Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Prospect Much? Tips

Prospecting in the office equipment industry is equal to putting your shoes on every day. It's just something you do all of the time!

Now that I'm a little older and little wiser, I've been able to hone some of my prospecting skills to get better results and qualified prospects. Here's a few tips for you.

1. Sometimes during the sales process, the customer will ask for a better price, and yes you can use the standard close, "If I can give you a better price can we do business today?", however I'll also add that in order to get the better price I'd like to get two to three names and contact information for friends or associates that are in business that may have a need for my services. This is probably the best references or leads that you can get, and you must follow up on them right away!

2. Vertical Market Prospecting, follow up with other businesses that are in the same business where you just made a sale. Mention that so, and so just upgrading to state of the art technology and also make the statement that there are many features designed for your type of business that will save time and money. It's just like the copier industry, when you come right down to it, its a small world and everyone pretty much knows someone else in their same line of work.

3. Prospect Around The Corner, when you have made a sale or have gained an appointment be sure to make a call to other businesses in the area and let them know you'll be meeting with so and so, and ask if you can stop buy. The same goes true for knocking on doors, whether before or at the end of the appointment take the time to stop at other businesses and tell them of your success or just drop a card and a brochure. It may take so time, however these cold calls will pay dividends down the road.

4. When going to a network event, GO ALONE!, this will force you into having conversations with other people and not yucking it up with ]your buddy from the office.

5. Develop and maintain a mailing list of all your cold calls whether phone or on-site calls. Then set a reminder on a calendar program for a monthly mailing to these clients. You can mail brochures, flyer's or my favorite a neat little one page newsletter that will keep them updated with your new products and services. If you are religious in sending this every month, you will start seeing great results in 3-6 months.

If you have anything else to add, please feel free to!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

MFP WARS, Who Wins and Who Loses, Ricoh, Canon, Konica Minolta, Xerox or Sharp?

MFP Wars, basically I've never seen anything like the past year in the last 27 years of selling copiers. Direct Branches from KonicaMinolta, Ricoh, and Toshiba are basically selling MFP systems at cost or a few dollars above in order to acquire the aftermarket business. How long can this last? My bet is it will last as long as the deep pockets of the manufacturers will permit it.

All of the manufacturers have a dealer side of the business, recently a pricing issue was raised to one of the top three manufacturers in reference to the aggressive campaign that RBS is waging to acquire new business AT ANY COST, even if it means cutting into Ricoh Dealers business and profit margins. When the issue was raised to a senior level executive, they stated that they had no knowledge of this and that it could not be happening. The Senior Level exec then did some checking and found this out to be true and then escalated this issue to the VP of Sales (that's about where it sits right now). I seriously doubt that there will be any change in the SOP.

Now Ricoh is not the only manufacturer that has this problem, KonicaMinolta and Toshiba Direct branches are also in direct competition with their dealers and are looking to gain market share at any cost!

So, where does this leave dealers? For the dealers that are in the major market areas such as New York, Chicago, LA, Dallas, Boston etc, competition is fierce and dealers are taking a beating! Consider this, when the dealer loses a sale to its own manufacturers Direct Branch, who loses? The dealer loses because they did not get the sale and the clicks, the Direct Branch loses because they moved a box @ zero profit and in turn the parent company will lose because the dealers that buy at higher prices will not buy as many systems! So if everyone loses, what they heck are they doing? Preserving market share? At what cost?

Recently we have seen some new players in the market such as HP, Okidata, Samsung and even Lexmark has a full line of MFPs. Samsung has hit big with their 45ppm MFP that has an MSRP of $3,000 and due to launch a 55ppm system in the near future for under $8,000 MSRP. HPs foray with the Edgeline series will make an impact also.

I'll say it over and over there are too many managers @ Direct Branches that are teaching new reps to sell on price and price alone. I know they are under pressure to move boxes, however selling on price helps no one, especially the new reps that come and go. Basically thats the reason because they come and go, no one is their to teach them the skills of selling, such as FAB (feature, advantage and benefits), or Lock Out features that a certain system might have an most all the art of probing the customer and finding out the pain that they have or a solution that will allow them to sell at a profit. It seems to me that most Direct Branches are selling themselves into a hole they might never get out of.

