Selling Copiers in the Seventies

Selling Copiers in the Seventies with Chuck Parr

I had the opportunity to meet Chuck many years ago, thinking it was at one  of the first Ricoh dealer events I attended back in the nineties.  Chuck was one of the speakers and I was floored by his public speaking ability.  Somewhere during those few days I made it a point to introduce myself to Chuck and thanked him for the awesome performance.

How did you find your way into the copier industry?

When I graduated from college in 1972 I and a lifelong childhood friend and I started a small furniture design and  manufacturing  company…. custom furniture in a shop in Upstate NY.  We labored for 2 years making prototypes and selling a few commissioned pieces until the strain of “2 artists painting one painting” caused us to split up the same day Richard Nixon resigned-August 8 1974. . 

At the time my wife-to-be was living in NYC area and that was where I was headed and needed a job. I would drive to NYC from upstate and prospect for sales jobs since I had no technical professional degree-( Government BA).   My father worked in an IBM factory from the late 30s until he died in 1971.  I knew it was a great company so I found where IBM was in the NY area….HQ in Armonk NY.  That must be where the people who run the company are so I drove up there , walked in to the cavernous lobby of this huge block of a building .  As I walked across the lobby which seemed 100 yards long toward the receptionist who I swear sat up about 10 ft above me .  I felt 3 ft tall and said in may shakiest voice “ I’m here to see whoever hires sales people…..she did the worst thing she could, she giggled .   This was IBM World Headquarters.

She gave me the address of the nearby IBM Sales branch in White Plains.  I went there and dropped off  a resume.  Shortly after  I went to a homecoming football game at my college and bumped in to a classmate. We had the usual  “what are you doing?” type conversation that you have when you are in your early 20s.  My answer “ looking for work “ and he handed  me his card and said “we’re looking for people”   I was Hired after several interviews wearing my best non-matching gray polyester sport coat and best dark blue dress pants. They sold copiers .  If my college friend  had worked for Nabisco I could just as easily had a career in selling Oreo cookies  as one of my future neighbors did.

What company or manufacturer did you start with, what was your title and what year did you start?             

I started in the Xerox New York Downtown branch, 60 Broad St, November  1974 where my friend was on the Legal Team selling to the many downtown NY law firms.    

I started as a trainee with no territory and no machine base.  It was all about finding new business and this was in the smallest geographic branch Xerox had – the tip of Manhattan – 2 square miles. From Canal St and south to the Battery which included Governors Island which had the Coast Guard’s North American Iceberg Patrol HQ.   Those were the days of going to the top floor of a building and cold calling as you went down the 20 or 30 or 80 stories. Almost no restrictions except to try to get past the receptionist which most offices had.  But they were good in not giving you much ....the lesser savvy might give you a name to call. I worked the streets (and elevators) my first year sales before I got a Government Territory.  North Tower.  At the time saying “Xerox Rep” was almost like a password to go to wherever I might have a machine installed.

If you worked for a dealer please tell us what brands you sold and what was your favorite model top sell and why that was your favorite?

 I didn't work for a dealer in the 70s or 80s but sold Direct for 7 years.  I evolved into the Dealer World when I was one of the first Americans hired by Ricoh in May 1981 to help build a dealer driven Major Account Programs. But selling is selling .   My first Xerox territory with any MIF was handling named  Government accounts (must have been that Govt BA)  – some State /some Federal and many NYC Govt accounts- NYS Water ,  NYFD HQ. NYPD HQ. The FBI, NYC Planning , Highways , Prisons throughout Manhattan etc. 

I also handled the Mayors office and NYS Governors NY office etc. many of my State accounts were in World Trade Center 2.  My mode quickly became defensive in that during the 60s and 70s my predecessors had oversold many agencies who also seemed to have no restraint.  The mid 70s brought tough times to NY Government- near bankruptcy,  and I had many machines doing low volume costing high dollars. We were in a mode of defending and re-configuring the machine install base and fighting against Savin on the low end and Kodak and IBM on the high end.  Favorite machine to sell – the XEROX 9200- 120 ppm / auto doc feed and limitless sort and only $100K (equal to lot of money then and now) My most hated machines to sell against were the Kodak 150 on the high end with its super high copy quality and the Savin 770 on the low end with it super low pricing . The veterans reading this will remember them well.     

    What was the percentage of copier sales people that made it past two years and why made them last or not last so long?        

Xerox hired and trained people very well  in those days at their brand new Sales school in Leesburg VA..They invested in you for one solid year allowing you to learn about sales...learn about the product...learn about business...and learn about yourself as a salesperson. 

The turnover rate was not as high at XRX as what I have since observed at many dealers who I worked with closely while at Ricoh.  I would say about half of XRX new hires lasted the first 2 years in those days.  My class of 5 rookies had 2 of us left after 2 years .  Why ?  Grit ...hard work ….some luck in having a good territory opportunity.  Why did some fail ? Young and Dumb so to speak.  Not mature enough to handle the initial lack of success.  And some laziness and lack of work ethic. 

My first territory was probably one of the worst in the NY Downtown Branch since my government accounts were oversold and the financial conditions were  horrible.  That was one of the reasons my territory was available because the folks who sold much of that left for greener pastures .  Several who had been on the Downtown Government Team went on work for Savin.   I worked throughout the years of NYC s near bankruptcy working hard to consolidate many of the convenience machines throughout agencies and design High Volume Copy Centers using the XRX 92/94/9500 Systems from 1975-79.   

I did not make nearly as many $s as counterparts on the Legal or Financial teams in the Branch.    Xerox management, all the way up to David Kearns (CEO at the time ) understood the battle - we were defending a vulnerable base to aggressive competition (Kodak , Savin ,IBM especially) and they configured our comp and goals accordingly.  Xerox allowed me to learn and succeed from these  tough times.  It toughened me for sure.  Perhaps if I had experienced “Good / Better  Times” in those early days I may have been spoiled and left the industry later during  even tougher  times that would come later in my career at Ricoh.     

