Years ago and I'm talking before the dawn of the internet. There were only a few ways you could get information on other manufacturers copiers.
BI (before internet)
1) Call your competitor and ask to speak to a sales person and fib about who you are, your company, and give a BS call back number. We did this many times in order to get answers to those speed, feed and feature questions. In many cases we got snagged and had to hang up.
2) Another way was to get your significant other to do your dirty work and in most cases she wanted no part of that.
3) Another way was to lift the brochure and or the proposal from the clients desk. You would put your brochures on top of an existing brochure or proposal that you saw. Once you had your deal signed you would pick up the entire stack of documents. Thinking many DM's may have spent hours looking for those other brochures or proposals.
4) Send in reply card from one of the manufactures that you were interested in a copier. In a few days you would have the brochure in the mail and thinking about what your were going to say when that sales person followed up if you were dumb enough to give them the right phone numbers.
5) Spec check books, these were GOLD in the office. Some would come every spring and fall with the new models. One that I remember is Minnella's Pocket Guide to Copiers. With the pocket guide you could read every spec, and feature that your heart desired. Armed with one of these and you were the resident expert when talking about copiers with the DMs!
Today with caller ID, phone number search, and Linkedin those tactics have long since died to get competitive information. Nowadays you can get everything you want from either the internet or those pay subscriptions that allow you to do side by side analysis of all the copiers.
For the newbies or novice copier sales peeps these pay subscriptions are the bees knees for finding out what brands can and can't do. I've had a chance to view all of them at one time or another. I can tell you that none of these pay subscriptions are 100% accurate for all of the copiers. Heck, there's a ton of data that has to be entered and people make mistakes. Whether it's a typo or someone just getting bleary eyed and entered the wrong data.
I would bet that there's many of us that don't have access to these paid subscriptions on a regular basis. I'm one of them.
AI (after internet)
1) Go the the manufacturers web and read the entire brochure, don't browse, read it several times.
2) If you have a question about a certain feature, when the copier was launched , street price, cost per page or even what apps are available. Post (lol) your question here on the forums! There are peeps that will help you, can't tell you how many fellow P4Per's have helped me and how many I've helped over the years. We're a community that wants to help each other, make sales and support our families.
3) Configurators! All of the copier manufacturers have them and most of these sites are open to everyone. If you know you're up against a certain model how can you not go and pull a configurator on it? Believe it or not all copiers are not equal especially when it comes to paper trays, finishers, staplers, locking paper drawers, by-pass and feeders!
Several months ago I was up against a competitor and the DM told me what they were looking for feature wise, the brand and the budget. I researched my brand and kept coming up with a much higher budget for my brand. I ended up question the DM for the model number. I then went that brands configurator and found out the model that the other salesperson had quoted could NOT have a finisher. I was told they had to have one. I told my DM about what I found and stated you'd better double check what you're getting. A day later on the follow I was right and that other brand could not take a finisher when the sales person stated it would. We all know the end of the story.
Thus I wanted share what I've found (these links are listed on this site). Please if you know of others please reply with the links. It's good info for all of us!
I's like to make a long story short, however that may not be the case with this blog. I figure it out as I continue to write.
A few days ago I had a lead come in for a production copier. When I opened the lead I saw that the person requesting information was from my home town.
Since my home town is small I knew exactly where he lived or worked. It was a town house complex and I thought he might be running the business from that location, but production print? Thinking that was not possible.
I dialed and connected with Scott. I made my intro and waited for his response. Turns out this was not a lead at all but someone who had attended a webinar and the manufacturer thought this was a lead. Later in the call I find out that is company downsized and he was looking for a job. His last job saw him as Manager/Director of Production and Digital Printing and he has more than 20 years experience.
We spoke about the industry for some time covering production, inkjet and then landed on grand and super wide format technology. It was a great chat. I then offered up some of my knowledge as to where he might find employment in our industry. We ended the chat with a decent relationship because we were local, and we had the same interests with print technology.
Since January was such a **** month for me I knew I had to get to prospecting again. But at this time I wanted to set my sites for higher end and multiple print devices rather than staying in the SMB place.
In most cases cold calling on the phone is a waste of time for me. What I mean by that is I could role through 30 calls and not speak with one DM, and then when I get that DM on the phone I get tongue tied because they caught me by surprise by picking up the phone. LOL
My plan this time was to play detective on the phone and the web to see if I could did up some email addresses for these DMs. I targeted 5 accounts and after much research and a few phone calls I was able to get three email addresses.
Now I have those three email addresses......what is my subject line going to be and what is my message going to be? I was lost because I didn't want to waste my time and send an email that won't be opened along with sending and email that was not authentic.
I needed some help. Remember that so called lead that I spoke with the other day? I thought I had helped him and why not give him a call to see if he could help me?
I got Scott on the line and told him my plight about emailing and asked him these questions.
1) Since you were in charge of print production facilities what subject line would make you open and email? Scott's response was anything that had to do with an event, education or new technology.
