Saturday, December 29, 2007

Selling Copiers " How to Maximize GP"

Thought about this the other day in car, made myself pull over and jotted down a few notes for everyone. I've complied a laundry list of points that I have adhered to in order to maximize Gross Profit.

Over the years I've also concentrated on moving boxes no matter what the cost. I will address this in a blog later this month.

"Maximize GP"

  1. Stay away from Clients who are just looking to replace a box. If you are aware there are multiple players quoting, be prepared to get a low GP and not get the deal. These Clients are buying on price, it will take an extra special effort to get the deal and also get a decent GP. Do you have the time or the fortitude to hang in there? Why not set your sites on sales that will pay the bills.

  2. Search for Clients who are NOT in the market! While cold calling in person, take a good look at how they do things. Ask the receptionist if they are scanning, LAN Faxing, printing to inkjets etc... Try to get an appointment to introduce yourself and when you're there don't ask about replacing a piece of hardware, however do ask if they are experiencing document problems, such as lost documents, making too many copies, high maintenance bills, excess breakdown of hardware, how their document workflow is conducted. Selling like this enables you to find their pain and may help you introduce a solution that can be bundled with a new piece of hardware.

  3. Sell the Extras! As you are writing the order or as you are drawing up the lease ask again about any accessories that may benefit the customer. Finsihing, Papertrays, 3-Hole Punching etc... the Client will be more apt to spend the extra money at this time to conclude the order.

  4. Lead With Solution Software! Look at what your manufacturer has to offer for embedded solutions along with third party solutions that your dealership has to offer. Lead with offerings for embedded print management, document management and LAN Fax solutions. Here you are setting yourself apart from the BOX seller (trust me, there are too many reps that still just sell boxes).

  5. Upgrade Your Account Base Early! Do not wait for them to call you or for the last 90 days of the lease. You've got to be in there at lease one year or more prior to the end of the lease.

  6. Become an Expert in Secondary Systems! Specialize in Wide Format, Digital Duplicators if your company offers these hardware solutions. There is is less competition and less reps who are competent with the solutions that come with these system. Take the time to learn your Vertical Markets for AEC, Print4Pay, Schools and Religion Accounts. Once you become an expert, you will stand out among the crowd.

In order to be successful you have to be the best at what you are doing. Put your self in opportunities to succeed and make a move to break away from the pack. Our job can be very rewarding, however being an order taker and just relying on Clients who are in the market will be the kiss of death.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

EIS Quatra Color Wide Format MFP Saves the Day!

I just finished my first install on the EIS Quatra "M" series from Paradigm Imaging. This is an awesome unit! The ease of set-up and install is exceptional along with the configuration of scan, print and copy drivers!

First, we had the unit dropped shipped to the customers location, this was a great savings since the shipment did not have to come to our office first and then ship to the customer. Second, we had the unit up and running inside of one hour! There were no issues with software, hardware or print drivers (whew)! Third, the software was easy to use and was very user friendly, we took about and hour to train the customer on all of the features they needed to use. Very cool software!

For those of you not aware of the EIS Quatra "M" series, Paradigm Imaging has combined a Graphtec 36" color scanner (24 bit) with Graphtec 24" color printer and their awesome Rocket controller and Image Flow software. Customers can scan scan wide format in color or monochrome, print in color or monochrome and copy in color or monochrome, all for under $9,000! We were also able to batch print, scan and copy.

Clients looking for a wide format color scanner (24bit) can expect to see prices upwards of $14,000 for a 36" wide system. The Quatra fills the void for the price conscious buyer that still needs high end productivity and solution work flow software. If you are player in the wide format arena, I highly suggest that you get on board with these systems!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Document Management Software & Vircosoft

Each month we will feature a "Guest Blogger" from third party solution companies that have a superior solution for our hardware along with being committed to the Dealer Community. This months "Guest Blogger" is Steve Breault from Vircosoft!

VircoSoft is a nationally recognized provider of total document management solutions with their roots stemming from the office equipment and systems integration industries. Today, businesses of all sizes require more from their technology suppliers than “boxes”. They demand sound advice and solutions that will save their business time and money. They want technology solutions that increase their bottom line. Imagine showing your customer a return on investment (ROI) within 60 to 90 days. Users agree that Pinnacle is an asset not just another liability. That is powerful.

VircoSoft’s world-class document management product, the Pinnacle Knowledge Management System™ is an extremely robust document management solution that comes standard with all the features you’ve been looking for. Pinnacle™ is actually two powerful applications in one. Pinnacle™ comes bundled with vFilerVircoSoft’s world-class automated filing system that will scan batches of documents all at once – error free. It will split batches of documents by barcode, create searchable PDF, OCR zones and full pages, recognizes multiple form types and is 100% hardware independent. That means it will work with whichever MFP or scanner you are currently selling or competing against. vFiler™ creates hands free scanning workflows by validating indexed information against your customers accounting system or database guaranteeing 100% accuracy.

Pinnacle™ is available through Vircosoft’s rapidly expanding national and international base of Authorized Reseller and Distribution Partners. Vircosoft products offer an affordable feature laden alternative to the often over-priced “main-stream” applications. Pinnacle™ is an enterprise level product designed and priced for virtually any size business.

Stefan Hoppe, president of DocuXtrategy say’s “VircoSoft’s solution software, sales & technical support training programs are incredible. Vircosoft is always there for us and our customers”.

Vircosoft recognizes that every business has its own specific paper management requirements. Pinnacle™ is easily customized to reflect each individual businesses unique filing, storing, managing and retrieval needs. Imagine a system that does what you want, not what a developer has built in.

Vircosoft has an amazing reseller training and support program and a field-tested solutions sales system that works. When is the last time you requested assistance and it took hours, sometimes days to get a response? The Vircosoft principle’s cut their teeth in the office equipment and information technology industries. They understand the challenges their resellers and distributors face every day.

VircoSoft’s highly trained distributor and reseller partners offer a complete range of professional services, including onsite implementation, data migration from current systems, technical support and training. As a trusted partner, great service is a requirement from every Pinnacle™ Reseller and Distributor.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Polling Copier Sales People #3 (Presidential Poll)

One of the neat features we have on the p4photel is that we often run many polls throughout the year. We've conducted polls about Color Cost per Page, Do You Think the Manufacturer that you Represent is Fair to Dealers, the Super Bowl and many others. The information provided comes from our members. The p4photel consists of 1,500 members from around the world, our largest group is from the United States.A recent poll of our membership were asked to answer this question:

These Polls Were from the Ricoh Family Group P4P:

Poll #1: Four years go by pretty quick. Lets see if we can pick who will win the Republican Presidential Primary!

(42%) Rudolph Giuliani

(4%) John McCain

(17%) Mitt Romney

(13%) Fred Thompson

(21%) Mike Huckabee

(4%) Ron Paul
Poll #2: Four years go by pretty quick. Lets see if we can pick who will win the Democratic Presidential Primary!

(54%) Barack Obama

(38%) Hillary Clinton

(0%) John Edwards

(8%) Dennis Kucinich

(0%) Joseph Biden

(0%) Christopher Dodd

(0%) Mike Gravel

(0%) Bill Richardson

Friday, December 14, 2007

Smart Copier Sales Person or Not So Smart with Lost Deals

How long have you been in the business, five years, ten, fifteen, 20 or more years? The cliches never stop do they, one that comes too mind is "what comes around goes around". For those of us who have been in the business a long time, well we've seen it all, new tactics get old and old tactics get new again.