What did you like the most about your job in the eighties?         

The time that I spent at XRX in the late 70s/early 80s gave me the base knowledge of the industry and sales strategy.  I was fortunate enough to be hired by Ricoh in early 1981 when they were first forming their US operation. 

Again, some luck and happen stance (just like bumping into someone at a Football game) gave me the opportunity to be among the first American employees at Ricoh.  My group was tasked to create the Major Account program – FROM SCRATCH – and with no dealer network yet established except a handful in the East.  And only 2 very basic machines to sell ….   What did I like most? - the continual  LEARNING LEARNING LEARNING.  Some of it structured at various schools and meetings ...some OJT...some Trial and Error (errors really are the best lessons).   Learning was my mode at XRX (74-81) and it accelerated when we began to build Ricoh of America as it was called then.  Learning about how to craft a Major Account Program that would give dealers enough incentive to sell in to larger accounts ,often at less margin.  We built the program from a blank page  from the ground up. 

From 1981 -1984 we built the program that was known as RMAP based on input from key dealers we had recruited all across the US.  These were exciting times for the industry   A lot of time and money and effort was spent building a dealer channel that could compete directly against large established Direct sales companies like Xerox.  Our program was a hybrid and bringing it to birth and helping to attract dealers with it was one of the most satisfying things at Ricoh in the 80s and watching Dealers use it to grow their business in the Major Account arena was rewarding.       

What did you dislike the most about your job in the eighties?

What I liked least was my “30 day” mindset...which may have been an asset as well.  What do I mean?  I have always said sales , especially copier sales in those days  “30 day business”.   Making quota each month...month after month in a game that hopefully had endless “months “ like a ballgame that had endless innings….or in the case of my  mindset, my career was only as long as the next 30 days.  Its the age old question that each month started with when you had to say to yourself, especially after a strong month, “THAT WAS LAST MONTH – WHAT HAVE YOU DONE LATELY?”  I always compared it to what many actors attribute to what keeps them sharp, keeps their edge to perform.   Its a  kind of a fear..nervousness....stage fright if you will.  In this business there were No guarantees. No contract.   I saw my career as a string of as many  “30 day innings”  that I could put together.  Mine ended  450th inning when I retired the end of June 2013 ….I feel like I won and I know I left it all on the field.    

What was the compensation plan like, was there a salary, what is just commissions or was there a mix of salary and commissions?                  

 My starting comp at XRX was a small salary and commission opportunity, Initially about a 25/75 mix paid monthly.  We did not get paid for supply sales.   We were paid commission based on a “point based” quota system.   A “point value” was assigned to each transaction which at the time were only  rental...no outright sale...no leasing those came later.  It was like being paid piecework in a factory based on the point value XRX assigned to the “sale”.  There wasn’t  an  actual dollar value, revenue or profit,  that  your sale might yield.  In hindsight I did not like that since it didn’t seem like real business, but more like arcade rewards.  When you had a territory of named accounts and a machine base you were responsible for all  the rental machines you had in your base.  If a customer you were assigned canceled a unit outright the point value of that cancellation was subtracted from your “points” earned that month.    This was true whether that was a machine was sold by you or not.  Someone years before had earned the commission for it ...but if they canceled that rental , you paid for it.  That didn’t seem fair so I have to add that to my “dislike list”.

How did you go about finding new business, and what was your favorite of those methods and why?         

 As a new territory rep in the 70s and without base it was all about pounding the streets and making cold calls , up and down those mostly tall buildings south of Canal St.  Keep knocking on doors , collecting info...and if you got names and any machine info you'd keep record of it for future callback.  Early version of SalesForce.  But in those days it wasn't always looking for and finding competitors machines and proposing yours.  Many businesses still  did not have a copier .  Your job became like a traveling evangelist probing people to find their document  based needs and  find a need that would justify a copier.   I had a book I called my “FAB” book.  It was a binder that had some visual aids of how copier could be used to help a business be more productive ….samples of typical things businesses used to communicate and if a copier might be used to improve the process.  FAB   Feature Advantage Benefit…Fabulous !

What was the first sales book that you read that and what did you take away from it?

I am not sure you’d  call it a Sales Book.   I was never really big on so called Sales  Books.    I would say my first book that helped me in sales  ( and life)  was/is  Norman Vincent Peale’s “ The Power of Positive Thinking”.   I’ve read it more than once.  Some parts were / are  especially helpful when ithings were tough. 

My greatest other  “sales book” and inspirations are the many biographies that I read even to this day.  One favorite is Rudy Giuliani’s “Leadership” since it chronicles how he turned around a New York City  that I was intimately familiar with.  I had a front seat that witnessed the ineptitude and waste of the NYC Government of the 1970s.   His book is  great template on how someone might take a terrible sales territory and “ rebuild it “ using some basic management techniques: identify the problem / measure it / fix it / and monitor the results.   Giuliani turned New York into a great city doing basic blocking and tackling and holding people accountable.  No magic.      

 What type of car did you use for your demonstrations and how many demonstrations would you perform in a week demonstration?          

        My car was a “Subway Car” and this is what a graffiti defaced subway car looked like during my time riding them in NYC.  Pretty sad...I refer you back to Rudy and why they no longer look that way.  Xerox machines in the 70s did not lend themselves to be carted around the streets.  The logistics of NY downtown were difficult for sure.   My “demos” were both ones done in our office demo room , which I might do 1- 2 a week on good weeks and the most effective demos were on site pre-qualified 30 day trials.  At any given time I might have 3 or 4 on site demos.  My Close rate on those were usually 1 in 4.   I was just OK at best.

Can you tell us a couple of  funny story about selling copiers in the seventies?         

One of my first sales was at a small law firm at 120 Wall St. by the East River. The Managing Partner told me all about their copier, which they weren’t happy with,  in his heavy Brooklyn accent.  He said it was “Copy-uh Two”,   I’d been thru some good competitive product training ( there weren’t that many products  to know back in 1975)  I immediately knew it was the notorious roll-fed IBM Copier2.  I was well versed about its pricing – generous limitless  “Top Stop” Pricing where the customer did not pay a click charge for any volume over 40,000. 

