Sales

Why a Copier Salesperson Loves to Sell DocuWare

You probably don’t know me but I’ve been in the industry now for over 20 years and have been fortunate to be successful selling Canon, Ricoh and Kyocera products in both hardware and software sales.

I remember when I started it was all about hardware. I used to say “black and white paid the bills and color sent me on vacation”. Back in those days a color sale would be $40,000 plus and would always be a generous commission. I remember speaking with another colleague of mine back then who had been in the industry for many more years than I and told him “ I wanted to be a color specialist”. His response was why “would you want to only sell color”? Those words rang true and I learned much from him in our years together.

I’m guessing your dealership has a document management networking team that supports sales for products like Docuware. Long ago I realized this gave me another arrow in my quiver and allowed me to position myself as an expert salesperson in our industry. Why would I just want to sell Canon, Kyocera and Ricoh when I have other software applications to offer my clients?

At first the sale may seem daunting as it is a far cry from feeds and speeds. I suggest you take the time and learn two different departments. Accounts payable and Human Resources. It doesn’t matter the industry, these departments function almost identical in every business and if you could “speak their language” you’ll unlock the door to more sales.

In my experience these sales are also very profitable as they replace labor which is often an exceptionally high cost for business. So… look around your clients and prospects offices and see if you can find boxes of paper (which I’m sure you will). Ask about Accounts Payable and Human Resources and you will find opportunities that will help businesses streamline their processes, make them more efficient and profitable and will rely on you as their trusted business partner.

Bring in your Docuware representative or network specialist and listen to the language they use. Once you’ve done it a few times you can approach any business and add value.

 Monte Jensen

Note from Art:  Monte has been a Print4Pay Hotel longer than I can remember. I'm thinking 15 years at least. Monte is one my peeps in my inner circle of connections in the industry. We try to chat at as often as possible. Monte is the real deal and has a wealth of experience to share and I thanked him for sharing this blog with us today.  Thanks again Monte! 

Why Product Knowledge Can Vault You to Success

Would you agree or disagree with this statement? "You can have the best sales skills in the world, however, if you don't know your product you won't sell a damn thing".

I'm a firm believer in the above, excellent product knowledge has allowed me to be extremely successful selling print devices.  I feel bad for those sales peeps have the cheapest or lowest price along with zero product knowledge. The end result is guy and gals like me will eat them for lunch.

LinkedIn is full of sales guru's touting relationship building, sales gimmicks, being genuine, but none of this works if you don't know your products. I'm not saying they are wrong, but there's no one preaching product knowledge anymore.  Product knowledge about what your device can and can't do, along with interpreting how that will help your client will go a long way in winning an order.

Product Guides

I'll admit, I'm not a big book reader, but every chance I get I'll read the product guides about the devices that I sell.  Back in the eighties there were no product guides. In order to learn more about your copiers or your competitors copiers it was key to read the operators manual .  Reading the operators manual is still a good idea when you're not sure what the brochure means.  Meaning sometimes we read about a feature and interpret it the wrong way.  It happens more often than not because of those crafty marketers.  The operator manual does not lie and walks you through the feature and how it works.

The Appointment

Picture this, a sales person enters the appointment and has excellent rapport with the buyer.  That sales person is genuine, and extremely likable.  The buyer has already gathered much of the information that they required on the web.  The buyer now wants to ask a few questions about the device that they couldn't find answers to.  Those questions at the appointment go unanswered with the reply that I'll have to get back to you. Sales person exits.

Our next salesperson has all of the same characteristics of the first sales person.  When it comes to answering the questions of the buyer, this sales person is able to answer all of the questions along with giving advise about those configurations.  Who do you think is going to win the order?

Tips for Increasing Product Knowledge

  • First things first, read the darn brochure of the product you are selling.  If you don't understand something then ask one of your peers or even put a thread here on the Print4Pay Hotel. Some one will help you.
  • If you know who your competitor and the brands they are selling, read their brochures and see where there are differences. If you have a question then this site is a great place to post that question.
  • Every MFP from every manufacturer sports a product guide.  These guides go in depth about the features of the device and how they can help the end user. Read your product guides.
  • Read your competitors product guides, these may be a little tougher to get but they're out there and all you need to do is ask.
  • Maybe you have senior rep at your office, maybe someone like me that has too much knowledge and is willing to part with it.  Ask and ye shall receive.
  • YouTube Videos, it's all there almost everything you need about your devices and the competition. Excellent resource!

Finding the Time

  • Smart phones is probably the best tool I ever had.  Use them to your advantage.
  • Do your research at lunch.  Instead of eating with a buddy, go private and take the time to learn.
  • You arrived at the appointment early, instead of checking Instagram, Facebook or SnapChat, dial (lol dial) up the web and prepare your self.
  • You arrived early at work today, take a few minutes here too.
  • There's another place where you can steal a few minutes here and there, but we'll leave that up to your imagination.

Knowing Your Technology

I'll probably get some push back on this, but I would bet dollars to doughnuts that if I asked 10 sales people how a printer makes an image.  Seven out of ten would be lost.  That question might not ever be posed to you, but wouldn't be awesome if it was and you could transfer that knowledge to your client?

Sometimes you don't have to like someone to buy from them.  Yes, you do need to trust them.  Would you trust the more knowledgeable sales person than the less knowledgeable sales person.  Yup, I'm thinking more knowledgeable is going to win.