Do you remember who you sold your first copier too? Hmmmmmmm, can't say I remember, how bout the first deal you lost? Do you remember the customer, sorry to say, I can't remember that customer either. How did you first schedule your appointments? I can remember getting a Doctors appointment book to write down the locations, appointment times, and phone numbers. As the days turned into months and the months turned to years I would find myself getting another appointment book for every year. After about four years I realized that could go back and review the accounts that I sold and contact them again for the potential upgrade, gee wasn't that smart of me to keep those books.
These days most of us keep our appointments, contacts and lists of things to do on our pc's and the appointment books have all but disappeared.

It's a fact that we lose more deals than we sell, you can't sell everyone right? Well, that may be an understatement, how many us of actually track the deals that we lose. Meaning, you didn't get the sale, you know who you lost to and you know the term of lease or purchase that the buyer committed to. A little of bit of "extra" tracking can go along way if you commit to scheduling call backs for the accounts that you lost. Heck, if you know they signed a 36 month lease why let them go and never contact them again. You already have the name of mr. or mrs. right, the make and model number of the system, plus the volume.

Put your lost deals back in your contact list and schedule a follow up call for 18 months, then 24 months, and then 30 months on a 36 month lease. You can spread the time a little further for the 60 month leases, try getting back in touch with them at 30 months and then every six months thereafter. Customers lost, can be a customer gained down the road. Another thought would be to keep them on a mailing list, where you will send them something every six months. If you've been in the business a long time, you'll agree that the months and years really do fly by.

If anyone has any additional comments, we'd love to hear them.

-=Good Selling=-

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Copier Sales Selling Tips #2

About 6 weeks ago I attended a Gittomer Sales Event. He was very entertaining, I would highly recommend for everyone to see him if he comes to your area.

Gittomer, made many notes of keeping sales FUN! Keeping Sales Interesting! He suggested delivering brochures and your business card in a waste paper basket!!!! Then using this line, Hello my name is so and so , I just wanted to pass along some information for the person who may have interest in this product and that I had taken the liberty of putting it in the trash can for you in advance (of course the trash can had my name, telephone, and logo on the can). I have handed out six so far and have gotten two return calls for appointment to talk about the wide format products!!

Did the gimmick do it! I'll have to ask, however it is something different and it is quite fun to reverse the cold calling.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Print Much?

You hear it over and over; printed pages on laser printers can have twice the volume of conventional copier and MFP's. Use your eyes when walking into accounts and the number of printers can be astounding, especially since manufacturers have the average monochrome laser printer price about $300.

Your mission is to capture these prints either with your MFP's or your laser printers. Lets face it, it's much easier for clients to authorize buying a new laser printer for $300 than buying or leasing a new MFP. What the clients are not aware of is the cost per page on these low end devices. Some of these low end laser printers can a black per page cost of almost .07 cents per page, while most of the low end color laser printers could be as much as .22 per page. Volume is the critical point for recommended a new print solution with and improved work flow.

Mission Possible

Secure an appointment with a "C" level exec, if there is no "C" level exec, the owner of the company will suffice. Your job is to be a consultant or a "Docusultant" (someone who can advise on page costs of hardware and document work flow). You can offer this service for free or you can charge for your services, $150 per hour is not uncommon in the industry. Here's what comes along with being a "Docusultant", you will have to stop selling! Use a consultative approach, explain that you are an expert in the industry and you believe that there may be a better way of doing things, that may increase productivity and lower costs.
Productivity is key when speaking with "C" Level executives.

Then, prior to your meeting, take the time to research the costs that are associated with the costs of laser printers. Most copier manufacturers now have software that will allow you to find the cost per page of most laser printers. Your goal on the first appointment is to secure permission to get meter reads from all of the print devices and permission to interview each user. Interviewing the users in critical, they know the work flow and you don't, just getting meter reads can be a disaster if you do not understand the work flow of the printed pages. Some users will state they have not idea how much they print, and if you can't generate a "meter" or configuration page from the printer you will have to rely on their information. Take the time to answer these few questions:

1. Do you only fill the paper tray when it empties? If yes, ask if they fill the paper tray to the top? If no, ask about how much paper they put in.

2. How many times to you put paper in the paper tray per week? It is much easier for them to remember weekly than monthly.

3. What type of documents do you print? Invoices, Letterhead, Research from Internet, Email, etc.

4. Do you ever print pages and then walk them to the copier to make copies?

5. When printing, do you print from different applications to make a final document? If so, ask them what happens to the final document, is it then copied, faxed or mailed.


For large companies with fleet printers there are devices available that will allow you to gather detailed printing device information, perform print audits, collect meter reads, check supply levels, and troubleshoot devices without installing any software. Once you have gathered all of the desired information, you will need to do the research.

Researching can be fun and exhausting work, make sure your numbers are accurate! Nothing will sour a proposal more that numbers that are not accurate or inflated. Present the client with information on daily, weekly, monthly and yearly page volumes along with the associated cost per day, per week, per month and per year.

Replacement Costs

There's another cost that usually goes unnoticed to the client and this is "Replacement Cost" . Replacement Cost is the cost to replace the laser printer when the device fails or when the derived needs to be replaced. Since most desktop printers are purchased rather leased, you will also have to find the cost that they paid for these printers or give them a guesstimate if they do not have the paper work. Once you have the cost you can do a straight line amortization over "x" amount of months. Under $400, I give the printer a 24 month life cycle or less, if something goes wrong with the printer the customer will most likely throw it out and buy another. Over $400 but less than $800, I would then use a 30-36 month life cycle. Over $800 and less than $1,500, I'll use 48 months and anything higher than $2,000 I would use a 60 month cycle. Take the cost of the printer and divide by the life cycle for the monthly replacement cost. I have never had a client that did not agree to this, because they all agree that the equipment will not
last forever.

Some locations will have larger and faster laser printers, when you are presented with these make sure you ask if they are under a maintenance agreement or not. Remember it's good to have all of the facts and all of the costs associated with every print device. Here too, include a separate line in your spreadsheet for the monthly cost on maintenance agreements. Keep it simple, and informative!

Provide them with the costs for each printer or the cost that is associated with each work group or department. Provide the customer with creative solutions or fixes to their document work flow that can use a mixture of MFP's and Laser Printers that will best meet their needs. Be creative, think of new ways to do things, present options to the customer to reduce printed pages, reduce the costs with printed pages, increase productivity and or improve their work flow.

Remember your mission; it is to capture pages on your devices! Present the customer with an all inclusive proposal that will include hardware, maintenance and supplies.

Most clients have no clue as to what they are spending for printers, supplies, paper and maintenance; your analysis will be a breath of fresh air. If you have done your job well, they will agree with your findings, and then presenting them with cost savings alternatives is usually a slam dunk. One other note, do not leave a copy of the findings with them unless they have signed a confidentiality agreement, these type of agreements agree that the information that you presented is you and your companies intellect property and can't be shared with anyone else.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Brownys (P4P's Top Ten Picks) for 2007

I've wanted to do a Top Ten Picks for quite awhile and I guess the end of the year is a good time to look back and reflect on the products of 2007.

When the P4PHotel was in its infancy back in 2004, and we had 200 or so members, one member stood out among the others. His name is Greg Brown, Greg and I became mentors to each other and we often called each other about the business and just to keep in touch. In March of 2004, Greg and I were finally going to met at the AIIM/OnDemand Show in NYC.

Unfortunately and sadly Greg Brown was killed in a car accident on Valentines Day of 2004. Greg loved selling Ricoh Products, along with Water Skiing, and powered down by a dose of Xbox. In less than one year Greg had amassed 285 posts on the P4P and was truly one of the first "Docusultants". So, in his memory and hence forth, when we do our top ten each year we'll call them the Brownys! What makes a Browny? An innovative feature on a system, a system that filled a void for end users or just the style or awesome power of the unit.

Winners of the 2007 Browny Award from the P4PHotel!