2) Not that you opened the email what type of message would lead you to contacting or meeting with the rep for new technology? Scott replied with that message would need to address media, substrates, receiving sample prints or has a sentence or two about technology.
After getting that info I was ready to in fact I sent him a copy of my email with the subject line of "5th Color Wide Format Technology" in the message of the email I kept it short and sweet with.
I was in the field today and was helping one of my clients figure out an issue with his desktop MFP. This client is also on the board of a non-profit organization that has a seven year old color A3 MFP. Yes Ray, they need 11x17!
Why do some clients have seven year old MFPs? It's because they made a purchase and can't come to grips with spending additional dollars to get a new MFP.
Thus, I told the story of WHY ninety percent of my clients lease their MFPs. In fact a little more than eighty percent lease for 60 months. One of the main reasons for leasing is that clients don't get trapped with old technology and rising maintenance and supply costs. You see once you purchase the MFP and let's say the purchase was $12K, you'll be hard pressed to purchase another one if there is no immediate ROI (return on investment). Thus the client gets "trapped" with out dated technology and rising maintenance & supply costs. In addition the risk of downtime increases year after year.
In this case there was not an immediate ROI to the client. The client will have to pay more this year. There are no WOW features that will make the case to retire the seven year old copier. The only driving factor is the cost....until I found out that the organization is considering purchasing a folding machine for 2020.
Okay, I've got a play here.
I know that a decent folding machine (one that doesn't suck) will cost around $3,000 plus you'll have to factor in a maintenance agreement or at least factor in some dollars for when the folder needs service (they always do).
With my A3 Color MFP I can add a multi-fold unit for about the half the price that the client would pay to add the standalone folder. Thus I did the math for them by amortizing the cost of the standalone folder over 5 years with a few more dollars thrown in for maintenance.
The monthly cost for the folder with maintenance over 5 years would be about $70 per month (figured $20 per month for service which is fair). I added that $70 per month to their current cost for the maintenance agreement on the old A3 color MFP. Well, there was my immediate ROI savings.
I had to produce everything as a monthly cost because there was still no way they were going to spend another $12K. But they were planning on spending at least $3k for the folding machine. That's $3K a top of their current annual cost for maintenance and supplies.
I took those numbers and showed the monthly cost of the folder, the maintenance on the folder and the monthly cost of service and supplies for the existing copier.
The next monthly number was the new copier with the folder and maintenance and supplies. Yes, my monthly number saved money and cash out of pocket.
Did I do a good enough job selling the lease? I'm not sure, but hoping to find out in the next couple of days.
What you'll read here is a series of threads that was posted on one of our forums about 5 years ago. The threads have some excellent content about buyers and their habits. Please excuse some of the spelling errors since I'm capturing the series of threads and can't correct them.
There's some great comments from many peeps who might know in the industry. Enjoy and please feel free to comment!
I'd like to introduce Mitch Filby as our guest blogger. I had the chance to catch up with Mitch at Itex 2019 in Las Vegas earlier this year. Mitch and I connected many years ago through this site and I've been asking if he would write a blog for us. Mitch is from Australia and is Managing Director of First Rock Consulting.
Enabling Innovation is both Old and New
Will divestment, organisational and structural splits, re-investment and a greater focus on core business help to save the office printing & document imaging industry?
Well let’s hope so.
However, this without a clear strategy and an effective execution will mean nothing.
As I say,” if nothing changes, nothing changes”.
The real key to success will not be simply a repacking of the old ways or a new sales and marketing message saying the world has changed and we are now different.
Unfortunately talk is cheap and in relation to the office printing industry it’s been getting cheaper by the decade and some would argue it’s happening yearly (oh what - did I hear some say weekly, daily? Lol!! – let’s just say it’s not tracking in the direction we want).
Nevertheless, many industry providers have adapted either through their own accord or have been forced to either through the need to support the manufacturers best interest or the realisation that their clients are not wetted to them like they used to be.
Fortunately, since around mid to late 2005-2009 the emergence of a new and more customer aligned approach has allowed agile and switched-on providers to develop a services model that supported a changing IT and business model and business engagement.
Today a Managed Print Services engagement addresses how services are bought, delivered and maintained across a customer’s environment. However, this services model is quickly advancing and the industry as-a-whole is hopefully adapting to the next wave of change that extends outside just the physical print aspects of managed print services.
The change of uncertainly requires innovation:
The world has certainly changed economically, technologically and politically over the last decade. The structural change economically and the acceleration and acceptance of a digital economy has changed the dynamics for both businesses and consumers around the world.
Due to the rapid change and increasing uncertainty, an ever-growing political shift has occurred. This ongoing undercurrent will continue to impact the office printing and document imaging industry if it does not embrace the opportunity to change and innovate.
So where does this innovation process start?
Well the answer is quite simple but disappointing at the same time.
Unfortunately, we have forgotten that one of our biggest assets has been the most under-utilised or written down in terms of how a business should and needs to engage. As an industry, we have moved away from or devalued the one source that allowed the industry to be so, so effective in the late 80’s and 90’s. We have in fact commoditised our approach and engagement. We have thrown out the baby with the bath water.
