person you met with, in this case the cheapest/lowest price may not be the right choice for the person you met with. Most likely they will not select the highest price, nor the lowest price. Thus, go with your gut and the middle of road for pricing.

5) Ask "When will you be making a decision on acquiring the system and what is the process for choosing one vendor over another", make this one of your last  questions.

6) ABC, Always be closing, if a closing opportunity comes up and stares you smack in the kisser, then close.

7) I'm not sure of your market, however in large markets you've got to be prepared and I hate to say this, is to "offer your best deal" in order to get the business.  If you're in this for the long haul and your company services the product well, you'll be able to have an upgrade or additional units in the future that you'll be able to hold margin.

These are just a few items that came to mind.  What I can also tell you is that you need to remove yourself from competitive situations, you need to find the prospects who are NOT in the market.

Basically this means that with your skill set you've been able to secure an appointment, assess their pain or challenges and offer a solution that will help them NOW.  Hard to do, but the opportunities are out there, all you need to do is find them.

-=Good Selling=-

Supplier Ghosted the Client When They Needed Help

I will not name names, I will not name names.

OMG, it is so tempting to tell everyone. Well I could always name names with private messaging

The Story

I will tell you a story about about a third party print supplier in our industry.  For me that supplier should have been more client focused and more driven to solving a print issue rather than to tell the client there is no solution they could offer.

Now the print issue was not with the device that they support, but rather with the print that came from the print device.  The print device did what is was suppose to do without any issues, in addition there were no problems with the print quality.  Sounds strange right?  Stay tuned..

The client bought six of these print devices over a two year period. All was working well...

18 months later

It was about 18 months later when the clients customer and then a couple of more customers complained to the customer that the prints they received was producing a ghosting image.  Okay, so keep in mind that our clients customers was running the pre-printed documents back through their A4 MFP.  The customers clients stated every print was not usable since the image was doing the double image (ghosting)..

Interesting because when we originally entertained the client with the print solution and all of the technical data.  Our third party print supplier never mentioned that there could or might be some issues at some time with some laser printers ghosting the image.

Of course the issue was brought to the third party print provider. The issue was addressed by an Engineer and exclaimed that they would get back to the client with something soon. This went on for weeks,  during this time the client was afraid that other customers were having the same issues and not telling him. Thus he was afraid he could be losing business and not even know it.

After a month of no response to the client, the third part print provider wrote  a beautiful letter to the client stating there is nothing they go do.  Seems like the Engineer had no issues to correct the product.

Long Story Short

I'm going to make a long story short now.  At an event two seasoned print pros thought over the problem and applied their print knowledge of the laser print process.  We all know that in the print properties we can slow the speed of printer and in some instances the fuser temp is increased to print on thick paper.  He took the opposite and thought about print settings for thin paper. We both agreed that the fuser would not get as hot with the thin paper setting.  Thus this might  stop the image from ghosting.

It was a theory, but at least it was something.  The client agreed to buy two of the A4 printers that were having the issues. I was on site for the testing and our theory worked with changing the print setting to "thin paper mode" in the printer driver.

As I stated I don't want to name names, but I am proud that two seasoned pro's (more him than me) figured out a solution to keep the client happy.  Yet, I am puzzled by the third party print provider did not think simple solution but walked away.

-=Good Selling=-

At 65 There's a Lot to Like About The Imaging Channel

At 65 There's a Lot to Like About The Imaging Channel

I just felt that it would be a change to write a short blog again.

Sometimes it's not until I start putting keystrokes on the screen do I figure out what I want to write about.

It was at the age of fifteen when I aced a class for creative writing.  I'm not sure if I aced the class because I'm creative or because my teacher was hot. I like to think it was because I have this knack for being creative and my sales career only cemented how creative I could be.  After all these years I still enjoy writing, however I do realize that don't have the best grammar and that pains me from time to time. I make no bones about it that I'm a technology sales person first and a writing is something I love to do.

Writing is cool,  but when I write about our industry I always like to share my knowledge and my experiences with everyone. At times I will write about our industry and changes that I would like to see, however I'm never derogatory to our craft.  Yes, there are things I don't like but I'm not going to bring down our business because of the negatives.  Every business has their negatives and positives and if you're going to write or video about our industry you need to be able to tell both sides of the story in that blog for our video. For me it's similar to when I was coaching baseball, if you're going to promote a negative to a player you will then need to promote some positive to the player as well.