  1. Samsung 6345N (45 ppm MFP with no 11x17)

  2. EIS Quatra Series (Wide Format Color MFP)

  3. KonicaMinolta BizHub C550 (Coolest feature with Biometric scanning)

  4. Ricoh DX 4640PD (Duplexing Duplicator, innovative for duplicators)

  5. Xerox Nuvera 288 (288 ppm, awesome, plus it looks cool)

  6. Formax FD170 Bookletmaker (Offline Bookletmaking becomes affordable)

  7. Canon imagePRESS C7000VP Digital Press (70ppm Color @ 1200x1200 dpi)

  8. Panasonic C3 Series MFP's (The colors of the machines are awesome)

  9. Ricoh MP C2000SPF (20ppm Color MFP, affordable color to the office)

  10. Ram Logic (Ram Speed, Scotti give me more speed, innovative chip to make MFPs run faster)

There you have it, my picks for the 2007 Browny Awards. Greg, we didn't forget about you buddy!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Copier Sales Selling Tips

Over the years I've relied on many tips that I have either read, heard of or figured out for my self. One of my resources is the p4photel, over the years I make sure I post all of my tips. When I'm in a slump (we all have them) or I have some free time, I can go to the P4P and read them again. Listed below are some of my personal favorites, hope they work as well for you as they worked for me!

#1: When challenging another digital competitor, I will go the that manufacturers web site and download the print driver and other relevant software. From there I can evaluate the features of the driver and the click threws. I have found clicks threws to be very important to the end users, they want the least amount of clicks as possible. Once I understand my competitors print driver, I can the attack the weaknesses.

#2: Tired of playing voice mail tag? Tired of the prospect not returned your calls? To some this means that the prospect is not interested! Too others (the sharks) this means that the prospect is too busy and has not found the time to return your call. Use this to your advantage!! The next time you get the dreaded voice mail, leave them this message. Hi this is Art Post with XYD company, I tried to reach you on several occasions, I going to be in your area next week. What I'd like to do is to stop by at 1PM to meet with you, if this is not convenient for you, please call me at (phone number). Other wise I'll see you then. Most times you will not get a call back and if you do get a call back, and if you do get a call back it's a double win. I have even used this to place machines on demonstrations!

#3: Let me share something I do with cost solution proposals for everyone. Lets say I'm upgrading existing fax and printers in the office with an MFP or higher end fax or printer. Once I find out that the existing faxes or printers are paid for (there are no outstanding leases). I will then attack the premise of replacement cost and have the customer agree that there is a certain monthly replacement cost that is associated with these units. I will state that they will not last forever and will have to be replaced! I find out how many years they have had the equipment, plug in the estimated purchase price and divide by term of length owned (or compute a monthly lease). I then tell the customer even though these systems are bought and paid for, you have to have a replacement cost budget in place for when replacement is necessary. Once he has agreed to the replacement cost, I include a line item in the proposal outlining his existing costs along with cpc for those "paid" devices. How does this help? His monthly cost is higher that having just the cost to supply and maintain the equipment, therefor cost justification is easier and you may be able to cost justify a the system easier!

Good Selling!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Polling Copier Sales People #2

One of the neat features we have on the p4photel is that we often run many polls throughout the year. We've conducted polls about Color Cost per Page, Do You Think the Manufacturer that you Represent is Fair to Dealers, the Super Bowl and many others. The information provided comes from our members. The p4photel consists of 1,500 members from around the world, our largest group is from the United States.A recent poll of our membership were asked to answer this question:

These Polls Were from the Ricoh Family Group P4P:

Poll #1: Since there has been a change in the COO and the CFO and now that Nori is CEO, how do you think things will pan out in the future for Ricoh Dealers?

(17%) For the Better?
(17%) For the Worse?
(17%) Things Will Stay The Same?
(50%) They Have No Clue at All about Dealers

Poll #2: Should Ricoh Develop and Bring to Market a non 11x17 MFP, that will have a speed of 45ppm and will have the same cpc cost of thier MP4500 MFP's? This system would compete against the HP4345 and the Samsung 6345N, but would have the cpc of the MP4500 series.

(75%) Yes
(25%) No

Poll #3: How is your Dealership or Branch handling maintenance for scanning?

(16%) We have an additional MA that covers scans
(63%) We include unlimited scans with our MA
(16%) We're thinking about adding a Scanning MA
(5%) Geez, I never thought it would come to this!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Selling Color Printers to the P4P Market

Ah yes, the print 4 pay market, some will say it is one of the hardest accounts to break into and others will say they are the easiest to breakdown the walls.
As B2C color improves, along with improved thick stock media ability, there are a few color printers that I'll refer to as a "Print Shop in Box". You might ask whats a print shop in a box, well I got this saying from a printer in New Jersey that referred to his color printer as a "Print Shop in a Box" and the term has stuck with me. That printer was referring to the quality of color, the ability to handle many different types of media, and the ruggedness to run 60 or 70K worth of prints per month!

When I look at some color laser printers that would fit the mold of the "Print Shop in a Box", the Oki 9650hdn (just launched) and the Ricoh C811dn.
We'll take a brief look at the new Oki 9650, and I like what I see. Oki has finally added thick stock capability for duplex (65lb cover) through the paper drawers and 120lb through the base. You can add up to 4 additional paper drawers for a total of 2,650 sheets. Do not under estimate the Banner Paper feature on the this unit. KonicaMinolta has promoted this heavily on thier B2C MFP's. This is a feature that adds value to the printer, they can produce vertical signage for their customers, this can be an additional source of revenue!

In reference to the Ricoh C811dn, this is also a "Print Shop in Box. Quality is 9600 x 9600 (4 Bit) , along with the ability to duplex 90lb index. The C811dn-dl can hold up to 3,200 sheets of paper and can also produce banners for signage. Both the Oki and the Ricoh are superb units that will make a splash in any printers shop. I thing that I would like to see from both of these manufacturers is the option to add a Fiery from EFI. Keep in mind that when selling these systems in a print shop that you must max all of the memory, hard drives and RAM.

Enough about these systems here's a few tips I put together for marketing to Print Shops:

1. You've got to know your product upside down and inside out! They have no time for someone who lacks product knowledge. You must also know their language.

2. Also be ready to ROI sell them, if it is a new product, be ready to show them how to make more money with your product or how to increase their productivity.

3. Go out and invest in a artist portfolio, one that will hold 12x18 documents and build a library of samples and stocks to show them. Keep this with you at all times and also make sure you get samples of jobs from other printers that were done with your equipment!

4. Memorize your cpc's and the competitors cpc's, already be ready to have an answer for single click billing on 11x17.

5. Cold calling has always worked best for me, the first call is treated as a look see and introduction and that's it. Keep visiting them every few months and you will gain their trust.

6. Treat them like as #1 TOP Priority, some printers have incredible volumes and they need to be treated as #1 when there service call comes in.

7. They are in business to make money and if you can show them a way to make more they will listen. If selling them a new product such as wide format, offer to conduct a marketing blitz for them. Meaning, you take two days a month for the next three months to cold call for them their literature. Make sure you bring them back all of the business cards and you keep copies for your self. Never know what you may stumble across.

Special thanx to Shaja from the P4P Hotel for this quote:

Be aware that not all printers have embraced digital printing and you will be competing against press manufacturers. (By my digital printing definition, I am including good high-volume copier/printer systems such as Konica's bizhub 1050 with digital presses such as Kodak's NexPress.) Actually, you are competing against digital presses (ie., NexPress, iGen, Indigo, Xeikon) AND traditional presses designed for short runs (ie., Printmaster). So, in addition to being informed about other copier vendors' products, get informed about the big iron products, too.

Some printers are still VERY skeptical of digital's quality - be able to demonstrate how good digital actually looks and holds up (Art's portfolio suggestion above). And if you can get your hands on some digital press samples to compare against, even better. I have a color sample from a Heidelberg that my Konica bizhub color stacks up very well against.