-=Good Selling=-

What do Millennial's, Horse Traders, Amazon, Ricoh MP 501SP all Have in Common?

I'm not sure what the title of this blog will be at this time, and as I get deeper into the story I may come up with it as I write.

About eight months ago I received a lead from my service department about and old Ricoh 1035 that was still in the field. We didn't sell the device new, but somehow ended up as the service provider for a small law firm. No maintenance/supply agreement, just service and bill as needed.

For six months I got not where with phone calls, was never able to get to speak to the DM and was told we'll call you when we're ready.  

Two months ago I decided to pay them an visit while out knocking on doors.  The woman in the office was very friendly, showed me the existing Aficio 1035 and stated that they were just about ready to get rid of that old copier. She asked me to prepare some numbers and she would talk with the DM and schedule a sit down for all of us to review the proposal.  

After asking many questions, and noticing that the Aficio 1035 was not connected to the network, not did they have a need for 11x17 or stapling,  I thought the best product for them would be the Ricoh MP 501SP with two paper trays, OCR, and Ricoh legal ICE.  I figured competition would come in with A3 devices and try to match the speed. It was a good plan, which also included pricing the system at MSRP.

After many follow up calls, the meeting never happened and I shelved the opportunity for another month out.  About 3 weeks ago I call had a call from that office from an intern.  That intern was tasked with gathering information for the acquisition of the new copier.  We had a few calls by cell and then many text messages in reference to the options. all the while I held my price on the MP 501SP.  We then went silent for about two weeks.

Our intern called and wanted to know why my price was so high? I asked "compared to what", that's when I was informed that he was also pricing the same unit from Amazon. I gave the intern all of the value points and still didn't drop in price, except that I eliminated the OCR and the Ricoh ICE because he believed it was not needed. Okay, so I thought I'm not playing this game any more, I called him back the next day and reduced the price by a few bucks just so I could get this off my plate. 

A FEW DAYS LATER, the intern called and left me a message thanking me for the quote and they were going in another direction. I was happy!  I could move on to bigger and better things.

A few days ago I received an email from the same intern.  Seems like they can't get the MP 501SP from Amazon for 30 days or so, and was asked if my price was still the same.  Okay, it's back in my lap,  it's an A3 and it was deleted from my opportunities for the month. This should be quick and easy. I responded with a yes as long as we can wrap it up this week. A few days of silence and I had a call from the women (intern went back to college) I meet many months ago.  They would like to move forward, however they already received the MP 501SP paper tray via Amazon. Could I take that off the price (she also provided with me a part number, how nice). I looked up the part number on google and and saw what they paid. I responded and told her I could take the paper tray office, but would only lower the price by $200, they paid $276. She was fine with that. I delivered the paperwork for the purchase, they signed and sent it back. Done!

I'm in the office early Friday and along comes an email from the DM asked me to remove the stand from the quote because they had ordered the cabinet from another supplier.  He stated that they paid $187 for the cabinet and wanted me to reduce that price.  I was like no way am I taking off that much. After a little research I realized they bought the wrong stand, they needed the smaller stand for two paper trays. I told that to the DM and also stated that if he wants me to remove the stand I can take out eighty more dollars.

That worked I got the revised paperwork, copy of the check.  Done again!

What's the moral of the story here? Maybe don't buy from Amazon, or don't let a millennial take charge of buying stuff?  After all of this,  the intern used the internet for all of the pricing. Bought the MP 501SP from one supplier, the paper tray from another and the cabinet from yet another supplier.  My God is this what the future holds for this generation? I thought out loud in the office and exclaimed the intern was more like a silent horse trader. Just searching for the best possible price an oblivious to the value that is provided by a dealer.

Thus, there you have it, if a client tells you there're buy from Amazon, you could make them aware of the wait or just let them buy from Amazon.  Oh, one more thing, at one point the intern had asked me if he bought from Amazon would we provide service for the MP 501SP.  I flat out told him NO.

-=Good Selling=-

A Few Copier Vignettes from the Late Eighties & Nineties

The picture in the header showed our demo room back in either 1989 or 1990, might have even been 1991.  As you can see by the photo Atlantic Office Systems (the first one in NJ) was Authorized for Adler Royal, Brother, and Tele VaxaFax (facsimile).  Sometime later Adler Royal was purchased by Mita and the Adler Royal brand was changed to Copystar. I thoroughly hated the name Copystar because there was no brand recognition, at least with Adler Royal, our clients knew about Royal typewriters.

We were never a big dealer, I did most of the sales while my other partner handled the technical work.  From time to time I had to dig in and do a few service calls when we were swamped.  Not being a large dealer enabled us to make timely decisions and offer products that were in high demand. Back in the early nineties we were still selling analog copiers and improvements came at a much slower pace than today's digital copiers. 

We had two PC's in the office.  One was used for accounting (peach tree) and the other was used for sales.  The computer that we used in account was connected to a dot matrix printer and we were running carbonless forms for our invoices. 