I guess what I'm saying is that when people are outside of our industry, meaning they have no skin in the game for profit, revenue, sales and losses, then they tend to more negative about what they write or speak.

They can spout to everyone what is wrong with our industry but they can't tell anyone on how to change or fix our industry.  They aren't or don't know how to be creative and offer up ideas on how to change our industry and turns those negatives into positives. They are not thought leaders.

Look for my video in the next week where I will offer up ideas on how to change our industry. Yes, I will walk the talk.

Why our Industry is awesome

It was four weeks ago when the company I work for offered up an incentive for going deeper and wider with clients. It wasn't a cash or prize incentive.  The incentive was to know more about your existing clients and how we can help. It's a fact that your existing clients are your gold mines, those clients just need to be panned.

In a recent QBR I was able to pan one of our clients and that digger deeper and wider opened a $600K content opportunity.  We've made it to the fourth meeting to present our final pitch which will happen in a couple of weeks.  There is additional potential that this could grow a lot larger for 2nd and 3rd phase initiatives. It's opportunities like these that tells me our industry is in a great space.

So, as much as some like to continue the beat down and label us as a declining business model, I will tell you that our business model is changing before our very eyes and the continued digitization of everything will give us opportunities for a long long time!

-=Good Selling=-

Five Reasons to Think Twice About Upgrading Your Leased Copier Early

First item I'd like to start with is that if you're upgrading your copier lease with your existing vendor then you should be in good hands.  There's a couple of reasons for that, one is that you trust the existing vendor and sales person and they've done this before and there were no issues.

I write from experience and just last week one of my clients was approached by another copier vendor.  The sales person at the company explained how much they could save if they leased a new copier from them even though the client still had ten payments left on the lease.  That sales rep had a good two years of experience and did not do a good job of explaining the process to the company.  Let me rephrase that, that person did explain the process but hid a lot of the cheese and explained the process like it's no BIG DEAL!  WELL IT IS A BIG DEAL WHEN SOMETHING GOES WRONG OR IS NOT ADDRESSED THE WAY IT SHOULD BE.

Lease letter of intent

1.  The client is responsible to write of LOI "letter of intent" to the leasing company at "x" amount of days prior to the end of the lease. The LOI is needed to notify the leasing company of the clients intent to buy, or return the copier to the leasing company.  If the client does not send the letter in the specified time range, the client will go into the  "evergreen" clause  (which means the client will be bound to pay more payments than negotiated with the lease). Those payments could be one or up to 12 extra payments because the LOI was not received on time.

Here's the issue, it is the clients responsibility to send the LOI within the time frame specified on the lease. In most cases it can't be sent early.

  • What happens if the clients forgets to send the LOI on time? 
    • Will the rep that has two years experience contact the client to remind them to send the letter of LOI?
    • What happens if the rep is not with the upgrading copier company in ten months?
    • What happens if the client that negotiated the new lease is not with the company that executed the new lease?
    • Is there a back up plan in case neither person is with the companies?
    • Was any of this explained to the client during the process of the upgrade?

Removal of Copier

2.  All office equipment leases have a clause that the copier aka equipment can't be removed from the clients location unless the leasing company is notified in writing. I would tend to think that this could be for a couple of reasons and one might be if the copier needs to be repossessed and the other for insurance reasons. If the leasing company finds out the copier was removed and they were not notified this could result in default of the lease.

  • Of course the rep with two years of experience would never tell the client this because it my jeopardize the order for the new copier.  But is it better to give the client added RISK without notifying the client?
    • What happens if during the removal if the copier is damaged?
    • Who pays for the replacement or damage?
    • Did the rep give any documentation to the client that they are fully insured if something happens to the copier?

Insurance

3.  In most cases the leasing companies will ask the client to buy insurance for the leased copier.  Clients also have the option of purchasing their own insurance and listing the leasing company as the loss/payee. More risk to the client.

  • During the 10 months of more of storage of the copier (keep in mind that the copier can't be returned early), does the client still have to pay for the insurance from the leasing company?
    • Is they client covered if the copier is damaged while at the storage facility?
    • Does the new vendor provide a document to the client that states the copier is covered if there is damage or catastrophic loss?
    • What happens if there is a catastrophic flood?

Hard Drive Data

4.  Every digital copier has a hard drive that is used for scanning, printing, faxing and copying.  Latent data is (Latent data is any data that the operating system no longer accesses or uses. It includes deleted files and, more importantly, information or metadata about the deleted files. This metadata is often available long after the files have been deleted and overwritten).