Some printers are interested in digital's cost benefits but haven't been able to wrap their minds around the technology transition (for example, read up on UV coating). And, some of them have this unconscious mindset that if the technology can't be traced back to Gutenberg, then it's not really printing! So, don't go in with an attitude that you can change their world, because that's not what they want! Respect their past and their industry's traditions.
"Print Shop in a Box"

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Copier Questions Forum Launched!

The p4photel has just released a beta version for Copier Questions Message Board Forum. The Copier Questions Forum is designed to give end users the ability to ask our Docusultants questions that pertain to copiers and office equipment.

The Copier Questions Forum is the first forum dedicated to end users where they can have their questions answered from our p4photel members. Members will be able to monitor the boards and assist end users with tips, provide answers and even provide consulting advise to those looking to purchase a new system or evaluate their current cost and document workflow.

Registration is free, and like other p4photel forums there is no cost to become a member. Please take the time to visit, and ask questions. We will be adding additional features to the Copier Questions Forum in the upcoming months.

The p4photel also manages industry message boards for copier sales people, copier technicians and customer service representatives for Dealers and Manufacturers. Manufacturers boards now include Ricoh Family Group (Ricoh, Savin, Lanier), Kyocera Mita, KonicaMinolta, Canon & Xerox.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Some Copier Humor For The Holidays!

An office in the not too distant future.

An ageless and timeless copier scenario plays out a few years in the future। Hopefully you'll all enjoy.

Mary and Bob had been celebrating the Holiday Season with a few too many drinks at their company party in Boston. Bob thought of getting a color image of himself and Mary on the new color copier and emailing it to a few friends. Both Bob and Mary made their way to the Genesis 3995. Bob had been fascinated with the Genesis 3995. A few years ago Bob had been employed repairing copiers for a "good six months".

Bob, being the ever so kind technician raised the lid of the copier for Mary. Mary being on the petite size had no problem lifting her onto the copier, however Bob (they all called him BIG BOB) had a much harder time saddling up on the system. Bob keyed in the email addresses, with an outstretched finger he managed to press the print key for the copier. Just as the scanner finished the Plexiglass (oh, let me explain the plexi, a few years ago, someone had won a law suit because the glass from the copier broke and caused that person undue harm when they emailed a copy of their behind to the President of their firm) on the copier gave way and both Mary and Bob fell into the copier butts first! They both struggled to get themselves out, however with his feet in the air and Mary’s foot in the paper bank, yeah.....they were down real deep। There was not much they could do to remove themselves from the Genesis 3995 color।

After a few minutes, Bob the always-thinking technician realized that he could access the "TECH STAR” key. Now "TECH STAR” was developed a few years ago by Genesis Corp. and was basically "copied” from the GM support called "ON STAR". Bob reached out his arm, while grimacing, all he had to do was just overstretch his index finger a little more and he would be able to "tap" the "TECH STAR" key, and he got it ! Bob new that in a few moments they would have the help of "TECH STAR". As they waited for the connection Bob, managed to shift his frame a little to the left thus allowing Mary to remove her foot from his from the paper tray. A few tweedles and a beep and they had been connected to "TECH STAR"! A picture and voice was displayed on the copier LCD Display. In an accent unknown to Bob and Mary. The "Tech Star" representative announced his presence."Teke Starrr" des iz Ranjii, me mean Chuck, hough I hep youz? After hearing the voice Bob had realized that he was in big trouble. Bob was able to eek out to Ranjii I mean Chuck that he and Mary the two of them were stuck in the Genesis 3995 and that they were in risk of getting एलेक्त्रोकुते Now as much as Bob had a hard time understanding Ranjii/Chuck, Ranjii/Chuck also was not that familiar with Bob's heavy Bostonian accent and euphemisms. Ranjii/Chuck thought he heard Bob say he was stuck making a two-sided copy of and electrician’s manual! So as Chuck/Ranjii the ever-courteous support person was trying to convey how to access the Duplex feature and the Book Copy...... Bob being very knowledgeable about copiers knew he was not getting the proper help he needed, heck he could not make out a word "TECH STAR" was saying.

HE NEEDED HELP! For a moment he reminisced about his first day at “The How to Export Support Jobs Corporation” almost a good six months ago!By this time Mary had her hair caught in the scanner and the Genesis 3995 dual laser beam had almost burned her right foot away. Bob knew his only recourse was to try and rock the Genesis 3995 off its feet if he was to save him and Mary.So as Bob struggled to move his frame left to right, back and forth, left to right and back to forth. He was getting there and really working it. The Genesis 3995 was violently rocking back and forth and side to side. Did we forget about Chuck/Ranjii, he could hear the Genesis 3995 be shaken apart; his computer sensors told him that there was a seismic event happening at Genesis 3995. Chuck/Ranjii thought quickly, called his superior and they then placed a call to 911 in the US.

Some time later, the Genesis 3395 was on its side. Both Bob and Mary had been removed mangled plastic and the scene, the 911 call had alerted rescue to the terrible accident. Newspaper article “Tech Star Releases Two from Genesis 3995”

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Close End of The Year Copier Sales with Section 179

Special thanks to a member of the Print4Pay Hotel, who reminded me of the Section 179 of the IRS Tax Code. I'll use his quote here. "Time is limited as the asset must be placed in service by the end of the year. Your customer can capture this deduction under a dollar out lease thus getting a size able reduction in tax liability for 2007 without any money out of their pocket".

There are many small business owners who either forget or are unaware of the advantages of IRS Section 179. Our job is too remind them of the special advantage at this time of year. Personally, I will use this close to give my customers a sense of urgency to buy before the end of the year.

My end of year strategy is too do a mass email to all of my accounts in reference to the Section 179, and then to follow up with "key" companies that I think maybe able to take advantage of the code. You may also want to consider a $1.00 out lease at no interest in your marketing plans. Here's one way of how to do it, take the MSRP purchase price of the machine and divide by the term. So if we take 15,000 and divide by 36 , we have a lease price of $416.66 per month. From there we can "back out" the rate to see what the $416.66 yields to the end sale. In this instance we would get (using the 36 month $1.00 out rate of .03283) funded $12,691.44 . Here we are paying the interest on the lease and the customer is not. Keep in mind that there is no discount with this type of offer, the customer is already getting the benefit of Zero percent financing.
The business is out there, we just can't lay down and have excuses for not prospecting or marketing at this time of year. Excuses or negative thinking such as "who the heck is going to buy Thanksgiving Week, or There's not much going on this week, so I'll just take some time off will not work! Keep pushing, keep knocking on doors and create a sense of urgency for the client!

Good Selling!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Riding the Wave of Wide Format Color Copiers!

Are you riding the wave or still looking for your surf or boogie board? As the demand for scanning (color & monochrome) is at an all time high in the general office, the demand for color scanning is also gaining popularity in the AEC (Architectural, Engineering and Construction).

Recently, a few accounts have asked me for color wide format scanners to complement their existing wide format technology.

We have the a full line of scanners available through Paradigm Imaging, so in search of a solution one day I paid a visit Paradigm Imagings web site and to review all of their wide format scanners. I was in search of a color scanner, with a 36" throat (this would be the widest document that you could insert for scanning). What I found was amazing, a good quality color scanner could retail anywhere from $12,000 to $17,000! Plus, the margins were ok at best.

Now, I've been working with Paradigm Imaging for awhile and never really saw the value of their new EIS models. To tell you the truth, I saw, I read but didn't comprehend the value of these systems! Let me tell you this, if you are selling in the AEC market place and you have not checked out the EIS models (Multifunctional Wide Format), then you're missing the wave for increased sales and solutions!