We stopped, numbed and blunted our most trained professionals to simply follow the process of device (box) acquisition. The focus became too volume orientated, where it was far too simpler for leadership and management teams to purely account for numbers. This was the metric that drove business decisions.
This might be one lever of business, but you must drive business using a set of different (or coordinated multi-levers) to be ultimately successful and sadly this did not occur as effectively as it should have.
Overtime the industry lost its customer intimacy. One of the greatest strengths of the industry over the last three (3) odd decades was the sales engagement and our people we called “salespeople”. To other industries a sales role was a job. To our industry, it was a profession, a career, you were a business person. We were schooled in understanding the challenges of running a business.
In fact, this industry was one of the most highly trained and experienced to understand the needs but more importantly the business problems our clients were having. We as an industry were the most tentative to the customer needs and requirements.
Constantly, customers were always intrigued with our professionalism around how we gained such an insight around our client’s business. Many clients in the late 80’s and 90’s wanted many of the providers and experts of the day to extend themselves outside print even then. We were the trusted advisors of yester-year.
Building Innovation Capability: The first step
One way to start or enable innovation in your business or the industry as-a-whole is to go back to basics and talk and engage with the client and it’s not about “what keeps you up late at night” type of question.
Also, it’s critical not to try to find a solution to the clients perceived problems. This may sound strange and opposite to what many have been trained to do. However, there is a reason for my comments.
Over the last ten years I have been actively engaging and working with over five (500) hundred CXO’s across many different industries such a financial services, insurance, retail, manufacturing, health, media, telecoms – you name it, I’ve done it and this extends into government and non-for-profit as well.
The one key learning or insight that has been garnished from all these engagements is that most businesses fail around innovation or solution development because many of their ideas or problems that they think they have are still assumption.
Now this is not to say that they don’t understand the pain or opportunity they have in front of them. However, their problem or solution is 99.99% based on assumptions. Their problem is usually symptomatic of a larger problem that they have not had the clarity or a process to identify more clearly.
Everyone has been taught in the modern era – “if you have a problem, you should find a solution”. This has forced our thinking very quickly on the solution rather than testing the problem or the assumptions behind the problem.
I could go into more detail as I have developed a very sound and repeatable methodology to help end clients become more innovation.
But as always, the intent of these articles is not about self-promotion, but more about how this industry can transition. What could I do to support a wonderful industry that has the capability to evolve.
On that note – what I’d like for all to consider is how can your talent and your most valuable resource and asset help your business re-engage with your end clients around testing their assumptions on the client business problems.
Help them not to find solutions too quickly. Easier said than done – I know.
Customers can see it and smell it faster than you realise.
The key is to have a conversation and engage and work with the client to identify the symptomatic problem that over-hangs the real source of the customer problem.
Sure, this may take you away from the box sale – however as a business you must start to align yourself with your customer’s real problems. As I have learned “don’t define your business by the products or services you sell, but more the contribution and value you provide to your customer.
The key to any successful business has always been and always will be about how can you help and add value to your customers business. The innovation transition for our industry starts with the following strategy or at least one plank of your overall strategy – align your business to your customers business – in doing so, your value will expand your own business. They will provide you direction on how your business can be shaped.
The next challenge will be about how best to adapt your business at scale. However, if your customers are asking you to do this, then that’s a much safer, less risker process then going out there trying to build new services and products that client may not want.
The speed of change is happening at an accelerated rate; however, we still have to have a balanced view of how we manage both the old and the new. What hasn’t changed is that the most successful businesses have been built on a simple formula of have having the right talent, the right technologies that allow the right talent to do a great job and a great understanding of their customers business and the challenges and problems they are trying to solve or the problem that they don’t know they have.
Special thanx to Mitch for this. Here's a link to check out Mitch Filby on Linkedin
Hoping I can keep this short tonight. The last four weeks have been a bit of a struggle for me. For the year I'm ahead of the game (quota) moving in the last quarter of the year.
Thus far I've been doing okay, but that okay came to an end with a half a dozen stalled deals along with losing a few. Yes, I lose also But in my eyes losing is always a part of winning.
I took a good long look at my funnel and thought WTF? Where did it go? Well I was fortunate to close many orders over the last two months. The appointments, the documents, the chasing of documents, phone calls, email, follow up emails all took their toll on prospecting. I didn't have a lot of extra time to make the calls and stops required to keep the funnel full.
Mind you, I have a lot opportunities pending, however I can see that some aren't going anywhere, others have stalled and the picture of the future wasn't that awesome. Thus I needed to bring the future to the present @Ray Stasiezcko
When the going gets tough the tough get going. I knew it was time to pick up the phone and make things happen, because waiting for things to happen was not an option.
While taking to the phones last week I remembered what my Director of Sales Enablement had been preaching for the last few months. I know at times we tend to forget some of the basics that got us to where we are today. That one tip was to ask for referrals. Yeah, I remember learning that way back when, but somehow that memory faded into the past and I hadn't used it in years.