I diligently got the key info I needed like volume - how many rolls of paper they used - key documents etc. I prepared a very nice side-by-side comparison of the IBM 2 versus the just released Xerox 3100.  Speeds and Feeds. Pricing and the  “FABs” for the law firm and the inevitable monthly savings that every proposal always seemed to project. When I met with the Partner and walked him thru my proposal, I had included a picture of an IBM II that I had cut / pasted from SpecCheck (do they still publish that ?).  The partner cut me off before I could go further and said  - “let me show you our machine ”.  He walked me back to the copy room and there stood his machine - an “Olivetti COPIA 200 “. I was flabbergasted and red faced.  I didn’t even know that Olivetti made copiers.  He actually laughed about it when I explained  the mix-up.  He allowed me to revise my proposal.  Ultimately they rented a Xerox 4000 for much more $ than their Italian job.  It was my biggest sale to date as a territory rep.          

 What is the biggest problem you seeing facing the industry today?            

I retired 6 years ago I still keep up with the industry via your web page (Print4Pay Hotel),  /Cannata Report/ Industry Analyst / LinkedIn/ plus former colleagues and dealer friends that I keep in touch with.    Its in my blood.  There seems to be a bit of a witching hour of things like declining click volume, aging of dealer owner founders and succession and decreasing size of the dealer channel via consolidation, declining revenue/profit and finding young sales reps who can / who want to do what may be one of the hardest jobs they might find.   The last elephant I see in the room is the question- what  will this industry once known as “The Copier Business” become over the next decade.  To that I have to admit I have no clue. Solutions...Production...Wide Format...Grand Format...MPS...Mega Dealers...Direct...     

If you had to would you do it all over again, if so what would you change?                          

I would ….I certainly can’t complain about the very good living I was able to make, the very good people I was able to meet and to work with, the many good customers and the many successful dealers that  I remain friends with. The bonuses were the travel to every state in the US as well as fabulous dealer award trips I was able to host around the world.  It was my honor to work at Ricoh as the company launched in the US and grew into an industry leader during my time there.  I was pleased to get my “life experience MBA “ working alongside many of the Ricoh Japanese who taught me more than I could have imagined.   I think I was able to add value to a few things and represent the US market and what made It unique vs other world markets.

What’s the one piece of knowledge that you’d like to share with new reps entering our industry?          

There is so much to learn, to know; especially today vs. 40+ years ago when I was a scared rookie looking for my first sale and my “30 day Mindset”.   The sales game does have some “constants” regardless of the product or locale or company.  The one thing I picked up in working with much more talented sales people was : KEEP YOUR PRIMARY FOCUS ON THE CUSTOMER.  I termed   “GETTING IN TO THE CUSTOMERS 99%”.  All that simply means is that the job of the sales person is to know as much as she can about the customer’s business, the customer’s problem, the customer’s priorities.  If you can immerse yourself in the customer’s business quickly and deeply and sincerely, you will find some kind of a “hook”  for your product.  They will sell your product for you.  You become their guide.  

If you'd like to reach out to Chuck you can check out his Linkedin profile here and make sure you send him a message!

-=Good Selling=-          

Selling Copiers in the Seventies with Ed Mclaughlin

If you're reading this blog series for the first time you'll notice one of these icons .

Clicking that icon will take you the collection of blogs that we've posted with our amazing industry veterans who were selling copiers in the seventies.  I believe its important that we not only post these blogs but to also have them archived for our industry.

Selling Copiers in the Seventies with Ed Mclaughlin



Ed Mclaughlin is Executive Advisor with NEXERA, A BEI Services Company. In addition Ed was also President of Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America. Please visit his profile on LinkedIn

How did you find your way into the copier industry? 

My path was an odd one for sure. After discharged from the Air Force in 1969, I became an accountant for Sperry Rand, UNIVAC international Division. I was also attending the evening Division of LaSalle University, working on a Degree in Business Administration. I did well at Sperry, but I was very interested in the diversity of the sales process. As opportunities came about, I was always passed over. Later I was told I was too valuable in my present position, and I thought well, it’s not what I want to do, so I started looking around.

What company or manufacturer did you start with, what was your title and what year did you start?

I didn’t want to work for just anyone and didn’t think about the copier industry. Still, I was attracted to the 3M Company. An opportunity developed, and I grab it. I had more than a few friends tell me I was crazy accepting the copier job. I wanted to be in sales, and I was miserable being pigeon-holed by my present employer, so off I went.

If you worked for a dealer please tell us what brands you sold and what was your favorite model top sell and why that was your favorite.

That was in November of 1971. 3M was a great company, very diversified, and I saw it as a tremendous opportunity to learn about many aspects of the business. The training they put into us was fantastic. Throughout my time there, I attended numerous training programs. We were exposed to an abundance of efficient business processes and the necessary skills that were a benefit not just in selling, but in business in general.  

What was the percentage of copier sales people that made it past two years and what made them last or not last so long?

I was hired with four other people at the time. Within six months, there were two of us still in the sales force. The truth is that the quick turnover scared me a bit. I was a young husband and father, and the thought of being out of work was, well, horrifying. It was also quite motivating, and I took the responsibility seriously. I decided I was never going to have a bad month. The work was hard, really, and a lot more physical than I had thought. We took our copier wherever we went, and they were heavy to move around. The ”209” copier was about 250 lbs. I had a city territory when I first started, and that meant steps getting in and out of buildings and not many elevators.

What did you like the most about your job in the eighties?

When I later got a more suburban area, I thought I died and went to heaven. I often thought about the rapid turnover and wondered why it was so extreme. I think there was a disillusionment to the whole idea of sales. Sure, you could make good money, but it was a lot more involved than you may be prepared to experience. Once I got promoted to account sales, the physical part got a lot easier.