The rep that does not address the return of wiping of the drive and is leaving the client at risk.

  • Did the rep explain to the client the process of returning the existing hard drive to the client?
    • Will the rep or the upgrading dealer give the client a certification document that the drive has been wiped?

Returning the Copier

5.  At the end of the lease and the client has completed their obligation to the leasing company.  The copier will be returned to the leasing companies facility. If the copier is damaged or is not running properly the leasing company has the right to charge the client for the repairs. It's a good idea to take pictures or have a video just in case.

  • Did the rep explain this to the client?  probably not because most reps do not read the lease to know the risk to the client?
    • Did the rep recommend to the client to take a video of the copier to make sure there was is no damage to the copier when it was picked up?
    • Did the rep also recommend the client to take a video of the copier making prints?
    • Who pays if the copier was damaged or not stored properly?

Closing

It's not an easy process and everything has to go perfect so the client is not saddled with additional payments or risk.  There is no training manual and  there is no book of rules for the reps and the clients. I learned much of this with trial and error.  A seasoned pro will making sure it all happens the right way and in a timely process.

Right, one more thing to think about when changing vendors and Upgrading Your Copier Early.

What happens if the copier company goes out of business?

-=Good Selling=-

4 Things To Do With a Virtual Appointments

Today I had a late meeting with an existing production account.  My client was interested in other print technologies that he might want to move into.  It was more about starting a new profit center with some new products.  Right now we're just in the show and tell phase.

So, a couple of things that I did that made a smooth virtual appointment.

1.  I changed my background with MS Teams to include a picture of our flatbed color wide format. I was surprised how good it looked and just having the picture in the back ground generated some additional questions.

2.  I had another support person in our meeting to answer some of the questions that I wouldn't be able to.  Having that additional expert in the virtual meeting showed the client that we are experts just like our client is in his craft.  We have the expertise to bring the right people to the conversation!

3. I had emailed the client our agenda for the meeting a few days earlier. In that agenda I included links for the products that we thought would help educate the client with different avenues of print.  During the meeting I shared my screen which was set to google,  from their I clicked the links I had in the agenda.  It proved to me a very smooth going from product to workflows.

4.  My support person is awesome, however from time to time he can tend to talk the production language. For some reason I knew my client was lost with some of the technical words,  thus I entered the conversation and took the time to educate out client on some of the terms.  Educate, educate and take our time because it's a teaching experience.

By the end of the meeting I was able to develop one hot lead and multiple warm leads and there's a good shot the $20K hot lead could happen in the next few weeks.

-=Good Selling=-

Death of the Direct Copier Channel? "part two"

Thought this would be an interesting re-post from the old blog site.  In addition there are some great responses.  Enjoy

Death of the Direct Copier Channel? "part two"

Last week I blogged the "Death of the Direct Copier Channel", in less than one week there were over 1,400 views.  I'm guessing we hit a hot spot with many of those in the Direct and Dealer Channel.

The Print4Pay Hotel forums also posted many comments like

"Wow - it's like Ricoh coughed up a hairball!"

"Since IKON / RBS has not been able to upgrade the Canon / Ricoh IKON MIF that was the intent of the acquisition, they are now selling off the base to mega Dealers. But RJ Young will upgrade these 6,000 units to Canon machines and Muratec devices. Ricoh is having extensive back-order issues at present time."

"I doubt that they will upgrade to all Canon devices that would not have been in the best interest for Ricoh. That acquisition is now approaching four years old (Ricoh of Ikon). I agree with the back order issues however so are other manufacturers as well. It's not only Ricoh!"

"In the grander scheme of things 6000 machines in field is nothing to Ricoh. Those branches must have really been sucking wind to only have 6000 machines."

But a few interesting threads were posted yesterday that seemed to stir the pot for manufacturers that may be shedding branches and ceding more business to dealers.  One Print4Pay Hotel member stated that they heard that OCE Canada had released all of the sales reps except for one,  and more interesting is that the one rep had to report to someone in Florida.  It was listed as the Great White North shakeup.  Additionally, another member has now stated that Canon Direct closed a small office in Nova Scotia and handed over operations to a local dealer.