Well last week I used it. I didn't use it for every call, but made mention of asking for a referral about 75% of the time.
I remember the call I made to an existing account (this is where you want to use it). The principal of the company was not in, in fact he was on vacation. I left a short message with the receptionist and stated that I would send him an email.
At least that's what I wanted, but I changed to sending him an inmail (linkedin). My reasoning for choosing the inmail was simple, since he was on vacation I'm thinking his in-box is going to be flooded and I would be one of the last emails he would look at. Thus I knew sending an in-mail would give him an alert via Linkedin.
My message was simple, "Hi Bob, it's been more than a year since we last spoke, how has the wide format been doing, any questions, any issues or anything that needs to be addressed? BTW, would you happen to know of anyone that might be interested in a wide format like yours?" Simple right?
Today I took a call on my cell from a number that I didn't recognize. Turns out it was a business friend of the principal that I in-mailed last week. He's interested in a new wide format along with a color MFP! We scheduled a meeting for later this week. Now that's a decent add to the pipeline.
One thing I repeat over and over as long as your work had you never know what tomorrow will bring you. In this case I also am grateful that our Director of Sales Enablement kept pushing that button.
It's been awhile since I had some extra time to write about some of the latest and greatest MFP's from Ricoh.
Just this year Ricoh dropped the old naming convention of MP and replaced it with IM. The IM stands for Intelligent MFP. These new intelligent devices operate with the RICOH Smart Integration platform (RSI).
RSI Remote In
For those of us who have been in the industry for sometime, we can remember having to walk clients through settings on the user screen interface and or helping the client resolve and issue with the copier. I can still remember saying to the client, "Okay, I'm blind and you are my eyes" as I was speaking to them on the phone. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. When it didn't meant that it was time to dispatch or tech or I would have to go on-site if it was a user issue.
All of that has now changed the awesome features of RSI. RSI allows service engineers to connect remotely to the copier, control the operator panel and guide clients in real time! That's a fantastic feature because the client can have the same type of support for copiers as they have with PC's. Let's remote in baby!
Another kick butt feature with RSI is that the copier can check for and download firmware updates Once the download is complete the copier will then start the update process with the latest firmware update. You may ask what's the benefit to the client? First there's no need for a tech to be on-site to update the copier(s) which incurs downtime. Secondly, it facilitates a better client experience.
Features I Like
Convenience Stapler: I think I can make the statement that in my almost 40 years in the copier business I've never been able to offer a convenience stapler as an option. In fact I've never been able to offer a convenience stapler standard either other than buying an electric stapler and Velcro the stapler to the copier.
The convenience stapler is offered as an option and has the capability of stapling 20 sheets of paper. We can do a traditional top left hand corner staple or the ability to put two parallel staples at the left margin. Pretty neat because it creates a document that will open like a book.
Paper Mismatch: We've all experienced it and we've all hated the experience. That's when you send legal size print job to the letter size paper tray. The result is one big pain the butt! I can remember clearing the mis-feed, closing the covers and the same thing happens because the print job is still in the copier. Thus there was another mis-feed. Eventually we learned to pull out the paper tray before we closed the covers to reset the copier.
Thus this new features will sense the mis-match, feed the sheet out of the copier and then alert the user to change the paper in the tray.
Google Cloud Print Ready: This means that the device is ready to be shared on the web using your Google account. Once the device is registered on the cloud print platform, users are able to print from any internet connected device. Great feature for a company that has a mobile workforce.
Scanning: Yay! Single Pass Document Feeder and it couldn't have happened at a better time. Why mention print speeds anymore, most don't care about print or copy speeds. Especially copy speeds because no one copies anymore! Letter size will scan at 40 images plus per minute at 200DPI and 80 images per minute at 200DPI. Note that 200 DPI is fine for scanning text type documents, higher resolution is only needed with very small print or fine lines. I've always wondered why the scan speed is referred to images and not pages. I'm thinking because one sheet of paper can hold two images one on the front and one on the back. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong about that.
Built in LED cleaning: For those not familiar with the term LED it stands for Light Emitting Diodes. For years Oki used LED print technology for their print devices rather than laser. It's said the LED print technology offers better print resolution. For the life of me I don't see a difference, however I will take the experts word. Right, so every time a cover is opened on the MP 430f there's a built-in brush that will clean the LED. Something different and something most reps won't speak about. Just the reason why you need to mention it.
In between appointments today I had made a short list of three net new suspects that I wanted to cold call. All three of those cold calls turned up a fat ZERO. I'm okay with that because I'll be following up in the near future with phone call and email. Sooner or later I'll get an appointment but hoping it doesn't take 10 or more years like some of the ones I've had. At my age 10 years is not going to cut it.
In Between Drives
About mid-day I pulled into a park so that I could check my emails and voice messages. No big news in the email and there was one voice message from a friend of mine that worked in marketing a few years back. Thus, I made the call and left Chris a message. A few hours later Chris was able to call me back and we got caught up on what we've been doing for the past year in our personal and business lives.