Paradigm has about 12 different EIS configurations, the one that impressed me most is the Quatra series. The Quartra series is available in three different configurations, the M, C & E.

The one that I needed is the "C" series which includes a 36" color scanner, a 24" wide format ink printer and a Rockect PC Controller. Once installed the customer can color scan, color copy, scan2print or print and this is all controlled from the touch screen UI (User Interface) that comes with the Rocket Controller. BEST OF ALL, the MSRP is only $8,995. Now you can probably guess where I'm going with this.

We now have the ability to add value to our existing wide format placements, make the calls, there is a need for wide format color scanning, & copying. If you've hit a wall with your existing monochrome devices, along with many new players now selling wide format. You now have a real story to tell and solution to sell to your existing wide format accounts. Typically wide format copies can sell for as much as $3.00 per square foot and color wide format scans can be as high as $20 per scan. So, how many square feet or wide format scans do it take to justify one of these? I have done the math, with wide format color scanning, it only takes 9 scans to justify a Quatra, and this may be the easiest path to follow when conducting the ROI.

Go ride the wave, this is really what we needed!!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Who Should I Buy from an Authorized Dealer or Direct Branch?

Hmmmmm, should I choose Column A or Column B?

Many years ago you could only buy Copiers from Authorized Dealers. An Authorized Dealer is a privately owned company that is local to your geographic area. A Direct Branch is owned by the manufacturer and may or may not be local to your geographic area.

For many years the debate has raged who should I buy from. Too me it plain and simple, you should buy from the company that has the best support, the best people, the company that offers more than one manufacturers solutions and the company that change on a dime when your needs change.

Typically you should ask some key questions from your sales person or your service person.

  1. Ask the sales person how long they have worked with their current company. A sales person who has less than 2 years experience may not have the resources nor the knowledge to meet your needs.

  2. Ask about the the tenure of their service personnel and if you will see the same service technician. Having an experienced service person and the same person servicing the machine is important to quality work and troubleshooting. A company that send inexperienced service reps and multiple reps to the same machine is mot what you want. Too many chefs can spoil the soup and is true with copiers.

  3. Ask how long they have been in business. A couple of years may not be what you are looking for, today's machines are highly evolved from yesterdays, go with a company that has a proven track record.

  4. Ask if they carry multiple solutions from different manufacturers. No one manufacturer can be everything to everyone. Authorized Dealers will have multiple solutions from multiple manufacturers. While direct branches will only sell their solutions.

  5. Ask them how long it takes for a service rep to be on-site and then ask for some references. Doing the research before hand will save you time.

  6. Get a copy of the sales contract and service contract to review before you sign, a wishy washy document that was created in a word document is NOT THE CONTRACT! The contract will have many clauses to protect the Direct Branch and allow them to charge you extra for supplies, fuel surcharges and more!

Do you really want to buy from someone who offers the lowest price? Ask yourself, what are you sacrificing when you buy solely on the lowest price? Will it be the service, the training, or the support years down the road.

Typically, Independent Authorized Dealers have longevity with their customers, sales people, service staff and technicians. Typically, Direct Branches have the higher turnover with sales people, service staff, technicians and clients.

Now some of you who know me may say that I work for a Dealer and he doesn't know the other side. That's true, I have only worked for a Dealer and never a Direct Branch. My problem is that with 27 years in the business I don't know one rep who has more than 6 years with a Direct Branch while on the other hand I know 40 or more with Dealers who have over ten years with the same Dealer (they must be doing something right). Plus, why is it, that I will get new service accounts from the Direct Branch and I don't lose any to them.

The end result is most Direct Branches (mind you there are a few excellent Direct Branches out there) are out there to capture market share for the manufacturer. They have a high turnover of sales people and support people. Since they have NO "Value" to sell, they typically sell on price. What is "Value"? It could be a number of items, the value of support after the sale, the value of competent support staff to conduct on-site training, the value of troubleshooting a problem and finding a solution. The value of providing the right solution at the right time.

Some of you may be located where there is not a choice between an established Dealer or a Direct Branch, just follow that you should buy from a company that has the best support, the best people and the company that can offer more than one manufacturers and a company that can change on a dime when your needs change.

We all want a good price, however a cheap price is long forgotten after poor service!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Polling Copier Sales People

One of the neat features we have on the p4photel is that we often run many polls throughout the year. We've conducted polls about Color Cost per Page, Do You Think the Manufacturer that you Represent is Fair to Dealers, the Super Bowl and many others. The information provided comes from our members. The p4photel consists of 1,500 members from around the world, our largest group is from the United States.

A recent poll of our membership were asked to answer this question:

Poll #1: How Do You Feel About Your Job?

(17%) My job is Perfect and would not trade it for the world.
(33%) My job is ok, however I need more help from management to be more successful.
(21%) I'm overloaded with work and put in too many hours.
(13%) My job is not pleasant, no support from management or manufacturer.
(17%) I am looking for a new job as I read this poll!

Poll #2: Professional Corporations will offer a "piece" of the company to hold onto valued employees. This usually happens with Architects, Lawyers, Accountants, etc.Leads me to this poll:

Do you think Dealerships should offer "partnerships" to hold onto key employees?
(95%) Yes
(5%) No

Poll #3: What size company do you work for?

(13%) Manufacturers Branch
(13%) Large Dealer 50+
(28%) Medium Dealer 20+
(41%) Small Dealer
(6%) On Your Own

The goal of p4photel is to Inform, Share and Maintain the highest degree of knowledge for the Digital Imaging Industry. Simply put you've got a place on the Internet to share information, increase your knowledge and keep an ear to ground for the latest changes in our industry!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Top Copier Equipment Leasing Companies for Office Dealers

I ask you, what do customers hate more when they are dis-satisfied with Office Equipment Leasing Companies? Yep, it us the sales people that put them into a bad lease. Most reps who have been in the business awhile know about some of the pitfalls of a good equipment leasing company and a not so good one.

Selling the copier system is only the first part of the process, most customers also look to you for financing. Some salespeople do not have choice of what leasing company they can use and some do. Keep in mind that if you what the customer back not only do you need to give them good equipment, and good service, you'll also have to give them a good financial institution that will work with the customer, sales person or dealer! Remember that if you or your customer enters into a FMV (Fair Market Value) lease, it is up to the customer to notify the leasing company of their plans before the end of the term.

There are four basic scenarios at or near the end of the term. (A) Give the equipment back and pay the freight back to the leasing companies desired location. (B) Upgrade the equipment with the same equipment vendor a new one (C) Don't give it back and keep on making monthly payments for x amount of months (look to the Ts & Cs in the lease agreement). (D) Buy the equipment from the leasing company at a Fair Market Value.
When was the last time you read the back of one of those lease documents (whew!)? So what should you as the sales person or end user need to be aware of? To me, end of lease notification is at the top of my list along with the auto renewal. Any leasing company that requires you to contact them within a certain window (Window Clause) of time.... is not the company you want to do business with! Here's an example of a time line windows: Not before 180 days prior to the lease and not less than 120 days before the end of the lease. Not for nothing but a 60 day window is my only choice??? Plus, if you do fall into the Window Clause you may have to pay another year in renewal!!!!!

Now, I haven't read all of the leases from all Leasing Companies, however I can tell you which ones have the easiest end of term options for an FMV Lease and which ones do not have the Window Clause. They all have a renewal (Rollover Clause) clause however it is not for more than 90 days at a time.