With most manufacturers declaring that they are reducing profit estimates or even posting losses for fiscal year 2011, the writing may be on the wall for the Direct Channel.  I'm not saying that the Direct Channel will cease to exist.  However what's a manufacturer to do when they are posting losses... with any good business model they would try to eliminate or reduce that part of the business which has become a liability.  With no good news for the economy in the short term, the threat of Europe recession and the strength of the yen, the copier manufacturers will have to make some tough decisions in the near future.

Selling off those Direct branches that are not turning a profit could be a great model and return the manufacturers to profitability in 2012 along with increasing dealer loyalty.  With RJ Young not only did they get MIF (machines in field), they also got employees (pretty much these employees probably won't have to get worried about getting laid off at the end of every March).

Just maybe, when we look at a time line of the copier industry in 20-25 years, we'll see a blip that designated the wholesale changes to the Direct Channel model and then the decrease back the the Dealer Channel model of business.

What come around goes around and I'm thinking just maybe we're heading back to the model of the early and mid eighties.

After writing this blog,  I read the interview that Scott Cullen (The Week in Imaging) had with Chip Crunk (CEO of RJ Young) titled "Chip Crunk Talks about RJ Young's Acquisition of Ricoh Direct Branches" .  Well, I'm thinking great minds think alike and I found this the most interesting statement, "I think the industry is in a transition where in the future the distribution model is going to be large independents and the direct operations. I think Ricoh and the others are going to want to align themselves with the top independent dealers in the secondary markets because they cannot be successful in those markets".


-=Good Selling=-

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2021 The Year in Review "WTF"

In recent days I've seen many in our industry looking to post some type of content for the end of the year.  The last two to three weeks has been horrid for those that follow our industry and need that daily dose of press releases to be relevant. Many have taken to some less than exciting interviews as well.

Truth of the matter is that much of the content is not something that I want to read about, and especially I don't want to read about how many hits your content has gained, or what were your top press releases for 2021.

There's a couple of us that put original content out on a daily and weekly basis, we know who they are.

2021

The year is over, it's not past history in sales.  We all understand that we are only as good as our last day, week, month, quarter or year.  Thus looking back does nothing!

2022

If you want to write then let's write about 2022 and how 2022 is going to another kick ass year.

Let's put on on creative hats and think about what 2022 can be rather than looking back on a year that is NO MAS!  Give us ideas, hope and let's get out of the box and make 2022 a fantastic year!

Look for our prognostications for 2022 on January 3rd!

-=Good Selling=-

Sometimes the Loudest Person in the Room Does Not Win

I've been quite for the past 30 selling days.  In past years I would pen blogs about the last 90 - 30 selling days left in the year.   I felt those journal type blogs would not only help me but would also help others that may need that extra jolt of energy to go out there and prospect.  Some would say if you need a jolt to get your sales mojo going then you shouldn't be in sales.

I'm on the other side for the fence on this one and say that after a year like this,  a jolt or a blog from someone else doing the same thing you're doing could be the positive impact you need.

Career

This year like last year has proven to be one of the two most challenging selling years in my career.  I would only hope that I've been able to help others with the many blogs I've written this year about my selling escapes and exploits.

With my recent event (stroke) back in late August I've been a little more reserved and taken more time to listen to much of the chatter in our industry.  We all learned at a young sales age that listening and reading is the key to winning.  Constant chatter or being the loudest person in the room will not resonate with your clients or your peers.

Since the start of September I've quietly went about my business after my event.  It was not about how many calls I made, nor was it about how many appointments I set.  It was more about creating opportunities, working those opportunities and being patient with those clients.  Many were lost but just as many were won.

If someone asked my how the last four months went I would tell them that it was the quietest four months I've ever put together. I would also tell them that in the past where there was a race to end of the year. This year was more like gliding into the end of year.  As I took the pressure off my self, everything got easier, or more like everything working opportunity fell the right way.

Content

Earlier today I had some gmail alerts about content from another industry rag that was writing content about how many views their content had during the year and where that content placed for the year.  That type of content is just like being the loudest person in the room!

Please if you every see me writing content like that please be the first to tell me to hang it up and retire.

December 23rd

My 2021 sales event ends on Thursday of this week. I'm thrilled that I can still offer up some content for everyone that's related to selling and our industry.

I'm waiting on one order that should come in tomorrow or today.  That order will get me goal for the year and it will give my my best revenue year to day.  I still get pumped when I get what I want.

I guess if you're in sales and you have no wants or expectations about you want then it's time to pack it up.