What was the compensation plan like, was there a salary, what is just commissions or was there a mix of salary and commissions?

Compensation was a mix of a small base salary and commission. We also received a quarterly bonus based on our hardware number. There were two levels the first level was you received 1.5% of your supply sales in your territory. If you achieved the 2nd level, you received 3%. The payout could be excellent. Once promoted out of territory sales, it became more salary and bonus. We were responsible for growing the account and received quota and bonuses accordingly.

How did you go about finding new business, and what was your favorite of those methods and why?

The way we went about cold calling, freely walking around buildings, and just calling on people would get you arrested today.   What does carry over, though, is the need to understand where we are in the business process. The principle of “think on your feet” and “shut up and listen.”   The concept of seeing things through the eyes of the customer has stayed with me throughout my whole life. I not only have learned to apply it to business but life and family.

What was the first sales book that you read that and what did you take away from it?

As I came along in this business, I didn’t read “sales” books I read “business” books. 

What type of car did you use for your demonstrations and how many demonstrations would you perform in a week demonstration?

3M provided us with a station wagon; mine was a 1969 Nash Rambler station wagon with a broken rear door.

If you pulled out too fast, the force of the copier in the back on the rolling cart would push the door open. We were provided a harness to secure the beast in the back. I put a strap under the bumper. This way if the copier did push the door open the harness and the strap would keep it from completing the fall to the ground.

What is the biggest problem you seeing facing the industry today?

I look back on the early days with a mix of fondness and a little bit of “what the hell was I thinking.” I can honestly say I learned a great deal not just about selling but about business processes and, most of all, about people. It was an education if you wanted it to be.

The way we went about cold calling, freely walking around buildings, and just calling on people would get you arrested today.   What does carry over, though, is the need to understand where we are in the business process. The principle of “think on your feet” and “shut up and listen.”   The concept of seeing things through the eyes of the customer has stayed with me throughout my whole life. I not only have learned to apply it to business but life and family. 

Can you tell us a couple of funny story about selling copiers in the seventies?  

I remember one day when a particularly aggressive guy tailgating me over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge pulled up behind me at the toll gate within inches of my rear bumper became startled when as I pulled away from the toll booth, he right behind me, the door suddenly flipped open. The 250 LBS 3M “209” monster came screaming out of the back. It had an automatic document feed on it, and it hung just inched from the windshield of his beautiful new MGB sports car. I knew what the look of fear was that day. I jumped out, pushed the copier back in the car, jumped back in, and took off. The MGB took a few seconds to compose himself, and I noticed a safe distance between him and me as I traveled down the highway.    

What’s the one piece of knowledge that you’d like to share with new reps entering our industry today?

What would I say to those getting into the business today? Learn your trade, not just your technology but the technologies that impact your products.  More importantly, learn what these things mean to your customers and how they affect their performance. And above all, understand business in general.  You will always communicate more effectively if you have a similar vernacular and common ground. A good rule whatever you do.   Finally, be curious, I started my business career in 1969 I’m still learning today.

-=Good Selling=-

Note from Art:  Ed never knew you were in the service.  Thanks so much for your service in such a troubled time.

Selling Copiers in the Seventies with Rich Sissen

If you're reading this blog series for the first time you'll notice one of these icons .

Clicking that icon will take you the collection of blogs that we've posted with our amazing industry veterans who were selling copiers in the seventies.  I believe its important that we not only post these blogs but to also have them archived for our industry.

Rich Sissen is President and Owner of Sissen and Associates.  We met via email and had a couple of phone conversations about our early copiers days.  Rich also told me about his current business which organizations recruit and select quality people.

Selling Copiers in the Seventies with Rich Sissen



  • How did you find your way into the copier industry? 

I was looking for experience in sales. I took a sales position with Apeco. Was only going to stay the summer and go back to college. Worked for Apeco for eight years.

  • What company or manufacturer did you start with, what was your title and what year did you start?

Started July 1971 Apeco [American Photocopier Equipment Company]. As a rookie went 90 days with out a sale and sold four units in one day.

  • If you worked for a dealer please tell us what brands you sold and what was your favorite model top sell and why that was your favorite.

Never work for a dealer but was a Sharp dealer form 1978 till 1995

  • What was the percentage of copier sales people that made it past two years and what made them last or not last so long?

 For Apeco zero, if you made it that long you were a sales manager. When I started my dealership, I too had zero but in 1983 I hired a consultant, [Mike Riordan ] and we reduced our turn over to less than 20% in that two year time period. Poor selection process and training big failures in turn overs.

  • What did you like the most about your job in the eighties?

   Lots of stuff going on in the industry. Lots of National meetings, vendors trips and good money.

  • What did you dislike the most about your job in the eighties?

 The vendors were terrible to work with!!!!!

  • What was the compensation plan like, was there a salary, what is just commissions or was there a mix of salary and commissions?

Salary plus commissions and car allowance. Commissions percentage 10% to 20%. Salary $2000.00 to $3000.00

 

  • How did you go about finding new business, and what was your favorite of those methods and why?

 Cold calls, 20 per day

  • What was the first sales book that you read that and what did you take away from it?

    Can remember any book.

  • What type of car did you use for your demonstrations and how many demonstrations would you perform in a week demonstration?

Ford Station wagon. Goal was 10 demos per week. Seldom hit the goal.

I started selling “Coated paper liquid copier” and we carried in our wagons. Had to take the liquid out for  moving, lots of ruined suits!!!!

 

  • Can you tell us a couple of funny story about selling copiers in the seventies?  

We sold the Apeco 288. It was a liquid coated paper roll copier. We call it the “Jam o meter”. When jam on a demo, this happen often, you told the prospect. “ I am glad that happen, now I can show you how easy a jam is to clear.

  • What is the biggest problem you seeing facing the industry today?

Always looking for a new pricing scheme. ER: “cost per copy”, “MPS” and know “no meter service contracts”.

Another problem is that you can sell yourself out of problems [cash flow] and another is you can sell yourself out of troubles.