I was delighted to hear that Chris had hooked up with a office equipment dealer in the mid-south. Thought that was awesome and I later found out that he took a job offer in sales. Which led me to ask how things are working out for him. Chris told me he closed a decent size deal for multiple units for about $40K with an existing account, has about 100 existing accounts and a **** load of net news . As I thought we were getting close to the end of the call, Chris stated that he wanted to ask me a few questions related to prospecting. Chris stated that he's been having a hard time with getting appointments and conversations going with net new clients.
Prospecting Cold Call Dials
I was in full agreement to help, however I had many questions for him before I could help. I'll bullet out those questions for us.
- How many cold calls are you doing per week? The answer I got was 100
- How many of those are walk in cold calls? Answer was 20
This meant that our new rep that was making 80 dials a week. Ah, right, been doing this long enough to know that fudging is common practice. I told him 16 calls a day is not going to cut, even with the walk in cold calls. I told him he sucks at prospecting and he needs to be making at least 60 calls every day. Anything less and you're going to wash out. With only having 100 existing accounts there is plenty of time.
Prospecting Cold Calls Walk-ins
We know that Chris is doing around 20 cold calls a week which is not that bad. But when we you only have 100 existing accounts, dude you need to step up your game!
- How do you cold call walk-ins? Answer was that when he picks a company to cold call he will cold call additional companies in that area.
Okay I thought, not so bad, however you should plan your cold calls. What I mean by that is to comb your CRM and look for accounts that you haven't been able to get through to yet. Pick 25 of those accounts and make sure they are "paper intensive" type of accounts. Look to your verticals of Healthcare, AEC, Law and pick other one, just make sure they are accounts that could result in multiple placements. Don't ever willy nilly walk-in cold calls because you are wasting valuable time. In addition your only goal is to get the name of the decision maker and scope the place out.
Tip: Don't add new suspects to the CRM when you haven't defined the suspects in your CRM (if you see one or two accounts that you'd like to break into that's fine).
Personally, before I ever speak to the Decision Maker or Person in Charge I want to do the research on the company. What they do to make money, how many employees, the more you know the better. Facebook, Linkedin, Manta, and Google are my favorite sources. Next you want to do the research on the DM. Who they are connected to, where they worked, their existing and previous position and if you can find it what they like or care about.
In the next installment I'll tell you what we spoke about with the following titles
The Pitch, Work Ethic, Prime Time, The Email, Breaking the Bank
I needed to get this out there because it's been bugging me for sometime. What's the deal with sales people wearing polo shirts while visiting net new clients or how about any client? What the frack is next polo shorts? Just want to clarify that I'm seeing more of this with how men are dressing rather than women.
You're going to visit a net new client, and your wardrobe consists of a polo shirt (some may have a company logo), wrinkled khakis and old worn out loafers?
Am I past my time because I believe that you should look your best on a sales call? For me it starts with clean polished shoes, pressed pants, pressed shirt (with collar stays) and a tie when visiting a net new account. I'll be the first to admit that if I'm with an existing client by all means I'm dropping the tie. Is there a new sales fashion left me behind?
I'm going to answer my own question and state "no it hasn't". There's only a few reasons for not wanted to look like a professional when visiting clients.
1) Laziness: Not wanting to take the time to go to the cleaners for pick up or drop off. Today most cleaners offer pick up and delivery services. Thus the only thing I can think of is laziness.
2) Cheap: They don't want to spend the bucks to have pants pressed along with your shirts. Yeah, I know it's an extra expense and at times it can run a $100 bucks a month, however I know I'm putting my best foot forward to look good.
3) Don't Care: It's my guess that many reps don't care about the image of the company they are projecting to a net new prospect.
First 5 Minutes
Most buyers are summing you up in the first couple of minutes from the way you groom, the clothes you wear, your shoes (most important) and the way you speak. I mention the shoes because it's one of the first things I look at when meeting someone in a business meeting. In most cases shoes can tell the story about whether that person is successful or not.
I understand times have changed because back in the eighties I was the guy that was going to the office everyday with a three piece suit. The vest, the jacket, the tie, the slacks it all happened everyday. I may not have known that much about business or selling copiers back in those days but I sure did look like I was successful. We hear over and over that people do business with people they like. I'm here to tell you that people also like to do business with other people that are successful. Thus, when you walk in the door well groomed and put together you've earned yourself a some additional minutes in the prospect eyes to sum you up. Arriving in the polo shirt, pants that aren't pressed and dirty shoes shows the client that you're not a professional at what you do. You won't be taken seriously when other porfessionals are to be considered.