Special thanx to everyone and I mean everyone who helped me this year and I couldn't have finished the year without your support.  All of you know who you are!

=Good Selling=-

We expect to make a decision in late January

Hello Art,

We expect to make a decision in late January.

Regards

Okay, I received that email response and it's typical to the way the last two months has been for me.  Each month is a bear and each month has it's on conditions that I need to wade through.

I was kinda of upset and I blame that on me because I thought everything looked good to get this deal that week or the week after.  I should have clarified when the client will be buying and or making a decision.  A dumbass rookie mistake by someone who is no rookie.

But, I thought there is still a chance to make this happen for this year.  Rather than call the client I got out the creative juices to craft and email that I thought would resonate with the client.

My Email to the client:

Understood, the reason I asked is because of existing supply chain issues.

I don’t think you can speed up your process for the time line of ordering the copier, however I thought I would let you know the status of our industry. It seems to be getting worse rather than better.

One rep from Kyocera emailed me this morning and stated they have 6 Million Dollars in back orders with no immediate end in site.

Stratix is better off than most because we are taking a proactive approach with telling our existing and potential clients of what can be done so clients can receive their equipment within their timeline.

Supply Chain Tips:

  • Order early (leave at least 8 – 12 weeks for delivery
  • If you ordered a device that prints at 30 pages per minute, consider looking at a 25 page per minute print device or a 35 page a minute print device. That 5 page difference may save a couple of weeks
  • Ask if there is an additional incentive to order early from the dealer

Hope this helps

-=End=-

It was ten minutes later when I received and email from the client asking additional questions about delivery times, supply chain.  At the end of the call the client and I scheduled a demo for the  device which is happening this Wednesday. In addition the client stated she can work some issues to order this month.

It's never not over, keep asking and keep plugging away.

In my email I stated that I don't think you can order early and then proceeded to help the client on her quest.  I believe this worked in my favor.

-=Good Selling=-

The Race to Zero is Over

I can't decide if this will be one of those longer blogs or maybe one of the shorter ones.  It's after 10PM and I just finished all of the P4P Hotel updates.

What I wanted to write about is my thoughts and ideas about what our industry calls the "Race to Zero".  I'm sure the phrase was coined sometime and some place long ago.  For the last 25 years we've used that phrase quite often to explain a brief explanation of the copier service business model.

It's my belief that the "race to zero" is over for those that want it to be over.  I heard a recent conversation about a bid for copiers/MFP's where the service and supply cost was at .002.  That dealer principal stated that they believed the dealer needed to win the bid because of decreased COVID revenue.

That previous statement sends a salvo to my message that the race to zero is now over.  However I'd like to point out my thoughts as to why I believe what I do.

1.  Inflation is now hovering around 5%.  Everything is going up, heck when my wife got back from the supermarket last week she told me a 1lb package of bacon was $10.  We all understand that everything is going up and why not increase our maintenance and service costs now, because we're going to need it very soon.

2. Our industry has a technician problem with aging techs (many are boomers and gen x).  Many of those younger techs are now leaving the industry because they are being offered jobs that pay more, have better benefits and they don't have to travel to multiple offices every day and may get exposed to Covid.  Our industry will need to increase our pay rate and benefits to offset the loss of existing techs and create some type of program to bring younger people into our industry. Which means we'll have to increase our pricing for copier/mfp products and services.

Just a thought here, maybe it's time to offer tiered service response time. We offer clients guaranteed service response times for x price for x amount of hours.  Two hour response is an extra $100 per month, 4 hours for $50, 6 hours our regular charge. 

3. Staying with the technician issue,  I believe that many of the dealerships that are not diversified will not weather the storm.  Decreased page volumes, increased inflation along with the loss of techs that can't be replaced will sound the alarm that many of these dealers will need to fish or cut bait.  Many will choose the later and cut the bait to sell what they have an get out while they can. Thus the need to increase our revenue to prepare for additional acquisitions.

4.  With the age of Covid mixed with another year of supply chain issues, clients that need print devices are not as concerned about cost per page (maintenance/supply agreements), nor the price of the device but are fixed on how soon can we get our device.  Thus there's an opportunity to increase prices as long as the dealer has the equipment available for both maintenance/supplies and GP margin.