Back then, I thought we were on top of technology when we sold our first fax machine (Tele Vaxafax).  The MSRP was $2,495 and the auto feeder was an option.  Once we added the document feeder, and delivery/installation we were able to get to $3,000.  Three thousand dollars was the  magic number to offer leasing to our clients.  We got a little creative and placed a display ad in our local county newspaper for the Teli's.  We advertised them at $1.99 a day to lease.  Probably one of the best ideas we had.  We were selling more faxes than copiers.  At one point we were at one every day (we were also open on Saturday mornings till 1PM).  What we didn't realize is the volume of thermal roll paper that followed. Every month we were ordering full skids of thermal paper along with a skid of fax machines.  Yes, those were some great times.

As the fax market matured and pricing eroded we found ourselves placing more of the Brother fax machines over the Teli's. 

It was about 1993 or so when we purchased our first color copier.  That copier was manufacturer by Brother, was very slow and used some type of ribbon transfer technology (no toner or ink).  I think we were selling color copies (singles) for $5.00 each.  At one point we hooked up with a sales rep for Gillette, he had to make copies of his presentation in color for his clients.  He was in a three of four times a month and needed almost 100 copies every time (we discounted to $3.00 each for his volume).  Back then Hulk Hogan was hired for their advertising campaign back then.  My son was so excited the day that client brought in a signed Hulk Hogan press photo.  I believe my son still has that pic.  Yes, great times to be selling.

Another client that I remember was some guy who came in on a regular basis to send faxes during the late eighties.  His faxing pattern was quite unique because he was always sending faxes to places like Panama, Afghanistan, San Salvador, Iran & Iraq.   I thought he was kinda screwy also because he always had to send his own faxes.  He would not let us see them.   After maybe a year ago or so he opened up and told us he was an arms dealer. All of those faxes turned out to be purchase orders and invoices for his business. WOW, I would have never guessed it! 

I do remember that he invited me to go with him on a trip to Afghanistan when the Russians were departing. He told me about the riches that could be gathered such as rugs, gold, and antiquities.  He stated that we would be away for three weeks and he would give me training on how to use a weapon.  Well, that sealed the deal for me, there was no fracking way I'm going to a war torn country and having this butt head leave me there or get shot. I had the great sense to opt out.  I never saw that guy again, I'm guessing he went and never came back.  One of my better decisions in the copier industry I guess.

Another neat story from back then came from another guy who frequently visited our office in 1993 & 1994.  He was the President of a chemical plant in NJ (we got a crap load of those).  He stated he had closed his plant and was looking for someone to sell everything in the place.  Whoa, that was right up my alley.  The site was like a time capsule, one day they just locked the doors with everything in it.  There were copiers, desks, chairs, printers, fax machines, tables, file cabinets, paper,  high end furniture and all of the hardware that used to produce the chemicals they made.

Every Saturday and Sunday I was there four about six months. I sold almost everything, even brought in a large fork lift to remove a huge Xerox copier from the second floor. If I remember correctly I got $5K for that son of a gun.  It was not until late in the six months that I began exploring the chemical part of the plant.  There was copper, aluminum, steel, vats, filters, the place was loaded.  I admit I was kind of naïve about chemicals plants.  I later found many puddles of a silver liquid substance on the concrete floors, the substance proved to be Mercury.  I asked the owner about it and he told me Mercury was used to make chlorine. Frak, the place made chlorine?   It was not until I finished (made a ton of cash) that I found out I was selling crap from a site that labeled as a NJ Superfund site (toxic dumping went on their for years).  I later investigated the owner and found that he was indicted for some pollution thing.  Seems he needed to raise additional funds for his defense.  I believe he was found guilty many years later, however, at that time he was probably in his late seventies.   Never heard from him again either. 

There you have it, a few vignettes from my early days in the copier industry.

Special thanx to Polek & Polek for sponsoring this blog!

polek banner

-=Good Selling

It's 5PM Do You Know Where Your Best Sales People Are?

I'm with you, in recent years it's been tougher and tougher to get through to DM's (decision makers) to schedule that first appointment.  In some cases it's taken me a hundred plus calls and many years of trying to get the DM on the phone.  The good thing about the 100 plus calls is that by the time I do get the DM on the phone they definitely know what I'm calling about.

Gatekeepers are better than ever, and the thought of potential phone scams keep them vigilant in their quest to not let you through.

There's much talk in sales about building relationships and that's all well and good as long as you can make contact with the DM. You can't start or build that relationship until you've made first contact.

You can't sell everyone is something you always here in sales, and I believe it's the same for building relationships. Not everyone you meet or greet is going to want to build a business relationship.  Thus it's the numbers game that can really increase your opportunities and your potential business relationships.

So where are your best sales people after 5PM?

1) They're still out in the field making cold calls!  One thing that I've noticed is that many gatekeeper leave in between 4:30PM - 5PM.  If you're in the field making calls after 5PM, it's a good shot the doors will still be open.  Most likely you'll trip over the DM as you scout your way around the office to find someone.

Instead of starting your day at 8AM.  Why not start your day at 9AM and work still 6PM, with the last two hours of the day dedicated to calling on those that you can't land the DM on the phone. It makes sense right?

2) Other sales peeps are attending and working at charity events.  There's nothing better than meeting that influential person while they're volunteering their time for a great cause.  Remember the six foot question? That's when you get within six feet of someone that you strike up a conversation and one of your questions is "where do work"? Of course then continue the conversation asking about what their roll is within that company.

3) Still at their desk or parked in a parking (by the beach) lot trying to squeeze in a couple of extra calls on their cell phones after 5PM.  You just never know who will pick up the phone.  Think, if this were your business, wouldn't you be working whenever and wherever you can? 