I have a dear friend who works for RBS in New Jersey, we chatted the other day and he keeps stating that Dealers are the past and the Direct Branches are the future of the industry, I beg to differ, if that's the case then our industry is in a bad state of affairs.

As an industry we need to start from scratch, we need to hire energetic and dynamic people and teach then "How to Sell", educate them in prospecting, probing and customer relationship selling.

On the flip side I'm sure their are many fine reps out there that make a good living that are working at Direct Branches and Dealerships, however if the industry continues to "dump" boxes our way of life will could go downhill very fast.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Print4Pay Hotel Launches New Web Site!

It's done! We have launched the new site and you can get there via or.

The new website will allow for easy access to all to Ricoh Family Group, Kyocera, KonicaMinolta and Canon Message Boards. Also incorporated into the new site is my blog, which can be accessed by clicking "Selling MFP Solutions". Go ahead check out the blog there are awesome blogs that relate to Solution Selling and whats been happening in our industry.

New members will get three FREE documents that I have developed, "Top Ten Rules for New Salespeople", "14 Benefits of Leasing" and "Print Assessment Calculator".

Win $50 Best Buy card! All you have to do is log in, post a question or post and answer and you'll have a chance to win every month. Another contest is "Sell the Solution", here reps have a chance to win a $1,000 Amex gift card.

So, whether you are a veteran or a newbie, the Print4Pay Hotel is a great resource for information that is gathered on the street, and a great way to stay focused on maintaining your knowledge while sharing it with others in the industry!

Good Selling!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

How to Transform Yourself into A Solution Selling Guru!

With the industry rapidly changing and the on-set on Direct Branches just moving boxes to capture clicks, it is essential that we transform to solution selling.

So what is Solution Selling? Solution Selling can be a sale that incorporates a piece of hard with a software solution. It could be something as simple as a print driver setting that saves the customer time or something as elaborate as a Document Management Software application that is also have as piece of hardware attached to the sale.

How Do I Find Out If They Are in Need of A Solution?

There are many ways, it all starts with asking questions in reference to their workflow and "How" and "Why" they do what they do with a document or a piece of paper. Also to be on the lookout for certain situations of hardware and software. I'll take a few scenarios from situations that I saw in the field.

1. Side by Side Faxes: I was on an appointment with a referral from one of my clients in New Jersey, I asked him if I could "tour" his operation before we sat down. My client was very obliging and took me for a tour, while on the tour I saw two side by side faxes. Now, I know two side by side faxes are a dead give away that A: They have a heavy inbound and outbound traffic of faxes, B: They were probably not using LAN fax software and C: These faxes had a high cost per page.

I then asked about "How" they use these faxes for inbound and outbound, if I could pull a report from each fax and "Why" were they printing their faxes and where do the faxes go once they arrive?

After finding out the why and how, I offered to do an ROI Analysis Report on his fax workflow. By the time I was done with this particular department, I had on order for an MFP with Dual Fax lines, and a 5 user license of Ecopy Desktop Software, along with this they were now going to use LAN fax for all of their outbound documents with Ecopy. The end result was a piece of software and hardware sold at MSRP plus a customer who was elated with the paper/toner savings along with the increased productivity!

2. Printing, Gathering n Collating: I see this all of the time! People will print various document from different applications, and will then gather them together and manually collate the documents into a set and then place them in the copier for additional sets (whew), what a waste of time! On the other hand this customer was ripe for ECopy Desktop Software. If you don't know already Ecopy can act as a "virtual printer" and print copies a the documents to Ecopy software, from their the cleint can see all of their pages from all of the different applications, they can move any page to an position in the document and create a virtual document that has been electronically collated within the Ecopy software. From there the document can then be printed, faxed or emailed and then converted to a pdf document.

Once I see someone who is doing this I'll ask them this basic question, "what happens when you need another copy of this document?" Most will groan and state they have to spend hours remembering the file name from each application and then find those documents on their system. I'll then ask them that if there was a piece of software that could save them all of this anguish would they be interested? You know the answer.

So, in essence LAN Fax and ECopy are simple solutions that will help you become the "more knowledgeable" rep and can provide a relief of pain that is associated with the day to day activities of the document workflow in the office.