5. Many clients in the last 18 months have experienced the ravages of COVID with our industry. There was a time when many clients were not in the office but there were many companies that were deemed as essential companies. Those essential were open and conducting business and having to work with many dealers that furloughed or laid off technicians.  Many of those techs never came back and many of the clients remember what they went through to get someone on-site in a timely manner.  Those essential clients became service/response sensitive and understood that there is a price to pay for better support.  Better service and support commands a premium for that business.

There will still be many dealers that will play in the Race to Zero as we move to the end of 2021 and into 2022 especially for RFPS and bids.

I believe everything has changed during the last 18 months, what was up is now down and what was down is now up. Dealers that are well financed, well endowed with faithful employees and offering diversified products will be able to write their own successes.

-=Good Selling=-

My Bucket List Before I Retire from the Copier Industry

I wrote this 7 years ago and made a few changes to keep up with the times

Almost 41 years ago that copier tech job that I landed did not work out for servicing copiers. On that fate full day I was told I do a great job at taking the copiers apart but not so good at putting them back together.

The dealer principal pulled the Columbo close on me as I was about to leave his office. Guess I struck a nerve and I was offered a job to sell copiers.....and I never stopped.  I was never was a slacker and had this thought that I was never really good at anything however I could be great at selling copiers.  Many years later I had this silly notion that I wanted to make my name synonymous with the copier industry as xerox is to a copy.  What a pipe dream eh?

Thus now that I'm on the downward trend of my career there are still some things that I'd like to accomplish and maybe somethings that I'd like to see happen before I exit (not saying that's going to happen any time soon).  But here's my list:

  • I'd like to have one day of door to door cold calling with out seeing a "no soliciting sign" or dealing with a rude gatekeeper.
  • I'd like a prospect to tell me this, "we like you, we like your product but we think your price is to low, how about we increase the lease payments by a hundred dollars a month if we sign the deal today"!
  • I'd like to get a lead a day for the next 30 days, with no prospecting involved.
  • I'd like to go an entire year where I've reached my monthly quota by the second week of every month.
  • I'd like to nail my yearly quota by the end of the second quarter of next year.
  • I'd like every prospect to call me back after the first message I left for them.
  • It would be awesome to tell at least one cheap, tight ass prospect that I don't want to do business with you.  (I did this recently)
  • For one week, I'd like to make an appointment with every cold call I made that day.  Heck, I could have a months worth of appointments in one day.
  • I'd like to have one month were all my commission reports were correct in my favor.
  • Last but not least, I'd like to be able to get an order for 100 systems in one order, heck I'd even take 50 but then I'd want a hundred.



Enough said. Actually one more item, when I was let go with the copier tech position the owner of the company asked me a parting question. He stated "let me ask you one question", he reached into his pocket and pull out a wad $100 bills and stated "which would you rather do, work the rest of the week days for what's in my hand or would you rather try to talk me out of it"?  

Now I thought to my self that my mamma did not raise a fool and I tried for what seemed like 30 minutes., I never talked him out of the money however I was offered the job in sales....hmmmm, maybe this should happen more often on interviews???

-=Good Selling=

Our Copier Industry & The Hits Keep Coming

It's basically the end of October and another year is set to hit the books for most of us. Tomorrow starts the first day of November for me and this is my final push to see where I can finish for 2021.
I wrote these notes last night for my weekly email update below and I've added a few additional thoughts. Keep in mind that I'm still having some issues with proofing (lol, I think I always did but now I have something to tag it on )

State of the Industry

The other day I had a long discussion with my long time buddy Larry K, and I made mention that in my 41 years in the industry I've never seen our industry take this many hits like we have in the last 18 months.  I don't need to rehash every instance of those 18 months but we understand it's been a mighty struggle.
My Concerns/Sales
I have some serious concerns about our industry. First and most important is the continued back ordering of devices and my concern for many of us that make our living in sales. For as long as I remember it's been a commission based compensation with a meager salary.  I like to equate the pay structure as getting waiter/waitresses pay and we're all in this for the commissions because the pay structure would never support the families.