4) Continuing their education with reading sales books and or learning more about their industry. The web is a great tool because it's open 24 hours a day.  It's those rainy weekends that can give you a great kickstart to the week.  Been there and done that.

5) Continuing education not for sales people but for Professionals such as attorneys, architects, engineers, surveyors.  Each month these associations meet to deliver educational courses to their members so that they can stay up to date for state requirements.  Most associations will accept speakers (as long as they pay for booze or dinner) allow you to speak for 15 minutes and maybe have a small table.

6) Some are even sending emails late into the night.  Can't sleep, nothing will get a DM's attention more than an email sent at 2AM.  That DM can only wish they had that sales person with their company.

It's more about doing the extra work than it is about having fancy lines, trinkets or lame cold call gimmicks.  You need to be where the DM's (decision makers) are and interact with them. Not every stop in will generate a lead or build a relationship.  But from years of experience I can tell you that being in front the DM's if much better than not.

-=Good Selling=-

Special thanks to our friends at Polek & Polek for sponsoring tonight's blog, please make sure you check out their site and their awesome products for copiers

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The Three D's of Selling

During the last ten years, I've been delighted to help rookies/newbie’s or whatever you'd like to call new people that are breaking into Managed IT, Copiers and Managed Print Service industry.

I'm not a manager or owner (was an owner once) of a dealership; I work down the street accounts (SMB) and love what I do!  I enjoy helping new sales people and that's probably because I had no help when I started in sales some 38 years ago. It was nine years ago that I encountered my first sales manager (we'll save that for another blog). For twenty nine of those years, I did not have a "sales manager". My first mentor in copier sales was Jack Carrol, and Jack was one of the owners of Century Office Products. When I arrived at Century I already had seventeen years of copiers sales under my belt.

I came from the school of hard knocks. Not everyone knows what I’m about to tell you.  I never attended college, in fact, I never completed the 11th grade. I was out of control in High School because I had always asked myself why did my birth parents give up on me. My brother and I were adopted at the age of 4 from a foster home somewhere in North Jersey.

My adoptive parents were great! But that feeling that someone gave up on me before they knew me was also rearing its ugly head. At 16 I was asked to leave High School or be kicked out. I choose to leave and found a full-time job working in the produce industry. That job was probably one of the best choices I made because I put in twelve hours days six days a week. In addition, I met my mentor in Sonny Green (owner), over the years he taught me how to work.  Knowing how to work is not about just being at work, but more about doing productive work once your primary job is completed.

I’m in the later stages of my career in the copier industry today. I’m extremely happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish in the industry. It was twenty years ago that I came to the conclusion that I wanted to do more than just sell copiers. I wanted the recognition that I wanted to be the best rep wherever I worked.

I used my desire, determination, and dedication to achieve most of my goals in those twenty years. It wasn’t easy, it was hard work, long hours and also putting in time on weekends (I still do that) that led to my success. Thus, I put this blog together to help those that come after me, and for those that want to aspire to greatness. 

As many of you know our industry is constantly changing, whether it's hardware, software, cloud solutions, and document management. Nothing stays the same for long!

What are the 3D's?

Put them in any order you want, it takes all THREE to be successful in any industry. DESIRE, DEDICATION & DETERMINATION

So, what is DESIRE?

–verb 1. to wish or long for; crave; want. 2. to express a wish to obtain; ask for; request: The mayor desires your presence at the next meeting. –noun 3. a longing or craving, as for something that brings satisfaction or enjoyment: a desire for fame. 4. an expressed wish; request.

DESIRE For me, it's the craving to be the best at what I do.  I enjoy the recognition, I still get a charge out of writing an order.  I have complete control of my financial future.  You see, I believe that desire is something you can’t teach, you either have it or you don’t. A pro baseball scout once told me that he can’t teach someone to throw 95mph, however, if you can throw 95mph we can teach the prospects the rest.

Your presentation/meeting is filled with PASSION and you can paint a picture of the future without relying on a power point presentation! Losing is not an option! As Ricky Bobbie put it "If you're not first you're last"!

DEDICATION

noun 1.the act of dedicating. 2.the state of being dedicated: Her dedication to medicine was so great that she had time for little else. 3.a formal, printed inscription in a book, piece of music, etc., dedicating it to a person, cause, or the like. 4.a personal, handwritten inscription in or on a work, as by an author to a friend.

Dedication You'll take the extra time to educate YOURSELF! Rely on no one!  I love what I do. I will outwork you to get what I want and in most cases, I always get what I want.  Our job is not a 9-5 job if you want 9-5 money go work for Burger King. Always ask yourself "Am I working as hard or as smart as I can?"

Even today I’m still dedicated to learning more about sales, and more about the products that I sell and even products that I don’t sell.  You see knowledge is the key to winning orders!  Prospects can relate to salespeople that have a great business acumen, and knowledge of their products plus their competitors.  Fancy gimmicks, and tricks to get the appointments only go so far, if you don’t have the knowledge you wont get the orders.

DETERMINATION noun 1.the act of coming to a decision or of fixing or settling a purpose. 2.the quality of being resolute; firmness of purpose.

Determination When it's a quarter to 5 and you're on your way home, and you pass that business that you've called many times and got nothing, do you continue to go home or do you stop for one more cold call? You're always moving forward with creating your own promotions, following up with calls until you have the answers whether it's good or bad. Selling is similar to playing chess, you're always thinking about the next step, or the next objection and the what if's, determined people always have a plan to get where they want to be.