  • If you had to would you do it all over again, if so what would you change?

Yes the copier industry has been to me.  At dealer level better selection process and training.

  • What’s the one piece of knowledge that you’d like to share with new reps entering our industry?

Three  pieces of knowledge to rookies, Activity, Activity and more Activity.

Rich thank you or this!  Please feel free to connect with Rich Sissen through his Linkedin page and tell him that you read Selling Copiers in the Seventies with Ricoh Sissen!

-=Good Selling=-

Selling Copiers in the Seventies with Darrell Leven

It was good to see Darrell Leven at the recent BTA National Event in New York City a few weeks ago.  During one of the breaks we had the chance to chop it up a bit about the imaging industry.  Where we started and how we go to where we are today.  During that chat is when I found out that Darrell started selling copiers in the late seventies.  I asked if he would mind contributing to our Selling Copiers in the Seventies blog.

Here's Darrell!

What year did you start in the industry and what was your first position?

June 1, 1977    

Territory Sales Representative  

Modern Business Systems, Inc.

Started the Quincy IL sales territory.   Went there with a Savin 770 and a Savin 220 in the back of my station wagon.   They were the only two machines in the territory when I got there.   Three years later, had sold 423 copiers, had 4 technicians and a branch administrator in the new Quincy Branch Office. 

What company aka manufacturer or dealer did you work for during the seventies? 

Modern Business Systems, Inc.   Jefferson City, MO   (headquarters)

Territory Representative 1977-1981

Branch Manager   Springfield IL 1981-1984

Corporate VP Marketing   1984-1987

I sold Savin as a territory rep.

Initially I sold the Savin 220 (coated paper) and the Savin 770 Plain Paper machines.

Soon the Savin 780 with ADF was added to the mix.

Later the 700 series was speed/ feature upgraded to the 870 and 880.   The Savin 895 was added to the product line to offer reduction and 11 x 17.

We had a kick ass 60 month M-2 lease plan.

If you worked for a dealer please tell us what brands you sold?

Savin was the core product we sold in the 60’s and 70’s   In the 80’s, switched to Ricoh, added Panasonic and Konica copiers.   Also sold Exxon fax, Compucorp word processing and OKI white boards

What was the percentage of copier sales people that made it past two years?

 70%

What did you like the most about your job in the seventies?

It was a great time to be in the industry and Modern Business Systems was an outstanding company and industry leader.

What did you dislike the most about your job in the seventies?

Really nothing, it was an exciting industry, great people, great team and the money was great.

We had fun every day.   We kicked ass and took names.

What was the compensation plan like, was there a salary, what is just commissions or was there a mix of salary and commissions?

Salary and commissions….lots of bonus opportunities and sales incentive contests.

How did you go about finding new business, and what was your favorite of those methods and why?

Cold calls, networking, community involvement.   I enjoy meeting people so all was fun.   I would credit most of my early success from referrals from the people who bought from me.   I knew more people in Quincy and the surrounding area because of cold calling than most people who had lived there their entire life.

What was your favorite brand and model to sell and why?

Savin 880   Great machine, feature rich with AutoFeed and was the highest commission machine.

What type of car did you use for your demonstrations and how many demonstrations would you perform in a week demonstration?

First car was a 1973 Ford Galaxie station wagon.   Soon traded for a 1979 Ford Econoline Van….to haul 4 copiers rather than two in the wagon.   As a new rep in a new territory, I sold and installed all the copiers….needed a high volume delivery vehicle.

Our goal was 20 demos a month.

Can you tell us a couple of funny story about selling copiers in the seventies?

There are many but you would have to know the characters in the stories.

Prospects used to get excited when you showed them that the big orange lever on the side of the Savin 770 Copier could switch paper size from 8 1/2 x 11 to 8 ½ x 14 ….. that was a big selling feature over the Xerox 3100….it only has one size cassette in the machine.

What is the biggest problem you seeing facing the industry today?

Change and Profits.

What was your quota back in the seventies, was it revenue, GP, units?

Modern worked on a unit value system. Each machine had a unit value assigned.   Units also were paid a commission amount.

Back in the seventies Minolta copier models started with EP and Canon with NP. Do you know what those stood for?

 Not sure….guessing

EP - Electro Static Process      Excellent Process / Electro Process/ Excellent Prints/ Every king of Paper/ Extra Profits ?????

NP – Nano Particle          No Problems/New Process/Near Perfect/????

Note from Art:  The last question was interesting since Canon and Minolta were always competing against each other. The EP stood for Electrostatic Process ( the joke in the industry was eny paper), as far as the NP, well I'm really not sure and hoping someone can and tell us.

Thanx Darrell!

Darrell Leven National Sales Manager BEI Services   816-729-7037

Selling Copiers in the Seventies with Mike Stramaglio

I think the first time I met Mike Stramaglio (CEO/President MWA Intelligence) was at some National Ricoh event when he was President of Hitachi Koki Imaging Systems.  At the time,  I was with Jack Carroll (former principal of Century Office Products), I did not have to chance to speak with Mike at that event but listened carefully as Mike and Jack traded off a few stories about the Minolta days.  After Mike had left, I asked Jack, "who was that?".  Jack then proceeded to give me the low down on Mike's career with Minolta and then Hitachi Koki. It was apparent that the two of them had a great relationship.

Over the next 15 years Mike and I have had the chance trade some emails and chat some at industry events.  A few months ago, I reached out to Mike to see if he would like to be one of our "Selling in the Seventies" guru's. 

It was not until I heard Mike's answers that I realized what can be accomplished by sales people in our industry.  The copier sales guy that makes it to the top and keeps on going.  That's fracking awesome, and should be fodder for younger reps that they too can reach for the pinnacles of success in our industry.

Selling in the Seventies



What year did you start in the industry and what was your first position?

Mike:  Wow, Art I haven’t thought about that in a long time and I am proud to say my career in the copier business began year mid-year 1974! 