Becoming a solution seller means to be interactive with the customer, ask questions and probe into the "How" and "Why" they do what they do. Use your eyes, and ears whether you are cold calling or conducting an appointment. If you have an idea, let the customer know that you have an idea that may help them. Everyone is interested in hearing a better way of doing something.

Again, these are just a few of the "simple" solutions that will get you going, as you become more knowledgeable with software and hardware capabilities you will become more adept at offering advanced solutions, these simple and advanced solutions will make you stand out in the crowd and make the customer less likely to shop your price.

Monday, June 4, 2007 , Friend or Foe?

It seems everyone wants to move boxes. We've said this all along; more boxes generate more clicks for service and more clicks for supplies.

Lets face some hard facts, Internet Buying is here and it’s not going to go away! Margins continue erode for all aspects of our business, sales, service and supplies.

I’d like to tell you all about Potential clients who search for copiers on the major Internet search engines will see The link basically states that you can receive FREE price quotes from multiple vendors!

That’s a fantastic idea for the client, no interaction with sales people, no coming to visit your office, no looking at systems and IT can still hide in their hole. Everything is usually done via email. You click on the link and then answer six or seven questions in reference to your copier needs, speed, volume, special features, maintenance etc.

Buyerzone is good for the Client and good for Buyerzone and what I think is a bad idea for the dealer.

Here’s Why:

We have been signed up with Buyerzone for the last year to receive copier leads. I have received over 50 leads. I have not closed one of those leads!! When you get a lead, you've got to keep in mind that there are five other vendors in your area also receiving these leads (especially if you are in a major market).

I have offered machines for as little as a 5% MU and still have not received the order. I have sent emails (that’s how you receive the leads) and have followed up with phone calls. Eighty percent of these people requesting quotes will not speak to you, even if you tell them you are calling on behalf of Buyerzone. Keep in mind that they are probably doing this because they do not want to talk to anyone and they are looking for the lowest price and may or may not want to do the research on their own.

I believe that dealers subscribing to Buyerzone are hurting their own market. This market is price driven and that’s it! Most of these potential customers only want email quotes. All I can think of is that all of the supplies will also be bought from the Internet and service contracts will be ignored and customers will only get service when they need it. If you think you’re going to make money on service and supplies, then forgetaboutit! (Famous Jersey slang)

I went along with this for about a year, just replying to the emails and then making the calls. I figured all of these leads would be gravy and I kept on working my target accounts. After getting no response from my quotes, I set out to find out why systems were not being purchased from us (me). Yep!, the answer was price, price and price, someone was giving the equipment away for a few hundred dollars over cost on a large system and a few percent on the smaller systems! How can a commissioned rep compete with these tactics. WE CANNOT!

Most of the leads were for small machines Segment 1 or Segment 2. Here’s what worries me. Over the last three weeks, I have received three leads from Buyerzone for mid to large size accounts in my territory! Two were for 30ppm color systems and the other was for a 65ppm system. Times are changing and it looks like IT buyers are hitting the Internet more and more. They do not want to be bothered by "salespeople" or are we consultants?

What to do, what to do, hmmmmmmm……. Do you waste time on following up with the potential client to make an appointment so you can tell them why they should pay more (keep in mind that most of them will not want to see you), or do you just prepare a quote to meet their needs, send it email and hope they contact you, or do you just throw the lead in the garbage? The low end of the market has already eroded margins; do we need this on mid to large volume systems?

I’m a firm believer that doing business with Buyer Zone can degrade the dealers market for commanding prices that are essential to their well being and the well being of their industry. Why? News travels quick, good news travels quicker and IT buyers getting substantial savings travels at lightning speed! Can you image if 10% of the companies in your area just searched quotes through BuyerZone?

Do you need the IT buyer of one company talking to another or getting a job at “xyz” company telling others the only way to get quotes is though the BuyerZone?

I decided to test the waters and really see what is going on.

I filled out a BuyerZone prospect sheet, stating that the Print 4 Pay was looking for a copier. I got an email in an hour saying I was matched with six different dealers from my area (of course one of them was my dealership), and one was Konica/Minolta branch office! It’s been 24 hours and I haven’t received any phone calls and zero quotes via email. Now, I’m thinking what the heck is going on, maybe they all know me (Naw, not me, but wishful thinking)?? Maybe they can’t meet my needs for high-end color? Or am I just to impatient and expect a response ASAP!