Thus, after 38 years I still enjoy most of what I do.  There are many days when I'm the optimist and many when I'm the pessimist.  All of us can go through bouts of pessimism in sales.  What I've learned is that every new day brings a new opportunity to sell something or for that phone to ring with a customer or prospect stating "we're ready to place our order!"

-=Good Selling=-

Five Copier Lease Programs That You May Have Forgotten About

Just when you think you have something in the bag, along comes the objection.  My objection came last Friday as I was preparing for the long weekend.  My last stop of the day was to follow up (in person visit) for an objection that I received via email last week.

That objection was "your price is too high". Okay, too high compared to what I thought. I felt like responding via email right away, however, I opted for the visit because you just can't get everything you need with a constant barrage of emails.

After a few minutes I found that the objection was not "your price is too high". The objection turned about to be the lease.  I had quoted a 60 month lease term and due to the scope of work the device would sit somewhat idle for six months of the year. The client did not want to pay for the device if it was not being used.

Thus, how do you respond to resolve the objection?  

In the next moment I found my-self answering that objection with offering up a seasonal lease. A seasonal lease will allow a client to pay six months of payments and have six months of no payments each year. Yes, the cost is much higher, however, the thought of paying for something you are not using carries a bigger heart ache than having a higher payment.  My client had never heard of a seasonal lease and thought that might be the ticket to get the order placed.  Of course, I'll need to contact the leasing company for the rate, and say a short prayer that this will be my answer to complete this order.  Either way, the seasonal lease option answered the objection and we'll have another shot.

The bakers dozen lease is pretty cool to use when you're client doesn't have the funds to purchase and isn't interested in a long term lease. In most cases the objection is paying the interest on that long term lease.  With a bakers dozen lease most vendors will ask for 5-10% of your invoice. It's good to call the leasing company first before you make the offer to the client.  In order to quote the bakers dozen lease, you'll need to take the purchase price and divide by 12.  That amount will be the payment, however, the client will make 13 payments (the client then owns the device at the end of the lease).  You can state that the last payment is the interest payment.    

The annual lease can be a another tool to help close the order. I heard this today from one of my leasing reps.  In most cases it can be used for education accounts that don't want to be involved with making a payment each month.  Since most schools have the funds available, you may want to offer them the annual lease where one payment would be made each year.  Again, consult with your leasing company to see if this is offered.

We all know about the $1.00 purchase option for the end of the lease, however, did you know that you can also offer a10% purchase option?  Back in the eighties the 10% purchase option was the preferred method of the lease transactions.  You can offer this when a client wants a fixed cost at the end of the lease and is wishy washy about whether they would return or buy the copier at the end of lease.  Some DM's just want the peace of mind that they know what the price will be at the end of the term.  

Step Leases have you ever heard of them?  Many leasing companies can offer a step lease program.  These step lease programs can be used to help a client ease into a payment. Do you remember your what your first quarterly quota was, I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that your monthly/quarterly quota has increased over the years.  Same is true of the step lease, the client can start out with low payments, build the business and then they'll be able to pay the higher payments. Payments can vary, call your leasing company for details. Years ago we were placing digital duplicators where the payments were $100 per month for the first 12 months, and each year thereafter there was a increase for the 5 years.

If you don't ask you don't get. We need to have every tool available to us when it comes to objections.  These leasing tools (programs) can help you close more orders, and solidify yourself as the resident copier guru. More importantly you don't have to walk away with a lease objection, you can hold your ground an offer a fix to the objection

If anyone else has heard of other programs, we'd love to hear about them. Please feel free to post in the reply section.

-=Good Selling=-

 

Eight Baseball Idioms for the Office Equipment Industry

The smell of spring is in the air, along with the completion of the first week of the 2018 Major League baseball season here in the US. Last year Chris Polek (Owner of Polek & Polek) and I collaborated with our first baseball themed blog for the office equipment channel. "Nine Innings with Polek & Polek" was a hit  with our readers. Chris & I have teamed  up again for this year blog which uses common baseball jargon and how that jargon translates to the office equipment channel.

Eight Baseball Idioms for the Office Equipment Industry

Spring Training: For those of us that are baseball fans the thought of Spring Training reminds us that Spring is right around the corner and the renewed hope that our team has the chance to be the World Champions.  

Most copier dealerships mark the end of their year with the last calendar day of the year. Typically most opportunities are squeezed, pushed and shoved into that last month of the year. January tends to be a month of starting over or renewing your focus for the new year.

That first week of the January can be your Spring Training. Taking time to cull your CRM, review future prospects and develop a plan to achieve your personal and business sales goals.

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Situational Hitting: Moving the runner over, hit and run, bunt, and the sacrifice fly are different types of hitting that you want to accomplish in different baseball scenarios. These different offensive techniques can power the offense to score runs while making an out.

In sales we can look at prospecting in the same manner. You need to step up to the plate and make things happen with in person visits, and phone calls. More often that not you’ll be making outs, but the continued stepping up to the plate with prospect will produce opportunities for new business. I’m a big believer that if you put in the work, you’ll be surprise what tomorrow will bring you.