A young guy of 24 years of age who barely knew what a copier was?!   A friend of mine I used to play a lot of baseball with told me “Mike I am working for Xerox selling copiers and making really good money and you should do it too!”   So out I went and interviewed with Xerox,  A.B Dick,  3M and a few others now gone and I took the first job offered to me which was with 3M as a up and down the street sales rep! 

It was a fantastic opportunity for me and I will never forget they sent me to Minneapolis for some of the best training I ever had in my life.   Amazing experience!

What company aka manufacturer or dealer did you work for during the seventies? If you worked for a dealer please tell us what brands you sold?

Mike:  I worked downtown Chicago for a year or so and all of my training paid off and was making good money working with a great team and manager!  I was young …had some money and working downtown Chicago what could be better! 

One day my manager resigned and  that was a real disappointment because I had a great deal of respect for him and we had a lot of fun as well.    He went to work for a brand new Toshiba copier dealership and since the 3M copiers were mostly Toshiba built and branded 3M,  it a easy transition for my old boss and a few months later he recruited me to join him at the dealership.  I had a great commission program and could sell anywhere and to anyone!  I was on my way!

What was the percentage of copier sales people that made it past two years? 

Mike:  My experience with turnover was actually pretty good in that 70% of the sales people made it 2 years or longer.   We were well trained, energetic, well paid and ambitious in a growth industry.   It was a wonderful learning environment for anyone who wished to work and make money! 

What did you like the most about your job in the seventies?  

Mike:  I liked everything about building my career in the 70’s !    It was a professional and exciting environment for all of us who served the industry and the few things your question made me thing of ….. I  had freedom to be as good as we wished to be,  I had terrific people around me who really cared about my success and invested their time in me with outstanding mentoring,  I remember how proud I was in the 70’s to be cutting my own path with a product that was breakthrough and truly made a difference.   Freedom to win and freedom to lose and I didn’t like losing much!

What did you dislike the most about your job in the seventies? 

Mike:  Good question ….I did not like having to load machines (heavy very heavy)  on a Feral Washington cart,  lug the demo equipment up three flights of stairs and or elevators!  I had to have my own station wagon  and moving that equipment around ruined my suits,  probably broke my back and always spilled toner!   Of course the flip side is that I always sold the demo equipment because I did NOT want to bring the machine back down!  

What was the compensation plan like, was there a salary, what is just commissions or was there a mix of salary and commissions?  

Mike:  Haha ….a salary!?   Yes there was a small salary and the rest was draw against commission and boy did I like the commission!  At the dealership my first comp program was $15K salary,  $20K draw and a commission program I could earn up to $130-150K if I KILLED it !

How did you go about finding new business, and what was your favorite of those methods and why?   

Mike:  New business was easy …..only three methods!  Phone canvassing,  cold calling and referrals!  I loved cold calling because back in the day it was so much easier to just walk into an office without security or signs keeping you out and frankly people were ok with it.  If you could cold call you could make a lot of money and meet some great people.  

What was your favorite brand and model to sell? 

Mike:  Way back  …..my favorite was the 3M VQC 209!    It was such a cool machine to demo and I had a ball with it in front of people!  Of course when we moved to plain paper my all time favorite machine was the Minolta 450Z !

What type of car did you use for your demonstrations and how many demonstrations would you perform in a week?  

Mike:  I bought a “beater” Chevy station wagon and I would never be happy if I wasn’t doing two demonstrations per day!  It was a numbers game and it had to happen that way! 

Can you tell us one funny story about selling copiers in the seventies? 

So many funny stories ….literally every day was funny!  One that I can remember it was a hot summer day in Chicago and I was lugging a Toshiba machine over to Northwestern University.   Back then you had to park far away from the procurement area and if you can imagine rolling a copier across campus figure how where I was going and so I finally figured it all out and I pulled the copier into the lobby and I was hot and sweaty and had to use the bathroom ! 

So, a guy in a suit was walking by me and he stopped to ask me what I was doing and what I was pushing.  He was a nice guy and I told him why I was there etc.  I asked him if he would watch my machine for a few minutes while I used the men’s room and he was kind enough to help me out.   I came out and he said come on I will take you where you need to go.   

He helped me with the machine up to the office and when we got there he introduced himself as the man I was there to see!  I was so embarrassed that I asked the guy to watch my machine while I was in the bathroom …OMG!

Funny enough he bought the machine and throughout the next few years I ended up selling more than 110 machines!  I never will forget that experience  and I hope relationships are as important today as they were back in the day!  Actually I KNOW they are!

What is the biggest problem you seeing facing the industry today? 

Art….I see many problems but the opportunities far outweigh the problems!

Obviously “print” is slowly eroding and our industry is adjusting to this singular issue.   But to me the biggest challenge is “change management” in that the channel needs to welcome a new infrastructure (ERP) capable of IoT,  Artificial Intelligence,  true accounting capability for real tie data and analytics.   We need to be bold in making the right investments for Managed IT services or what I refer to as Managed Business Services (MBS).  

MBS is the umbrella for the new and exciting multi billion dollar growth industries coming our way with robotics,  services and a level of software for Intelligence we have never imagined before.   Our industry leaders must promote the new tools,  new strategies and frankly new distribution.   Dealers who fail to be aggressive will indeed fail and or be sold! 

Thanx,  Mike this was awesome, I find it fascinating to learn more about what the business was like in the seventies. I appreciate the time and the look back in the past.

I enjoyed my time with Mike and I hope that others enjoy these blasts from the past from those excellent sales people that sold in the Seventies.

-=Good Selling=-

Selling Copiers in the Seventies with Jack Carrol

Before we start, I thought it would be good to give everyone a little back ground about my relationship with Jack Carrol. 

Jack was one of the principal dealer owners at Century Office Products.  Jack hired me in the summer of 1998 for a sales position in NJ.  One year prior, I had sold my stake in my dealership to my two partners. 

In essence, Jack was my first sales manager.  Over the years I learned so much more about selling, building relationships and was hitting six figure compensation consistently while at Century . In 2009, Century was sold to Stratix.  I have a great respect for what Jack accomplished and valued his leadership.