Just a quick story about baseball and a kid I knew that had an excellent arm in high school. At the end of his freshman year he was promoted to varsity baseball. He was lean, athletic and had a good arm. Sophomore year, he started varsity, pitched some big games, was hitting 86 on the jugs gun, still lean and mean. After the sophomore year this kid thought he was gold, stopped working out, gained a some weight. Junior year (this is the year when scouts start coming around), while he still had a good arm and was touching 90 baseball scouts took a look at the kid, saw the weight issue and immediately labeled him as "lazy". Kid never got drafted because of the scouts first impression of that person.
Dress for Success
Yay, yay it's an old worn out term. But for those that maybe reading this and those that maybe be wearing those polo shirts and khakis maybe it's time to shake things up. Maybe it's time to make a statement that you are the professional and you're there to earn there trust and their business. Do I like getting dressed up everyday? No fracking way, however I do understand that if I want to be successful I need to play the part.
Ten Commandments of Selling Copiers
Thou shall honor thy the client
Thou shall always be prospecting
Thou shall always be educating the client
Remember that if you don’t know the answer to a question, then tell the client you will get back to them
Thou shall not tell false truths
Thou shall always have a great work ethic
Remember that ours is not a 9-5 job
Thou shall always be educating thy self
Thou shall be a great listener
Thou shall always walk and speak with a great attitude
Note from Art: Feel free to add more or create your own, would love to hear from others on this!
Love it or hate it, paper is still one of the main go to sources for communication and archiving.
Living and selling copiers so close to the ocean all of these years has made me almost and expert with copier paper.
- Image quality issues, maybe your copy paper is damp. Yup, copier paper soaks up the moisture in the air. When paper is damp the image quality will suffer. In most cases you'll see white splotches where toner should be. If you need to confirm that the paper is damp, then take that same piece of copied or printed paper, flip it over and put it in the by-pass tray. Print another image on the back side and if the splotches are missing then your paper is damp. The trick is that you dried out the paper with the first print when it went through the fuser section.
- Spend the extra buck for better paper and here's the reason why, better grades of paper means that each ream is wax wrapped. Not the outside of the wrapper but the inside. Go tear open a ream of paper and you'll see what I mean, feel the inside wrapper and it's smooth. That's because of the wax coating. Now what does the wax coating do? It prevents moisture from seeping into the paper. Can't tell you how many times a client is mentioned bad print quality and it's because they took the outside wrapper off the paper.
- Copy or Print this side up! You won't see this label on the wrapper for inexpensive copier paper, however with better grades the "Copy of Print this side up" will tell you what side of the paper to load in the paper tray. The reason for this is that reams of paper have a tendency to bow (curve) under great weight. Forty cartons of paper per skid creates a lot weight. Using the "Copy or Print this side up" will also reduce paper jams and who wants those!
- How much does that sheet of paper cost me? A recent check with Office Depot showed a cost of $36.99 for a carton of paper. Each carton of letter size paper has ten reams that has 500 sheets of paper. At this price each sheet of paper costs .007398. Of course that price doesn't included shipping which could add a few more dollars. At some point in the near future I suspect that a letter size sheet of paper will be a penny per sheet.
- Letter size or A4 paper accounts for the largest market share in the global copier market. Makes you wonder why Ray is always pushing A4 MFP's!
- Great way to solve the damp paper issue when the paper in your paper trays is damp. Go and purchase some 10 gram silica gel desiccant bags. Place one in each paper tray wait a few hours and the problem should be solved.
- Loss of paper, where the frak is all my paper going or better yet, where did my checks go? I'm guilty of this! Every now and then we'll run out of notepads, where's the next place I go? Yup, it's over to the copier, open the draw and help myself to all the paper I need. Believe it or not this minor theft of copier paper happens frequently at large educational institutions. Take the University that has 500 plus copiers and uses more than a million prints a month. A five percent loss will mean losing 50K sheets of paper each month. Depending on their cost for paper this can result in a loss of $125-$250 per month. Adding paper tray locks can deter those paper and check thieves. Cool paper tray locks here
- All copier paper is not alike! Ever wonder why you got such a good deal on copier paper? Truth be told there are many shades of white copier paper. There's even some white copier that looks gray when you compare to copier paper that 95 brightness rating. Brightness of the paper is rated on scale of 0-100 with 100 being the brightest. It's all about the reflecting more light. The higher the number the more light it reflects. Thus, if you want excellent color prints or copies you'll always want 95 brightness. You can read more about brightness of paper here
Be creative, be authentic, be knowledgeable and be passionate are all great traits for sales people.
For most sales people it takes time to feel comfortable with who you are and the message that you want to bring to your clients. It's not something that you can change over night. It's something that successful level sales people develop over time and sometimes it's coupled with trial and error. The great thing is that we all learn from our mistakes. Trust me been there done that.
Clients Can Sense Your Expertise
It's more about that feeling that the client gets when you're on the phone or meeting with them. They feel comfortable with you, they are comfortable with your message, comfortable with your tone of voice. Selling today is nothing like it was back in the eighties, the hard close is all but gone along with those leading questions to make the client say yes. I'm not saying that getting a yes is bad, however clients are so educated they can sense where you're trying to take them down the "yes" road and that's when the walls go up.