Commissions

If you're only paid when MFPs are delivered and funded then receiving commissions become a waiting game. My question becomes who has the bigger bucks to hold out for the MFPs to be delivered.  The dealer owners or the sales people? This is not meant to rag on dealer owners and I understand the issue at hand that we all face. I would just hate to see our industry lose talented sales people and can only hope that dealers will find ways to help sales people with additional comp or draws to get us all through these times.
Concerns/Techs
I've always seen techs as an aging bunch (just like me) because I don't hear of or see many 20 something technicians. Lately I've heard from multiple dealer owners that they've had many techs leave the copier industry and take jobs out of the industry.   The reason recent frenzy of hiring and compensation offers in the last 6 months. Many of these dealers can't find techs to fill the voids.
Forty one years ago I was hired as a trainee for a copier service school. The school was a 16 week course and at the end of the course that company found every tech a job (of course it was entry level).  The program was run in conjunction with the local government county. The program was funded by the feds along with county peeps and the dealer to facilitate the training program.
When it was all said and done that dealership ran 4 or 5 classes graduating around 120 techs. To boot we were paid an amazing $3.15 per hour.
I wanted to mentioned this because maybe this might be an idea that may help others. I know the entry level position will not fill the entire void, however it's a start.

Copier Inflation

A few more thoughts,  one of the easiest ways to keep the existing techs is to make sure they are paid well and compensated well.  I'm thinking instead of seeing the race to zero we will now start seeing the increase for cost per page, maintenance agreements, and hourly charges.  It could also be a blessing as long as we can finally stop the raise to zero.

Hardware/supply prices are already up and some as high as 10% and we'll see higher prices if the container prices continue to increase for the next year.

Do you recall the idiom "the straw that broke the camel's back", it was more about a number of issues or events that finally added up to the breaking point?  At this time I'm not so sure how many straws we can take.

-=Good Selling=-
Looking for a Greener Pastures?
I have a well respected dealer principal that is looking to higher trained Canon technicians for the Salem, Virginia area. They are willing to extend relocation costs and offer an excellent comp program. I've been to his location and the area is beautiful. A great area of the country, and a great area to raise a family! Please follow this link and contact Paul Story Sr.

Jail Break and I'm Out of Cardiac Jail

Actually I've been waiting to get out of Cardiac Jail for the last thirty days!

I was finally sprung mid-afternoon on Friday the 8th and I decided to take a couple of days from posting anything on the Print4Pay Hotel and social media for the weekend.

After my first stent (3) procedure it's been more about just trying to pace with work and all of the changes in my life. Yes, things had to change and it was more about how I had to change.  During those days there wasn't much I could do rather then sending and answering emails along with a few phone calls.

Make of those calls in the first days was though and I was doubting my ability due to my loss of words and train of thought. I was promised by my Neurologist that as time passed I would get back to my excellent communication ways in 5-12 months. It's now 2 weeks short of two months and I feel I'm getting mentally stronger each day.

My VP

In the beginning I had some time with my VP of Sales (Tim) and I enjoy what we've developed over the years.  It will be sad for the one day when I finally decide to pack in the retirement watch one day .

In the early days of my stroke I had a chat with Tim about my Neurologist about what I've lost mentally. It was more about a game of word association like "name five types of fish", then "give me five movies you've recently watched". There is no doubt was pretty poor at the start of the game. In fact,  I was maybe naming one of the five for each category and that stated to worry me.

My second track with the Neurologist was centered around work.  What I remember and what I don't remember and not remembering is the toughest part when you're not being asked questions.  However I asked the "Dr" can you ask me these questions about work.  We centered on sales and prospecting to start. First question up was asking me about my sales job and believe it or not everything was perfect!  I had no loss of memory for anything related to work and my sales job. Whew, that made be feel so much better

The next question asked me to tell me 5 things about prospecting...........such a crucial part of my job it is. I tracked a zero for answering any questions about prospecting, in fact my wife (she was there also) gave me a hint and tried jogging me with a cell call to kick start the prospecting.

That hint failed also, and it's obvious that I had a problem larger that I thought.  I had forgotten how to prospect even on the phone! My on my, forty plus years of prospecting out the door!  After a couple of hours we finally finished with my Dr.  as he supplied me with a note for Tim my VP of Sales.

"Please excuse Art from all activities of prospect and especially by the phone,  because has lost the ability to recall any level of prospecting".

Now that's a good one and yes that's a joke that I spoke about in the early days, there was no note and Tim was a great sport about my shenanigans.

Prospecting

There are days when I can go ten rounds when sparring with a verbal chat and there are other days when I'm lucky if I can go one.

I am lucky because I can see that I am getting better and that helps the process.

The Future

I'm not sure where my future lies right now. Three months ago I would have stated I'd be doing this for another 20 years.  I know that I still love what I do and don't plan to stop it, however time and GODS will may take me down other paths.

I do need to thank my wife again and again for all of her support and he love.

-=Good Selling=-

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