Here we go:

Art:  What year did you start in the industry and what was your first position?

Jack:  I start in the copier industry in 1971. I worked for SCM Corp, a fortune 100 company. I was hired as a Sales Rep. My responsibilities encompassed sales of equipment and selling supplies to the present account base. At the time, Xerox was the only company selling plain paper copiers. SCM sold treated paper units just like everyone else. SCM manufacture red their units in Skokie, Ill., can you imagine built in the US.

Art:    What company aka manufacturer or dealer did you work for during the seventies? If you worked for a dealer please tell us what brands you sold?

Jack:  I worked For SCM direct branch in Hillside, NJ. One of three NJ branches. SCM had 75 direct branches at this time. This office also had the regional dealer manager there, the Marchant calculator office and the SCM typewriter division housed here. Because I was a newbie I didn’t realize that SCM also had dealers, until I lost a couple of deals to Superior in Edison. Within a couple of years SCM started to relabel Minolta’s and others. SCM was one of the only treated paper companies to use sheet fed paper. Most of the others all use rolls of paper, so it cut it to size. The market than was dictated by Xerox. It was a rental market. So SCM rented their products, only the small units were sold outright. There was no leasing yet. Our process was in the paper. So, the rental was buying paper each month. Dealers couldn’t do this program, which was lucky for us.

Art:  What was the percentage of copier sales people that made it past two years?

Jack:   SCM didn’t hire very often. The few that they hire lasted 2 years or more.

Art:   What did you like the most about your job in the seventies?

Jack:  A year after I was hire I became a selling sales supervisor. I was transfer to the Princeton branch for this job. I supervised 3 sales people. About 2.5 years later SCM merged the three branches into one in Hillside, NJ which was central. We covered from Bergen to Ocean counties. I was now the Sales Manager and had about 14 sales people. So, most of the 70’s I was managing and going on sales calls just about every day. We also had major account people. We were ranked #2 in the country until they sold out to 3M in 1978. I really enjoyed this job of working with salesmen and being involved in sales every day.

 Art:   What did you dislike the most about your job in the seventies?

Jack:   During the seventies SCM started to relabel much of our line. In     1975 we started selling our 1st plain paper unit. We relabeled the VanDyk 4000, a Whippany, NJ manufacturer. It was 67 cpm and used a roll of plain paper. Some rolls were 11x1500 ft. (heavy). It was like the highly successful IBM I & II, but did up to 40 different sizes. Our next unit was the SCM 1200 roll fed plain paper with a sheet bypass made by KIP. Now we were in the middle of the Japanese invasion and dealers were moving into the marketplace at a fast pace. This was now developing into the price wars because people were now buying and leasing companies were now entering the business. Savin also now had the 1st plain paper liquid unit. Kodak was now in the market with all high-end units…75 cpm +. The other companies were still selling treated paper but now it was with powered toner. The result was the copier wars were on and we were moving up market with a 67 cpm unit. Only the strong would be highly successful

Art:  What was the compensation plan like, was there a salary, what is just commissions or was there a mix of salary and commissions?

Jack:  When I first got into the industry there was no salary. There was a $75 expense check and a $500 per month draw. Selling supplies was supposed to take care of your draw…. sometimes. Based upon the rental plan of either 12, 24 or 36 months and the monthly volume was how you got compensated.

Later, when purchasing/leasing came on we got a direct 7.5% commission plus supplies. Around 1975 sales rep’s salary was $750 per month, senior reps were $1,000. Managers were getting about $25,000 a year. We now also had monthly and quarterly bonus’. President’s Club was an honor from the day I got there and never missed one.

Art:   How did you go about finding new business, and what was your favorite of those methods and why?

Jack:  Every Monday was our phone day to set up appointments. Each rep had in a locked in territory. With your territory, you got boxes of prospect index cards. Your job was to keep this info updated. After any appointments, you were responsible to visit your account base and to cold call. Demos were very big. What fun it was to demo these liquid units. Some guys removed their front car seats and threw the small fold up cart into the trunk. You would load the liquid toner in a place where you hope they didn’t see you. When finished you would remove the liquid from the tank in a toilet bowl (mess). Leave the copy in the tray as long as possible so it would dry better. Many closes were as simple as putting the agreement on the decision makers desk and shutting up. Around 1975 you had to have a station wagon. One of my demo programs was convincing one of my accounts in a 10, 20+ story building to let us use his machine for demos. We compensated him and it worked out well, sometimes 10 demos in a day. It was also a referral at the same time.

Art:  What was your favorite brand and model to sell and why?

Jack:  In the 70’s I sold primarily SCM. The 1st 4 years it was probably the double sheet fed console the 211, 30 cpm & very reliable.

Art:  What type of car did you use for your demonstrations and how many demonstrations would you perform in a week demonstration. 

Jack:  I believe much of this was previous stated. In addition to the station wagon and the large building demos, we used a monthly demo day. Each rep had to bring in to the office at least one demo in the am & the pm. We served a nice lunch. This started about 1975 because of our new 67 cpm plain paper copier. This program was successful. Our weekly demo goal back then was 8-10 demos per week. So, doing demo’s in accounts and having the demo day each month greatly aided the sales rep’s quotas.

Art:  Can you tell us one funny story about selling copiers in the seventies?  

Jack:  Not funny but……….Duplifax started when Jerry Banfi traded his wife for a copier dealership. Steak & Beans contest. NY vs. NJ. Every phase of the meal was different kind of beans. The customers in the restaurant loved it. This was when I came up with the demo’s in customer’s offices in multi floor large buildings to get 10 demos in a day.  

The SCM/Kip PPC always jammed under the drum and started to smoke. It smelled like toast. One of their divisions was Proctor Silex who made toasters. Some guys gave away toasters with the copiers. Lucky, they got the employee price. In the early 70’s I knew a guy who substituted plain paper copies and removed the liquid paper copies on the demo.