A Recent Cold Call
Last week I wanted to pay a visit to an existing account where we just placed a new wide format. Actually I was chopping at the bit to visit them because I noticed there were four other companies in the same location that were wide format users.
My last cold call was probably the best of the afternoon and it wasn't because I developed a lead. I was greeted by the receptionist and I stated my name, my company and explained that I had meet one of the principals at a recent event. She corrected me on the first name of the principal (yeah, I had a senior moment), I asked if she would forward my information to the person in charge (I knew who it was, but did not mention their name). I then stated. "when you're in need to replaced or add a new wide format we'd like to me included in that process". KISS
The receptionist then thanked me and told me that I was the most courtesy sales person she had meet in some time. Also stating that others would ask too many questions. I told her, "thank you, that means a lot, I've been doing this for a long time". I followed up with a call just today, spoke with our receptionist and she put me through to the decision maker. Appointment was then scheduled. Seems this was more about being comfortable with myself and the message I wanted to send.
After returning from Virginia for a few the days the wife and I needed to go on some errands. Lowes, Hobby Lobby (for me), food store and I had to find a place to ship a package to Virginia.
My wide told me about there was a UPS store just up the road. It was Saturday, I was dressed in boat shoes, shorts and a tee-shirt. Of course the first thing I noticed was the three KonicaMinolta copiers as I arrived. I made my way to the counter and was waited on by a clerk. Next to the clerk was an older man and I surmised that he was the owner because of the way he interacted with the clerk. I got my package shipped and then asked the owner, "how is the copy business", his reply was "it's okay". I then stated, "good, but does anyone really make copies anymore?". "No, not really, but UPS mandates that I have to have three copiers, one for color, one for black and one has to have a Fiery" he said. "Wow, I'm surprised, is that because of the franchise agreement?" I asked. "Yes, are you in the copy business?" the owner asked. "Yes, I am"
We chatted for another 35 minutes which included one major point that I was not aware of. UPS wants the franchise owners to diversify away from shipping. UPS wants them to add other printing devices such as wide format, and color wide format.
Boy was my wife upset when I finally got back to the car. I apologized and told her about the chat. She stated. " I would expect nothing less".
What started as a routine visit to ship a package ended up with a casual conversation about copiers and then some. I was not a sales person, I was a customer in his eyes and that led to conversation that he and I was comfortable with. Needless to say, he wants me to pop in when I'm in the area again. Always be prospecting!
I caught one of Ray's video last week and I was surprised when Ray made mention of his copier career. Yup, Ray also slung copiers just like most of us. I reached out to Ray a few days ago and asked if he'd like to be give us some insight as to what it was like to sell copiers in the eighties.
Selling Copiers in the Eighties
Ray, what year did you start in the industry, what company and what position did you start out with? 1989
Did you work for a dealer or direct ? I worked for Lanier Worldwide Tampa Office.
What was the percentage of copier sales people that made it past two years? 10-15%
What did you like the most about your job in the eighties? Really the 90’s but still 30 years ago. It was a great experience learning how to sell. Lanier was a world class operation and had the industry’s best training in those days. The comradery and the fun of business was awesome.
What did you dislike the most about your job in the eighties? I really liked the job, as all jobs sometimes the people can be challenging to one’s happiness. One of the greatest things in those days was that many prospects did not have copiers. I remember selling a lot of gas stations copiers with coin ops.
What was the compensation plan like, was there a salary, what is just commissions or was there a mix of salary and commissions? $2,000.00 a month all draw and if you went two months in the hole your draw was eliminated until recovered.
How did you go about finding new business, and what was your favorite of those methods and why? Knocked on doors and looked through newspaper for new business licenses. I loved cold calling that’s what we did most of the time in those days.
What was the first sales book that you read that and what did you take away from it? Tom Hopkins “How to Master the Art of Selling.” Lanier made that book part of their training on day one.
What type of car did you use for your demonstrations and how many demonstrations would you perform in a week? A Chevy mini cargo van it held two coffin carts so I could leave the office with two machines and come back with none.
The demo! Yes, we did Demos and lots of them. Every successful sales rep knew that it took twenty cold calls a day and ten demos a week just to survive. It was the copier industry that came up with the saying “if you show it, you will sell it.” With a loaded van, you headed out to your geographical territory, and keep in mind we used paper maps to navigate around neighborhoods, looking for that lonely church. We all knew churches ran tons of bulletins. Every time you drove by church, you could practically hear the sounds of clicks. More clicks equaled more money. Once we found a prospect (basically was everyone in the world), we would sell the demo.
Can you tell us a couple of funny story about selling copiers?
The craziest demo I ever did… Tony the Crab salesman had a van on a street corner. The kind of street corner where you wouldn’t want to even think about buying a crap from the back of a van. Although buying crab wasn’t the goal. Selling Tony a miniature Crab Flyer printing press was.