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PFP’s (Pitchers Fielding Practice): Believe it or not, most pitchers (and catchers) are the best athletes on the team. In fact most of them probably started at shortstop at the beginning of their baseball career. Playing the position of pitcher has some unwritten rules. Pitchers get out of the way when there’s a popup in or around the pitcher’s mound. They cover first base, when the first baseman has to cover a dribble to his side.

Ever notice how pitchers and catchers report earlier than the other players? It is because they have the most responsibility in the game. It is not just pitching and catching. They control the pace of the game, they give direction on the strategy, and when a ball is in play the pitcher and catcher are always moving around the field to back up throws. It is difficult to see on TV, and when you are at a game you will notice that the pitcher and catcher are active ALL the time. When you think about it, pitchers and catchers responsibilities are very similar to those of leaders and managers.

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Meeting on the Mound:

A new rule this year in baseball is a limit on meetings on the mound, and a time limit. You know those meetings you have been in that never seem to end, or when will we get to the point?

We can learn from this rule. As a manager, your job is to coach your salesperson. Keep your meetings brief by being prepared and having an agenda. Agree on a strategy, and then ACT! Ultimately the most important thing is the immediate action that you take when the meeting is finished.

Can of Corn:  

For those that don’t know baseball, this is an easy to catch fly ball. In our businesses we need to make sure we devote time on the easy tasks that will help grow our business.

The Can of Corn is: focus on your loyal customers; don’t ignore them. It amazes me how many businesses put so much time and resources in only acquiring new customers to grow. Cable companies are a good example of this. Not to single out cable companies, but when you look at their behavior you start to see similar behaviors with many companies and your buying experience. Try this exercise: call five loyal customers today. Thank them for being a loyal customer. Ask them: “Is there anything new that you are working on that you think we could help you?” The answer your customers offer are about to give you new ideas on how you can do more business. They will choose you first because they know, like, and trust you. If your customer brings up an idea that you don’t handle, find a way to connect them with a person or company that can.

Caught Napping:

Caught Napping is the opposite of Can of Corn. Go ahead and ignore those loyal customers while you primarily focus on acquiring new ones, and watch what happens. Your behavior shows those customers that you don’t care that much and they are not important to you. When you do that, your value to these customers erodes, and so does their loyalty to you! Eventually you get the wake-up call that they are leaving you, and doing business with a competitor. When this happens, most people come up with every excuse in the book, except pointing the finger at themselves. Apologize to those loyal customers before it is too late, that you realized that you have not paid enough attention to them as you should, and that is going to change. Focus on treating your loyal customers well, or get Caught Napping. Your choice!

It ain’t over till it’s over: Is one of those famous Yogi Berra quotes. It ain’t over till it’s over means quitting or projecting a defeated attitude is not an option. You always have the chance to win.

Mental toughness is an important part of the game and in your business. There will always be adversity, and when you give up too easily when things get tough, the only thing that gets easier is quitting too early. Another famous Yogism: “90% of the game is half mental.”

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Let The Ball Travel: In baseball this means to let the ball travel a little deeper before you swing because you’re out in front of the ball. I’ll use the term of letting the ball travel when I’ve touched all of the opportunities several times and nothing is moving forward. I then let those accounts sit for a few days or a week with no follow up. During that the let ball travel time, I’ll find time to research prospects and add new opportunities to the pipeline. Keep in mind that your clients are just as busy as you and in most cases the thought of buying office equipment is not their top priority.

I hope these baseball references have helped you re-focus on Spring Training for your business. Let’s PLAY BALL!

Good Selling from

-=Chris Polek & Art Post=-

Memoirs of a Copier Sales Person "Why We Still Knock on Doors"

It's been an interesting three months to start my thirty-eighth year in copiers sales.  I started the year off with some type of fraking bug that kept me down an out for about three weeks.  February ended up good, March was down and April is still waiting to finish.

It was last Wednesday when I looking at my funnel and thought, "this ain't good, there's enough in the funnel but nothing is moving".  That's my hint that I need to put some rubber on the road.  I spent the last part of Wednesday culling my CRM for some planned cold calls.  Seventy-five percent of these were net news that were not co-operating with my phone call efforts, the rest were existing accounts that needed to have a visit.

My goal was to have twenty planned visits and then make a few unplanned visits to additional net news.  I made sure that I grouped then by town and would drive north and then work my way south to finish the day. 

Knocking on doors is a great way to get a birds eye view of existing copiers and finding out who the DM is.  From time to time you even get to see the pain points that businesses have with office equipment.

The first four calls were non eventful. The fifth call (non-planned) had me eye to with a refurbished wide format copier that was just delivered and waiting for install. While at that location one of the influencers took me for a short tour and then elaborated on how they didn't like their A3 Canon copier.  After a few more minutes our talk centered on quoting for a new copier.  Chalk one up for net new opportunity!

After and hour or so I cleared my first town and moved further south to the next group of planned stops.  I was able to knock out at another ten or so stops and a couple of unplanned calls. This group of visits produced no leads, although I did have some eyeballs on existing copiers that were in place.

It's just about 2PM when I arrived for my next group of calls.  It's interesting that out of all of the planned calls, I was not able to generate any opportunities with the twenty planned stops.  I did gather intel for future calls, but not one of them panned out.