Art:  What is the biggest problem you seeing facing the industry today.

Jack:  Even though I’ve been out of the industry for several years I keep touch with dealer owners……like Larry Weiss, Andrew Ritchel, and several others.

With Ricoh’s recent changes it somewhat enhances the dealer’s opportunities. Mergers continue, manufacturers constantly keep putting out the software to keep them and the lion share of placements appear to go to the big guys. The small/ regular dealer can’t compete with decent size prospects. So, it will continue so only the strong survive. Obviously, technology is playing a major role every day. So therefore, the industry will continue to thin out.

Art:  Jack, thanx so much for your time on this, I'm sure many of our readers will enjoy this.

Jack: glad you enjoyed it, it was fun to go back in time

-=Good Selling=-

Selling (Copiers) in the Seventies with Larry Kirsch

Just a few minutes ago I completed my call with Larry Kirsch.  Larry has been a Print4Pay Hotel member for more than ten years and has fourteen more years in the business more than me (37 years)!  Incredible! 

It's truly a blessing to have someone in your back pocket that you can lean on.  Thus, with out further ado, let me present our interview with Larry Kirsch.

Art:  What year did you start in the industry and what was your first position?

Larry:  I started in 1966, and I started as a supply sales rep.  My territory was NYC, and my territory was maybe 7 block square (Wall Street area).

Art:   What company aka manufacturer or dealer did you work for during the seventies?

Larry:  In 1968 I enter the world of copier sales.  Being a manufacturer all we sold was SCM (Smith Corona Marchant).  There were liquid machines and others that used zinc oxide paper which also used a transfer agent called dispersant.

Art:  What was the percentage of copier sales people that made it past two years?

Larry:  I would say about 50% or less made it past the two years.

Art:  What did you like the most about your job in the seventies?

Larry:  I liked the challenges that were presented to me, in addition the sales training with SCM was exceptional.

Art:   What did you dislike the most about your job in the seventies?

Larry:  The micro management, you had to come in by 8:30AM and back in the office 5:30PM which was a little to regimented for me.  There were times when you could not make it back and you had to conform to those policies and procedures.

Art:  What was the compensation plan like, was there a salary, what is just commissions or was there a mix of salary and commissions? 

Larry:  I received 22% commissions of the gross sale, and received a draw that was paid back on commissions. 

Art:  What?  22% of the gross sale, what did these copiers sell for?

Larry:  We sold them for $1,500 -$2,000

Art:  How did you go about finding new business, and what was your favorite of those methods and why? 

Larry: My favorite method for finding new business was mailers and paying off the mailroom attendant at SCM to give me the return mailers that were sent in by potential prospects.  Knocking on doors and drops off were also quite effective.

In addition at times I would compensate the facilities manager or super of the buildings if they alerted in advance who was moving in or out.

Art:  What was your favorite brand and model to sell? 

Larry:  Savin 220 was my favorite, it was an easy product to sell.  The Savin 220 sold for about $1,500 and we were moving about 100 of these a month.

Art:  What type of car did you use for your demonstrations and how many demonstrations would you perform in a week? 

Larry:  Since I worked in the city, we did not use our vehicles.  Once in a while we had to use a taxi in order to bring the demo out.  That was quite an adventure.  We were required to do ten demonstrations a week.  In order to do those demonstrations we had to find a facility where we could leave our demonstrator.  We would then gather the demo units and wheel the device to the demonstration.

Art:  What did you do during the winter for the demonstrations?

Larry: We also had a video that we would bring out to the clients.

Art:  Can you tell us one funny story about selling copiers in the seventies?  

Larry:  With one appointment,  I took a client out to lunch and during the lunch he has asked for the proposal.  I then wrote a number on the napkin and presented that to him. He stated, “what the hell is this?”, I stated before you get upset take a look at the napkin.  He looked at the napkin and stated, “when can you deliver?”.  He also asked me to put a formal proposal together but assured me that I got the order.  I was then known as the “napkin closer” in the office.

Art:  What is the biggest problem you seeing facing the industry today? 

Larry:  With major accounts, I’m finding that there are many more people involved in the decision making process, thus potential deals are taking much longer to close.

Larry, thanks so much for you time, this is awesome!  I had no clue what is was like to sell in the seventies, nor doing in the Big Apple.

-=Good Selling=-

Selling Copiers in the Seventies

Last week I was uploading some older CD's to ITunes, when I came across one of my favorite CD aka Albums by one of my favorite bands. 

The Rolling Stones with "Sucking in the Seventies" was a compilation album that was released in 1981. All of the songs on the album were performed or written in the Seventies.

I had my epiphany that there really isn't that much on the web about what it was like to sell copiers in the seventies.  Actually, I don't think I've ever read anything about selling copiers in the seventies. 

I started in 1980 as a technician, moved to sales in 1981 and I heard the stories about those that came before me.  One of those stories, was that there was so much money to be made, that most successful sales people all had very expensive silk suites.  Sounds kinda funny now, but that story was the lure that kept my nose to the grindstone to make the bucks.

Wouldn't it be a great idea to have an interview with those that sold copiers during that decade? In addition, it would be awesome to get that content on the web so that it is archived forever. 

Over the last two weeks, I've been able to put together a short list of seven people in the industry and all have agreed to take part in the interviews over the next few weeks.  Selling Copiers in the Seventies will be a compilation of blogs similar to compilation of songs from the Rolling Stones.  My plan is to post one of these blogs each week for the next ten weeks.

A few of the questions that we'll be asking:

  • What was your compensation plan like?  Was it straight commissions, a salary, commissions and salary?
  • What did you like most about selling copiers in the seventies?
  • What was your favorite brand and model that you sold?

We're going to have eleven questions in total and I'm sure that there will be some awesome stories from these veterans that we have lined up.

I'm still looking for four additional veterans, if you or you know of anyone who might be interested, please feel free to email me their contact information or send me an email apost@p4photel.

-=Good Selling=-

 
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