Remember, before you could sell Tony the copier, you had to show Tony the copier. This is the sole reason all successful copier reps carried long extension cords. Yes, Tony may have had no power in the crab van, but the gas station parking lot Tony called his storefront did. Once the cord was plugged into the lonely outlet in the men’s room with no door, it was time to start making copies.
I know everyone is asking themselves - what the hell does a Crab Sales Guy makes copies of? You may have guessed, of course - it would be one of the crabs. So as I began my pitch that included explaining how every crab vendor should have flyers, and why outsource that, I quickly grabbed a big blue crab from the cooler in Tony’s van (it smelled like shrimp to me), and I immediately set the crab on the glass and hit the big green button. Out came a picture of the blue crab, well it wasn’t blue - color capabilities were not available yet - but once Tony saw the crab printed on that sheet of paper he was sold.
What happened next is something all copier reps face occasionally. You may have guessed, he couldn’t get approved for the 5 year lease. He was able to muster up enough cash and of course a few crabs for trade, so Tony quickly became the proud owner of a slightly used machine, the one that had been rolling around in the back of my van for months.
So when I think back on those good old days, I ask myself what Tony would think today. He more than likely went paperless, has a Facebook page, his van is probably in a junk yard, and Uber drivers deliver his crabs. Yes, I am also quite sure Tony has a crab app.
What is the biggest problem you seeing facing the industry today? The reality that over 80% of the market is vulnerable to innovative disruption. A4, lowering volumes, and new challengers will cause disruption.
If you had to would you do it all over again, if so, what would you change? I would say that doing it all over again in these times would not replicate anything of the past. However, I would do it all over again regarding the education, and excitement of an evolving industry.
What’s the one piece of knowledge that you’d like to share with reps entering our industry? The advice a district manager told me. Gary Moore, said “When you are successful selling copiers in your future you will not need to interview for a job, you will interview a company and decide if you will work there.” Rest in Peace Gary.
If you'd like to know more about Ray, you can get his bio on Linkedin. I would also suggest that you follow Ray because he posts excellent content and is also a regular posted on our site. Thanx for this Ray!
It's late on Friday night, for most their work is over for the week. Me, I need to do updates and frankly I've been lagging in my blogging as of late. It's not because I don't want to write, it's mainly because there hasn't been something that triggered me to write. Nothing unusual in sales, nothing unusual in the field and I've had my nose to the grindstone looking to hit numbers.
Until tonight when I needed to post up my series "This Week in the Copier Industry 15 Years Ago this Week". Nice thing about this site is that you can select advanced search button (see below) and search through tens of thousands of threads about the copier industry since 2003.
You click the Advanced Search and you'll come up to the se3arch menu (see below) or the link I created.
It's a real nice search tool and you have the ability to filter for the forums, blogs, chats, photo's, video's, you name it's there
Right, back to what I wanted to write about. It was this week 15 years ago when Ricoh launched the famous Ricoh MP 240W digital wide format copier/printer/scanner. I wanted to reach back and write about was it was like in those glory days of wide format. BTW, it's famous because it ROCKED!
It was a fantastic time for me in sales. I guess I was at the right spot at the right time. Similar to when Minolta launched the Minolta 450Z copy machine back in 1984.
The picture above illustrates the 240W along with the plot server software that was required to run on a stand alone PC. No software meant no print or scan, just a wide format copier that could reduce or enlarge. Thinking back about 90% of placements included the PC and the software.
Ricoh broke the bank with the MP 240W in 2004. There was no other digital wide format like it that could print/scan and copy for the price. Many Architects, Engineers and Construction companies were farming out prints and scans to repro shops, and Staples for .50 -1.00 per square foot. It didn't take that many prints to cost justify the 240W at MSRP. Selling at MSRP would net you about $8-$9K in GP and the commissions were 50% of the GP. It was not uncommon to take home $10-$14K a month.
Having a product as unique as the 240W made a heck of a lot of sense to go and knock on as many doors as possible. In most cases you were welcomed with arms wide open because the news was spreading about the price and the feature set of the 240W.
There was no haggling on price, well okay there might have been when we were up against Ricoh Direct. But if Ricoh Direct was not in, then our price was our price. If the buyer was not interested it would only be a few days before we turned up additional prospects.
We were fortunate at the dealer I worked for back in 2004. Prior to taking on Ricoh in the mid nineties we also were a dealer for Xerox wide format analog copiers. I came on board in mid 1998 when we had just switched to Ricoh and we were placing the FW 740, 750 & 760 analog Ricoh wide format copiers.
Yup from 2004-2006 we had that market controlled before Xerox launched their first digital wide format. Believe it or not we even delivered the 240Ws for on-site demonstrations. We sold everyone we demo'd!
There were some growing pains with understanding the AEC market, but Ricoh had some excellent DSM's, and product trainers that gave us the basics. We pounded them out left and right and all were single placements, all had high GP and we gained mega new accounts. Gaining those new accounts also gave us opportunities to place digital copiers.
After 15 years, we still have a few in the field. Hard to believe right? Like I said Ricoh hit a home run with the print engine, and the compact size of the device.
Yes, those were the days!