It's 3 PM and I spied a construction outfit that I thought might fit the bill for wide format.  Turns out there was no wide format needed, however I got into a conversation with the DM about computers. He told me that he was looking to go back to having a server. I spied this place pretty good, there were four PC's, three A4 MFP's and I questioned the DM on why he thinks he needs a server.  After another 30 minutes I had the DM convinced that Quick Books Cloud, MS Office Suite and DropBox was a better way to save a few bucks.  I told the DM about my DropBox experience and told him that DropBox business was a great way for him to see his tickets (invoices) that other users had created.  Make a long story short, I was asked to submit a proposal for an A4 color device that could scan to DropBox.  There's number two!

Just a few blocks away was another net new account that I've been stopping in for the last ten years or so.  This was not a planned visit, but one of those extra visits.  Low and behold the DM was there, we chatted about business, and the cold weather.  Can't tell you much that happened after that (because I do have competitors that read this blog).  What I can tell you is that I developed an opportunity for $300K that could come down the pike very soon. Woohoo! That's three!

Thinking back, this kind of day doesn't happen that often.  Maybe I'll get one order, maybe none or maybe all three. You just never know what tomorrow will bring as long as you keep working!

-=Good Selling=-

Memoirs of a Copier Sales Person "Stranger Things Can Happen"

Early in the year I stated that 2018 started out poorly, had a very good February and a so so March.  It's only April 3rd and I'm already feeling the squeeze even with 14 selling days selling days left in the month. After years and years of having the month close early. The thought of it being only April 3rd and fourteen selling days left can mess with your sales psyche.

A few weeks ago I'm in as a referral for a net new account.  It's rather large with two color A3 copiers, three hi speed mono copiers, and a couple of other pieces of hardware.  There are four players in the field including the incumbent.  Over years I've found the hardest deals to crack are those deals where the client is satisfied with the incumbents level of service.  That was the case with this net new account.  During the discovery process, I determined that this was going to be a price buyer.  Thus I position my financials to give me the best shot at this $75K opportunity.  I presented our case about a week ago, and I asked the DM where we sat compared with the other three vendors.  I was told that all four quotes are within one hundred dollars per month!  I just found that amazing since I knew the pricing I gave was extremely competitive.  The account ended up staying with the incumbent because they were satisfied with the support, the brand and the level of service.  I can't blame em, I appreciate those accounts that do the same for me.  I was just amazed with all four vendors being so close.

Another appointment for a net new account came last week.  Within  48 hours after meeting with the client they had made their decision.  There was a flurry of re-quoting because that client kept coming back asking to add this and that. I knew I was cooked when the adding of this accessory and that accessory took me to re-quoting.  I knew that some vendor was offering a sweet deal with all the options. The client wanted to make sure they were comparing apples to apples, thus asking for the re-quotes. Plain and simple I did not have position or leverage because of the brand of the existing device.  Another one bites the dust.

Yesterday, I'm with an existing account for multiple placements.  We've had the account for fifteen years. During the discovery process I caught the statement that they'll also be receiving additional quotes. I then fell back to the value points that they've been happy with the brand, the service and the support right?  The answer was yes and I then asked why the need to get additional quotes?  My answer was, "we'd like to know what else is out there".  I left it at that because I know that they've been very satisfied with our services over the years.  Even though they will go out and get additional quotes I know we're in a good position because changing vendors means RISK.  RISK is the unknown when it comes to service, and support.  With this account, I just need to stay the course and let the ball travel.

In my recent Sunday night newsletters I've referenced March Madness in the copier industry.  The end of March marks the year end for most if not all of the copier manufacturers.  Dealers are offered special buy-in prices before the end of the year and in many cases those special prices find their way down to the end user. The same is true with Direct, maybe not as much with the pricing but the end of year to pile on any an all sales to drive the year end numbers.

Am I a fan of March? HELL NO!  It's still cold, it's still snowing or raining.  I'm one happy camper now that March is over and looking forward to a great spring, summer and fall.

-=Good Selling=-

Memoirs of a Copier Sales Person "Differentiating the Price Buyer from the Value Buyer"

Differentiating the price buyer from the value buyer was a conversation I had last week with one of our VIP/Premium Print4Pay Hotel members.

I'll start with why I found this to be an important topic.  If you follow or are connecting with many of the sales soothsayers on Linkedin most of them are missing the point when it comes to selling.  Note I did not mention sales but "selling" which is the act of closing the deal.

Most will say create value, build a relationship, and don't drop your price.  All I can say is WOW, how long have they been out of main stream sales or are they just throwing BS.  There are more "price" buyers now than there ever was.

Differentiate

I'm still in SMB sales after thirty eight years and have found that we (sales people) need to differentiate the price buyer from the value buyer in a short amount of time.

The sooner that you can make that call will enable you to increase your chances to close both the price buyer and the value buyer. There's no need to walk away from the price buyers, identifying the price buyers early allows you to save time in the selling process. With all off the spiffs and bonuses that are available in our industry, the price buyer plays an important role in meeting quotas and achieving bonus levels.

I don't work for free, at times it takes just as much effort to sell one copier as it does to sell five.  However, I also believe it's better to make five dollars than no dollars at all.

If you're in a major market you know how competitive it is out in the field.  Identifying when you can an can't make GP can increase your orders!

How To Make the Call

Over the years, I've learned to use my eyes, ears and a few questions that help me identify what kind of buyer I'm meeting with.