Here's my top choices:

CIT Leasing Corporation, US Express Leasing, Clune Equipment Leasing and Great America Leasing Corporation

Lease rates for all of these companies differ, it seems to me that out of these four the higher the lease rate is will dictate the easier it is to deal with them at the end of the term. When it comes right down to it, you can't go wrong with these companies, just make sure that you and your customer are aware of the terms and conditions for each company.
Thus in closing here is a post from the P4P Hotel when it comes to the Dealers using Leasing Companies that have the lowest rates and usually have the heavy hand at the end of the lease with the Window Clause and Rollover Clause.
Great points all but who is to blame here? When one of our prospects does business with an obviously inferior company because their price was cheaper who screwed up? The prospect right? We think,"How could they be so short sighted." Well guess who the customer is in this scenario...WE ARE and the cheaper price comes in the form of lower lease rates. We are the ones doing business with obviously inferior companies because their price was cheaper. We are the ones keeping those inferior companies in business and we want to blame them? There are alternatives that allow us to keep our integrity, we just aren't willing to look at the bigger picture and do what's right.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Ricoh Wide Format Solution Guru's

I'll admit, maybe I couldn't see the ocean through the fog when I pummeled the new Ricoh W2470 printer over Ricohs pricing.

In four recent appointments for wide format, I was asked about color scanning on three occasions. This got me thinking, I don't have an all in one box for wide format color scanning, mono printing and copying. However, not many of my competitors have these either. The OCE TDS 450 combines a scanner and printer along with the Xerox 510DP. I then asked myself why can't I make my own configuration (just what my techs wanted to hear). Heck, I have the relationship with Paradigm Imaging , maybe I should give Eric Hansen a call.

I called Eric and we started the talk track on the Graphtec line of scanners and then we spoke about the software, I needed some really simple software to act as the middleware so I could replicate what OCE and Xerox were doing with scanning, copying and printing. Paradigm has software however I could only scan2file and then print for copying purposes. Not exactly what I wanted however I was on the right track. I'm not sure who told me to call Rich Hipsky at Ratio, but I called and told him what I was looking for.

As a Ricoh reseller, I am very familiar with Plotbase Software and somewhat familiar with Plotbase PM. Plotbase PM and this is too keep it simple can drive a host of wide format products along with all of the accounting and wide format functionality that you'll ever need. What I did learn from Rich is that they have a four button UI (user interface) software that will allow you to walk up to a monitor and and be able to touch screen for Copy, Scan, Print & More! You can view this demo here .

Plotbase PM will run on the server along with the UI on the monitor, users can then walk up and perform all of the basic functions for wide format scanning, printing, copying and more!! Just what I was looking for, now its time to crunch the numbers.

I took a look at the W2470 MSRP coming in at $11,565. plus $3,659 for the Dual Roll Feeder and then we'll need the Plotbase PM software. Cost for the software to drive the one LED printer and scanner is $3,800 complete! Now I need to add a scanner, I took a look at the Graphtec IS200 Pro LC 42" wide scanner (It does not do photo color, but spot color will work. It will do OK on graphical stuff that is spot color like signage type stuff or comic book type graphics, but not on "continuous tone" images like photos, skin tones, etc..) The MSRP on this is $13,995. I've now got a system that comes in at a mere $33,015 in MSRP and some very powerful software with Plotbase PM as the backbone of the system. I can now compete with where I could not compete before. I can also rest easy with Plotbase PM software that is reliable and powerful enough that I can compete with confidence with the likes of the OCE and the Xerox.

Another great feature of Plotbase PM is that you can add additional print drivers to the system, there is an additional cost, however in the larger AEC firms I truly mix and match and put on my creative thinking cap for multiple solutions and placements!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Why Am I Still Selling Copiers?

I'm not!! I'm selling multifunctional systems that can increase your productivity and save time (this way management can pummel you with more work). Yes, the technology of the copier has come a long long way over the past few years.

But to get right down to it, I don't know of any other job that lets me make my own hours, lets me go on vacation without telling anyone (hope my boss is not reading this) , hey as long as you have your phone, pda or pc you're working right, isn't that a rule? I get to travel down roads where I've never been before, and you're looking for the business that's out of the way and that hasn't had six copier salespeople knock on their door that day. Selling in a somewhat rural territory that borders the Atlantic Ocean (New Jersey Beaches) and is littered with farms and office parks, it truly a lot of fun at times.

During the spring I get to pack my waders and fishin pole, in hopes I can find a half hour to drop a line, later in the day I can make sure that I make ALL of my sons baseball games, no matter where they are. You remember the rule, as long as you have your phone, pda or pc you're working!! During the winter I still get in the car to cover every part of my territory. I can remember one year having the digital camera with me during December and I took a day cold calling, however while I was cold calling I also took pictures of homes that were decorated for Christmas. Come on, what other job in the world allows you to do things like this?

More often than not it seems like a quest, the quest to find a new account, or the quest to find someone who actually needs your products, your solutions or your creative ideas. I get up every morning wanting to sell and still have the Desire, Determination and Dedication to succeed in the business.

Over the years I have been offered a Sales Managers job, and have never taken one. Ughhhh, the thought of being in the office from 9AM -5PM would be unbearable along with the traffic, the drive time and the politics in the office! I like being able to wake up at oh lets say 8AM, get my java, and then hit the pc for some early work. Then being out the door by 9AM or so and arriving back home before the traffic starts. I enjoy not being at the office, I am fortunate that I only have to be in once every two or three weeks.

Change is good right? You bet, the technology, the solutions and how we have changed over the years is amazing. Do any of you old timers remember when the prerequisite to getting into copiers sales was that you had to have a station wagon?? Some of you new guys might ask why the heck so you need a station wagon, well there weren't any SUVs back then and you needed something to haul the copiers around in. That's right, back in the old days we would come in in the AM and a load a table top copier in the car, we put them on gurneys then (how morbid was that?). We would then make as many as 20 cold calls a day looking for anyone that was interested in a copier. Back then we had maybe four different models and they all could fit in the station wagon. I can somewhat remember the pitch, I would ask if they were in need a new machine or touch on some of the new features such as reduction and enlargement, and if they were interested, I told then I had one in the car and if they had 10 minutes we could take a look at it right now. WOW, demo on the spot, and then the demo was on to see if we could make the sale and get a check that day. I can remember many days when I didn't come back with the machine and just a check. How awesome was that!

Looking back, I would not change my job for any other job. Yeah, I've called seven letter words, sued (hey it happens) thrown out of places and even ignored the dreaded NO SOLICITATION signs. However along the way, I've been able to attend all of my kids functions, gone fishing, took power naps, traveled down roads I've never been before, gone on extended vacations, hid from the office, hid from the wife, had a few glorious days at the races, enjoyed days out with the wife. Heck, I'll keep on selling copiers (multifunctional systems) as long as they let me!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Death of The Copier Salesperson

Having been in the industry for 27 years, I have seen many sales people come and go. Ours is a tough road to pave on a consistent basis, some come into the industry and light a fire in the first few months and then they seem to fall off the wagon. There are the seasoned veterans with 10+ years of experience, salespeople who know what they are doing and were doing it right and they then fell off the wagon. What is that? What makes most beginners and seasoned veterans lose their touch, their skills or their enthusiasm?

Some of the newbies that I’ve seen come and go were force fed with leads and accompanied by managers at the start of their copier sales career. Most of them had the art of communication but just lacked the product knowledge. When accompanied by their manager these newbies excelled, or was it the manager that excelled?

What about the seasoned sales people that had stellar sales cycles and then loses it. I have seen some of them lose it forever and just decide to get out of the industry altogether.

Most of us on the Print 4 Pay Hotel knows what it takes to sell on a daily basis; they are the ABCs of selling in any industry.

I will touch my own experiences in the field and experiences from others in the industry, it’s more or less what not to do to kill a salesperson.