Day 2, I have heard back from two companies ( well, I guess I was impatient), one represents OKI MFP (I clarified and they are a dealer) and the other is a dealer for Canon (or so they say). The company that represents the OKI called and asked me all of the right questions, volume, speed, feed, and stapling. However, I was taken back when he told me the system was very expensive. Anyway, he did not push for an appointment to delivery the quotes and said that he would email them. He seemed knowledgeable with his product and services.

With the second company I got a call from the “service manager” who stated he would sell the system at cost to get the maintenance revenue!! He also stated that his salespeople do not want to be bothered with these types of leads because they cannot make any money, however all he hopes is that I will take out a maintenance agreement. The “service manager” did ask for an appointment to sit down and deliver the quote, I reneged and said to please email it to me. He also stated that his ImageRunner 2620 was capable of doing 600,000 pages in six months with out a service call (why must people do this?). I told him I had quotes from other companies and he asked who they were; we spoke about speeds, feeds, etc. I then asked him what was the bit depth of color for the Canon, he seemed perplexed, and I then said it has to do with the depth of color. He then responded and I quote: “You mean DIP”, I said DIP?, and then I stated “don’t you mean DPI”? He said yes, at that point in time I just asked him to email me the quote as soon as you can.

I realize that I’m not be quite ethical in doing this, however I believe that dealers who are selling equipment at cost or a little over cost are jeopardizing my future. I need to find a way to get some of this business and what the competition is saying or doing.

Out of these two dealerships neither mentioned that they would like to see my operation or probe further to see if their system has a particular solution that may save me time and money. Neither representative talking about scan2email, print drivers, scan2folder, security, document management or software.

Hopefully, I will have a few more calls in a few days and will have the pricing I need.

On another note, I called my boss and told him about the competition and he stated that he knew the Konica/Minolta dealer that is associated with BuyerZone in our area and he confirmed that the owner takes the leads and looks to move the boxes at cost! I think he’s traveling down a slippery slope, we’ll have to wait and see. I do not have a quote from the Konica/Minolta dealer yet.

If you are subscribing to Buyerzone, maybe you should think about canceling your membership and do not give these companies that many choices and if you don’t want to cancel then you should change sales tactics when dealing with these customers. No appointment, no quote, if they do not answer your call, and then no quote!

With BuyerZone, I was hoping to move a few more boxes and thought it would be easy and that my expertise would come out with my quotes and follow up. Boy, was I wrong. Take it to the bank, the thought of aftermarket service and supplies are intriguing, however the thought of IT buyers buying from us instead of IngramMicro and CDW could be a big gamble.

BuyerZone also has a link for Document Imaging Systems, now this may be a horse of a different color! If Document Imaging is a popular as all the hype, I would then suggest that you sign up for this service to give it a try. We are going to sign up sometime this week. I am hoping that the Document Imaging may not be as cutthroat as someone just buying a copier. Selling to real pain, or having a customer that needs a hardware and software solution may be able to put more Gross Profit in our deals. (link:

I am asking the owners of my company to cancel their subscription to for copiers.

It’s now Sunday night and I have been working on this off and on for three days. I’m going to post this and then do a follow up reply when I hear from the other dealers in reference to their quotes.

Do you agree or disagree? Would you like to add anything? If so, please post a reply with your thoughts.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Need a job in the copier industry?

Over the years I have received many calls from head hunters, and on some occassions I have succumbed to setting up an appointment to "test the waters", on every occassion these interviews were fruitless and the out come was that I'll stay at my current position. Gee, I thought that some of these guys or gals knew my industry!

I've finally found the right guy! His name is Bill Diminno and he is the CEO of Innovative Performance Group Bill is a former copy guy, having worked for Imagistics, Panasonic and Ricoh. Bill knows his stuff, so whether you are the "down the steet" sales rep, Major Accounts, or Top Level Exec, Bill is the right guy to call.

Give IPG a call before you think about taking an interview with someone who is not from our industry!