1.  If you're meeting with a "C" level exec, before you go in for the appointment take a short cruise around the parking lot. If the parking spaces are marked for execs check out the types of vehicles in those spots.  Porsche, Mercedes, Range Rover, Maserati, Audi all indicate that someone is a value buyer.  When at the reception desk pose this question, "that's a beautiful Maserati in the lot, who does that belong to?" It may not be the "C" level exec you're going to meet with, but if it is, you've used your "eyes" to help put a check in for the "value" buyer.

2. In most cases I'll ask for a tour when I'm in a larger office when there are multiple copiers.  Yup, we're there to identify the make and model number of each copier, and to check the meters.  Look a little closer to the paper that they use.  Are they using a brand name of paper like Hammermill, or are they using Staples or Office Max paper.  Hammermill or brand name paper puts another check in the "value" buyer.  

3. While you're on the tour you'll most likely see laser printers, in addition to the printers take some time to see what type of toner cartridges they're using.  If you're seeing all remanufacturer cartridges then you'll be putting a check in the "price" buyer.

4. Listen to your client, they will give you clues. One of the clues of a price buyer is that they'll want to rush you through the presentation process. If that's they case a check goes in for the "price" buyer. I've also noted that arrogance and rudeness is also associated with the "price" buyer.

5. Ask these questions in this order.

a. What brand of copiers did you have before these Ricoh copiers?  If they answer Ricoh, that will tell you that they "value" the brand. If they answer with any other brand that will tell you there is no brand loyalty (most likely a price buyer)

b. Who is your current service provider and then who was your previous service provider?  If there current service provider (dealer or direct) is the same as their previous service provider.  That will tell you that they have brand loyalty along with dealer or direct loyalty.  They are a "value" buyer, however there is a strong loyalty to the brand and the service provider.  You may want to ask, "I see that you've had the same brand and service provider for many years. Is there something wrong with the current copiers or service provider"?

If their current service provider is not the same as their previous service provider. Then, I'm putting a check in for the "price" buyer.

You'll need to figure it out on the fly. Don't waste much time on the "price" buyers, give them your best price the first time.  Assume the order and move forward with closing.  Let them stop you, if they don't stop you keep writing!

You can't sell everyone, but you may pick off a few "price" buyers by not playing the price game.  The quicker you can obtain the order will get you closer to the next "value" buyer.  

For those "price" buyers that you do pick off, they will see the value of your support and service over time.  That time allows you to turn that price buyer into a value buyer the next time around.

-=Good Selling=-

Do You Remeber Minnella's Pocket Guide to Copiers?

Atlantic Office Systems circaAh, 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!

-=Good Selling=-

Memoirs of a Copier Sales Person "Slump of Slumps"

I'm proud and excited about starting my thirty-eight year in down the street aka SMB copier sales.  Needless to say, the start of 2018 has not been terrific in fact I'm probably off to one of my worst starts ever.

I guess I could call it the perfect storm.  Right after Christmas I took two weeks to recharge the batteries and get ready for 2018.  It's a great time of the year just to stay at home, kick back and enjoy relaxing.  Nothing to do and no where to go can be a great salvation.  But that was not the case, I contracted some type of Jersey cold/bug that knocked my ass out for the two weeks of vacation and another entire week.  It was about four weeks before I felt better.   

I don't care how good of a sales person you are, four weeks out of action is going to hurt.  

One thing that I've learned in sales is that you always need to be prospecting.  Now one is going to prospect for you and you can't count on leads suddenly appearing out of thin air.  Always remembering that winners make things happen and losers wait for things to happen.

During the last two weeks I've been able to re-build a pretty decent pipeline. If you've been in copier sales for a period of time you'll have experienced "the deep freeze".  That's when your pipeline continues to fill, you have plenty of meetings, and more opportunities that you can shake a stick at.  But you can't close a deal or get those deals to move forward. It's not that the clients are buying from some else it's more like every deal is stuck in a time warp.  However, you still continue to add additional opportunities each week.  

I've been in these cycles before, they suck! But there's not much work you can do but keep stepping up to the plate and take your swings.  Sooner or later the cup of opportunities will runneth over and you'll be writing plenty of orders. Geesh, I'm hoping that going to be next week, because I've only got two weeks left in my month .

We all go through slumps, some minor some major, and some you have no control over. It's our job to continue to work hard, work smart and never stop prospecting.  Thus, if you're ever in a slump, what I can tell you is that slump will end, can't tell you when, but what I can tell you is "the harder you work the luckier you will get".  

Have you experienced a sales slump, if so would love to hear about it and how you came out of it. Hit up the reply and tell us!

-=Good Selling=-

Jersey Shore Surveyor Selects Pre-Owned Ricoh W3601SP

Recently a Surveyor in Monmouth County selected a Pre-Owned Ricoh W3601 as their choice for a wide format MFP.  On occasions I will ask the client why did you select the Ricoh W3601 to move forward with?

The client responded with, “it wasn’t just the Ricoh MP 3601, it was more about what I could do with the Ricoh W3601.  You took the time to tell me how I could improve my process from cutting and pasting surveys to scanning and editing those surveys in a digital format”.  Other sales people were just focused on price and how to close the deal. You took your time and gave me a reason to buy from you”.  I was flattered, this is why I do what I do. read the rest here on jerseyplotters.com

If you need to know more about how I'm ranking at the top of google with my jerseyplotters give me or jesse a shout!

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