Our job is not easy, I spend many countless hours researching account volume history, service history and the costs they have incurred over the life cycle of their piece of equipment. For some, selling the customer is easy (great closers), for others they must rely on grunt work, crunching the numbers and making them happen for the customer and presenting the customer with effective ROI’s. Sometimes, it gets old when you have negotiated with the customer, closed the sale and then have to negotiate with management to secure the order. I realize most of this will probably only happen on the dealer side of the channel. However, this tends to be on the top of my list.

Industry Trends: Not all but most Managements inability to know current industry trends, whether they are cpc’s, or document technology. Your competition, what they are doing and how they are marketing themselves. Management that cannot change on a dime or Management that has not done their homework with new technologies and services that can be offered. Management has a tendency to move slowly. I’ve noticed that there are many proactive dealerships that are putting the time and money into becoming the leading Dealers in the merging technology of copiers, printers and document management. Management more than ever needs to be experts in the industry, they need to eat, sleep, and breathe all aspects of the industry.

Vertical Market Selling: New salespeople are not focusing on vertical market applications or selling. Too many dealerships give their salespeople Carte Blanch and let them sell every product to every market! This creates a sales person that does not have enough product or solution knowledge to be effective in selling for gross profit. Gross profit is needed for the health of the dealership! The salesperson is then forced to selling boxes on price rather than solving a problem for a customer or saving them time with new technologies and software.

Training: Many dealerships offer little or no training at all. How can we put people on the street and ask them to sell solutions or be successful when they must decipher the products, features, advantages and benefits on their own time? Time is the key element in sales, time is needed to prospect effectively and find the customers who are ripe for the new services and products that dealerships offer. A true sales person prospects by day and quotes by night!

Selling: Owners in small to mid-size dealers selling machines or taking leads when there are capable sales people to handle the business. Selling Owners must get out of the selling business and focus on financing and marketing of their company. From a first hand experience from two different dealerships, I’ve seen Selling Owners not focus on their business! Taking leads away from competent salespeople and either making the sale or not. Talk about killing someone’s ego, or hurting them financially, nothing lowers the moral more than a salesperson finding out the owner took a lead in that territory. Owners (as long as they have a sales staff) need to focus on vendor or bank financing, expanding profit margins and the marketing of their company.

Commissions: More salespeople come and go because they do not get paid on time or the rules are changed during sales cycles. Some salespeople are paid commissions monthly, some bi-weekly and others earn bonuses either at the end of the sales quarter or the sales year. Changing pay schedules or changing how and when commissions are paid whether it starts bi-weekly and migrates to monthly or the other way around has got be one of the most frustrating times for sales people. Most of us earn 80% of the money we make in commissions or bonuses, changing or upsetting the commission flow may and can cause financial woes with any salesperson. Make a plan and stick to it.

Salespeople: Most sales people in our industry treat the job as a 9-4; most will blame someone else when they lose a sale or a customer. Most will never achieve their quarterly or yearly sales quotas. Most will find a job outside of the industry. Most of them could not care less what happens in their industry after 4PM in the afternoon. Most of them find time to hide and say they are producing work. Most of them will not last two quarters in this business.Yet there are many that are on top of their game and continue to further their knowledge to support themselves and their family and a lot of them make a very good living in the office equipment industry.

My article started out as to how a salesperson can “die” in our industry. How stellar achievers that were once on top were now designated to the trash heap or decided to leave their company for greener pastures. I felt like this story is more about the typical grind that we go through on a day-to-day basis. The great high’s we can get when we’ve closed a deal that we have been working on for months or years or the feeling when you meet someone for the first time and get the order that day, plus getting the price you deserve. Why is it when a customer needs info or a quote we call them ASAP and get them the information RIGHT AWAY. Then after trying to close the customer on numerous occasions you get an answer from the customer stating that they’ll call you in a week. Well it’s been five damn years and I’m still waiting for you to call me back!

In order not to let a salesperson die, companies need to focus on where their company wants or need to go. From there they need to give direction to the sales team for monthly, quarterly or yearly goals. Goals need to focus on new accounts, satisfied accounts and referrals from old accounts.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Copy Machine Sales Suicide with The 3-5 Plan

Over the years there have been a few articles in reference to why the 3-5 plan is bad for Dealers and I admit there are some pros and cons. However, I'm going to tell you why the 3-5 is bad for the customer and bad for the sales person!

The 3-5 is basically three years of service and supplies rolled into a 5 (60 month) year lease plan. What's wrong with the plan?

Lets look at this from the sales persons view.

The sales person may be able to get the upgrade in the First Upgrade option, however securing additional business after the first renewal will not happen. Here's and example. Customer A: Enters into a lease agreement for a Multifunctional Copier System where the MSRP is $15,000, and for five years the payment for the lease is $300 per month, the customer also agrees to service and supplies for three years or 720,000 pages. The cost per page is .0125, the total cost for service and supplies is $9,000. The lease cost for the $9,000 is $180, the lease payment for the 3-5 then becomes $480 per month.

Now, lets say that the customer reaches the three years on the lease and the 720,000 pages at the same time (36 months) LOL!. You want to upgrade them, at this point in time, you have a balance on the old lease for $480 x 24 or $11,500. You then lease them another machine for $15,000 or $300 per month, now you'll have to add in what they owe plus another $9,000 for 720,000 copies. The customers new payment is based on $15,000 for the new machine, $9,000 for the NEW 720,000 pages and $11,500 for what they owe. The new payment then becomes a whopping $710 per month! So, this is the first upgrade after 3 years, what happens when the customer needs to upgrade again? Well, the same scenario takes place, the new machine for $15,000 = $300 per month, $710 x 24 is owed which equals $17,040 = $340.80 and then another $9,000 for 720,000 pages for $180. Payments have now escalated to $820.00 per month for a $15,000 piece of equipment. TRUST ME, I HAVE DONE THIS WHEN I DIDN'T KNOW ANY BETTER AND I LOST EVERY CUSTOMER THAT I SOLD THIS PLAN TO!

Now, do I have to tell you why this is bad for the customer? Not only is it bad, but it borders on sales suicide! Also, with the leasing companies not excepting deals over 175% of MSRP, you may not even be able to upgrade them at all! With the above scenario I was being kind and assuming that the customer would not run out of service and supplies before three years. What happens when they run out in two years and still have three years of payments left and now you have to add an additional 240,000 copies to cover them for the next three years? It can get real ugly!

There are many spins on the 3-5, there's a 4-5, a 2-3, they all don't work! So, if you're in the business for the long haul and you want to keep your accounts and keep them coming back to you, then stay away from the 3-5 or anything like it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ricoh Americas Eliminates COO Position along with Tom Salierno

Ask me if I am shocked! NO, however it was a piece of interesting news. Eliminating a position to me is a polite way of saying you services are no longer required.

Rumors have been rampant the past few months of huge financial losses coming from the Direct Channel, along with Dealers up in arms about the Direct Channel selling boxes below Dealer Cost. Couple this with recent surveys sent to Dealer Salespeople asking about the downward sales of Segment One machines, and they just don't get it yet, A3 vs A4 machines, 11x17 mfps vs non 11x17 mfps.

So, now enters Martin Brodigan, currently President of Ricoh Canada, assumes the position of CFO of Ricoh US. Was there a CFO of Ricoh Americas before this and if so did someone else get eliminated?

Keeping with tradition of my blogs, I still believe Ricoh Japan and Ricoh Americas Corp has "relaxed" during the last 18 months and has been resting on their laurels. Out went the talk about TDV (Total Document Volume), and in came we're Ricoh we have the best equipment and you should have to pay more. This was the talk track to the dealers and then comes the Direct Channel trying to save its own market share by selling equipment below cost.

Enough said, I for one still believe that Ricoh makes the finest products in the world, however they have to straighten out their Direct Channel and make them a profit center. Dealers can no longer subsidize the Direct Channel.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Copier Sales Forums

For those of you who don't know, the p4photel operates 1 unique message board that cater to Copier Sales People, Dealer Owners, Dealer Principals, Support, Manufacturers Reps and Copier Service Engineers. We have dedicated message forums for Ricoh Family Group (Gestetner, Lanier, Ricoh, Savin and Infoprint), along with Canon/Oce, KonicaMinolta, Toshiba, Kyocera and the just released Xerox board.

We keep the boards dedicated to the manufacturer for a few reasons:

1. Not many sales people like to share share their secrets with the competition especially when they are in your back yard.
2. A greater sense of camaraderie is achieved over time when communicating with other reps that are experiencing the same success, greater success or failure.
3. Sharing information among sales reps global! Whats working in one market may not work in another.
4. The ability to get information on a timely basis, and when your customer needs it! There are too many products now for me to be an expert, however with the resources of others, I can rely on their knowledge and expertise to help!

So, whether you are the new rep, the seasoned rep or the expert, we all have a place on the Internet to share your experiences, and ask your sales questions. Hey, we're all in the same boat so we might as well row together!

-=Good Selling=-

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Track Your MFP Sales Data!

How many of you write the MFP Sales order and then complete all of the paperwork that's needed to get the machine installed and then WHEW! You're glad that you finished the paperwork . If you're like me we have a Sales order, Lease doc, Bill of Lading, RGA (for lease return), Site Survey (God forbid if someone didn't know there was a few steps or stairs), Network Survey, Connectivity Cafe Doc, Commission Doc and any addendum's that may have to deal with the lease returns. Man that's a lot of paperwork!

Well, you're still not done, any sales rep worth their weight in gold, will also have a Sales Data Spreadsheet! Within this spreadsheet they will input Customer Name, Term of Lease or Buy, Lease Payment Amount, Name of Leasing Company, Gross Sale, Units, Model Numbers, Gross Profit, What type of Pricing Plan from Manufacturer, Cash Spiffs, MU to you the sales person, the wholesale cost of the unit, the profit on the entire deal, the amount of pages captures for each system and percentage of new business compared to old business.

Most of you may ask why do all of this extra work when my company tracks all of this data? I would say to you that the company tracks the data for themselves and will not ever give it to you, you think they want you to know what type of profit you are making for them? Plus there are many other benefits to tracking you own data. Within seconds you can go back years and get a better handle of you is ready for an upgrade, or do you have enough commissions coming through to take care of bills.

However, the single most reason to track your data is that most owners of Dealerships will state that sales never makes them any money! Certainly, I believe this is hogwash! However, when you are in need of a raise or looking for greener pastures your MFP Sales Data Tracker is your road to negotiating a better deal with your current employer or you future employer. Percentage of Profit, and Percentage of New Business along with New Pages Captured will put you in the drivers seat and will help you negotiate a customer comp package.

Dealerships need to act quickly with reps who are not making the numbers, and sales guys who are not making the numbers might want to think about getting another job, maybe taking orders for cars.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ricoh SP W2470 Pricing Blunder?

Could the SP W2470 be the biggest pricing blunder by Ricoh Co. in Japan?

A few months ago, I thought the pricing for their new Ricoh W2400 was out of whack (and I still think so), and now the SP W2470 comes along with an MSRP $11,545 and you HAVE to buy a dual roll feeder for the unit! That's right no single roll feeder is available! This is a MAJOR fault! Ricoh should have offered both a single and a dual and let the customer decide what they need, NOT THE MANUFACTURER!

MSRP with Dual Roll Feeder and the base machine is $15,204, I thought they should have come in around $12K tops, and they would be able to capture more TDV and increase placements while increasing consumable revenues. My thoughts is that many of the existing Ricoh 240W customers would add this unit as a extra and or a backup unit. However, not at this price!

Which leads me to this, I could offer my customer a Ricoh W2400 with copy and print with a single roll feeder for a list of $16,593. There's a difference here of $1,389. Now you tell me, what would the customer rather have just a printer that would lease for $296 (60 month rate factor) per month or a copier and printer for $323.56 per month? Right, for $27.56 I'll steer them to the copier printer all of the time! It amounts to less than a DOLLAR a day to have the copy feature! Oh, and by the way! Where is the form feed key on the Ricoh W2400???? If you send a wrong paper size to the printer you can not force feed the job, you must delete the entire print job.

Last year I sold 19 Ricoh 240W units, while only two had dual roll feeders attached. For me almost 95% of my units had a single roll feeder. Give the customers what they want!

Now on the other hand it would be nice to have the Ricoh SP W2470 in a 6ppm configuration, clients could justify the cost to add a standalone 6ppm system in addition to their existing machines.

On another note seems to me that there is still another segment of the market that is untapped. A market where there are 3 to 8 employees and all they need to do is print. They are out sourcing some 40 - 80 prints a month and can't afford payments of $296 and they are buying ink plotters whether HP or Canon. It would be nice to capture these customer also.

My general opinion is that Ricoh Wide Format is resting on their laurels with the Ricoh SP W2400. Their concern was to not capture more TDV, but to hold pricing similar to the outdated technology of the their competitors. And, while I'm on the subject, most of my customers could not give three hoots about the Document Server, Web Image Monitor, and Desktop Binder Lite. Thus with the launch of the Ricoh SP W2470 they have priced these units so they will not sell!

How many will I sell this year, one, yeah one might be right.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Padded Lease Rates! Ethical or Unethical, Where do You Stand!

Ethical or Unethical? Some companies use em and some don't. For those of you who are new to the business, I'll try to make some sense of the "padded" lease rates. "Padding" means to increase the lease rate factor from what the leasing companies published rate is. Meaning, the leasing company will provide the Direct Branch or Dealer with a rate factor of .0276 for a 36 month fair market value lease, thus a $10,000 piece of equipment would cost $276.00 per month to lease. Dollar amount times rate factor equals cost per month.

Now, here comes the sneaky part (geez, I hope I do not get phone calls from attorneys with pointy sticks!). The Direct Branch or Dealer will raise the rates to the reps, such as the rate going from .0276 (36 month FMV) to .0289 (36 month FMV), thus a $10,000 piece of equipment will now cost the customer $289.00 per month. The Direct Branch or the Dealer will then "back out" the rate. Meaning, take the payment and divide by the real rate factor (.0276) which will then equal the total dollar amount that is paid to the dealer by the leasing company. In this case the dealer would receive $10,471.01 or an increased revenue of $471.01 by "padding" the rate!

What's unethical about this you might ask? For me there are a few items that bother me. (A) If I am the sales person and I wrote a sale price of $10,000 for the system it would not be true, because we would actually be receiving $10,471.01 and not $10,000. (B) The fact that it is an FMV rates means the customer would have the buy-out price assessed at $10,470.01 and not $10,000 as stated on the sales order. So, if the customer wanted to purchase the equipment at the end of the lease they would be asked to pay the FMV for the $10,470.01 and not $10,000.

Many reps just quote a price per month and never show the customer the actual cost of the unit, so would they then be ethical because they never quoted the actual sale price for the piece of equipment? In other instances the leasing companies will actually give a percentage of the total dollar amount back to the Direct Branch or Dealer by giving them higher rates, thus the "padding" comes directly from the leasing company.

My beef is why do we (Direct Branches and Dealers) use "padded" rates at all? If you want more profit for your box just increase the cost of the box to the reps and let them do their thing. Padding rates in the long run may lose more sales, because the monthly payment will be higher than your competitor if you are both at the same dollar amount. What happens when a smart rep looks at a competitors quote and realizes that the rates are "padded". Surely he will tell the customer that they are be over charged in the monthly cost and the Direct Branch or the Dealer is not what they seem to be.

I'm sure there are many arguments to this, however it seems to me that there is no place for "padded" rates in our industry.