Sunday, January 27, 2008

Polling Copier Sales People

Here's a few more polls that were conducted on the Print4Pay Hotels Message Boards. The Print4Pay Hotel has dedicated message boards for Canon, KonicaMinolta, Kyocera, Xerox and the Ricoh Family Group. Enjoy!

Poll #1: With all of the acquisitions in our industry in the last 18 months, who do you think is going to get bought out in 08?

Who Will Buy Who in "08"?

(18%) Ricoh acquires IKON

(18%) Canon acquires IKON

(55%) HP acquires IKON

(0%) HP acquires Danka

(9%) Canon acquires Danka

(0%) Ricoh acquires Danka

Poll #2: Since scanning seems to be more popular than ever, geez I would have to say that 80% of my customers are now scanning!

How are you handling maintenance for scanning?

(19%) We have an additional MA that covers scans

(62%) We include unlimited scans with our MA

(14%) We're thinking about adding a Scanning MA

(5%) Geez, I never thought it would come to this!

Poll #3: 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?

(91%) Yes

(9%) No

Copier Sales Tips "Call Me Back One Time"

What's one of the most frustrating things about selling? Well, for me, its the promise of the return phone call. 
I make sure that I tell the client I will be making a follow up call on a certain day and confirm this with the client. Too many times, I find my self making countless calls because the client will not take the call or they are too busy, or something is a miss.

Hey, I'm a big boy, it's not going to break my heart if you don't buy from me, however please just pick up the phone, email me, send me a text, or leave me a voice mail, am I asking too much here?
Now, I can't take credit for this, however this was posted on the P4P Hotel Message Boards, trust me it works.

When all else fails trying to get in touch with a prospecting customer, make a last ditch effort.There are some situations when you have tried everything within your power and still make no connection. After you have made many attempts to get an appointment, there is one last-ditch tool you might want to try. A sales rep I know has used it, and says that 90 percent of the time, people will reply. So when you have tried everything else, try this:


Fax #:Dear (Name),

I’m sure you have an excellent reason for not returning any of my calls. Because I don’t want to be a nuisance, please choose from the following options and fax this back to me at (123) 555-7890.

· I’m on safari and haven’t gotten my messages.

· I’ve been drowning in work. Call me next week… I will take your call then.

· I am not working here anymore; call in care of NASA.

· I am sorry and will call you back soon.

· Please call me back at _____ a.m. / _____p.m. on ___/___/08

· I hate you and don’t ever want to talk to you.

· Other ________________________________________

Sincerely, (Your name)

Yes, I have used this and yes I did receive a few responses. Some I wanted and some I didn't want, however it did allow me to move forward with some clients and acknowledged that I was wasting my time with other accounts.

Let me know if you have used this or will use it and how it works out for you!

-=Good Selling=-

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"MFP Wars" Hi Speed A3 Devices vs A4 Devices

In the MFP (copier) business A3 devices are capable of reproducing Ledger Size documents (11x17) and A4 devices are confined to reproducing Letter and Legal Size documents.

In recent years HP led the charge with A4 devices with the HP4345 45 ppm), complete with duplexing, stapling, fax, print, scan and stapling. Hp is using an AIO (All In One Cartridge) that combines toner, drum, cleaning blade, toner waste, magnetic roller and cleaning blade. Samsung during the last year launched the 6345N(45 ppm), another A4 device that also has all of the features of the HP4345 plus a few more. The Samsung 6345N uses a separate drum cartridge and a toner unit (houses magnetic roller, toner and hopper). Six months ago Xerox launched the Work Centre 4150 (Xerox claims a monthly up to 200,000 pages a month), the Xerox 4150 is OEM'd by Samsung and is almost identical to the Samsung 6345N. Just three months ago Muratec launched their version the MFX 4550 (also the Samsung 6345N). Toshiba has recognized the need for hi-speed A4 devices also, and I expect them to launch a similar product in 2008. Samsung already has plans for a 55ppm A4 device to launch in 2008!

So whats the big deal with these devices? Industry reports indicate that upwards of 90% of users do need need to print A3 (Ledger), plus these devices can support average monthly volumes of up to 10,000 pages a month or more! Typically all of these devices have a higher per page cost that traditional A3 devices, the cost per page can be almost be half the cost of A4 devices.

Back in the 80's when Minolta launched the 350Z, it was a unique system in that it could scan 11x17, but could only copy letter and legal. The selling advantage was that you could reduce your 11x17 documents down to a more manageable paper size. Why can't this be done today? When are manufacturers stepping up to the plate and delivering real savings to customers. How about designing an A4 system that has a per page cost that is equivalent to A3 devices., and also giving customers that ability to scan 11x17 if needed.

It seems like Samsung and HP are driving A4 devices, while the likes of Xerox and Muratec are relabeling. Can or will Ricoh, Canon, Toshiba, KonicaMinolta or Kyocera design an A4 device for the ages that will copy, print, scan and fax with the traditional cost of A3 devices.

Love to hear from others on this.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ricoh USA " GIANT Changes Ahead"?

If you haven't heard Kirk Yoshida is coming back to Ricoh Corporation USA. Rumor has it that another top exec will be gone shortly. I have also heard through the grapevine that another brand will disappear (Savin). Keep in mind that these are rumors, I am only passing on the information that I have heard. However there are some interesting possibilities down the road if you believe what you hear.

Could another brand really disappear? I can’t see any reason why it can’t can you? If you’re looking to cut costs, and maintain or increase profit it makes sense, right? You’ve got the Ricoh Dealer Channel, Savin Dealer Channel, Lanier Dealer Channel, and Ricoh Business Solutions all competing against each other . I believe it would make good sense to drop the Savin brand and move them all to Lanier or the other drop Lanier and make them all Savin (are you guys in Atlanta hearing me). Here’s an excerpt from a Ricoh Press Release last year “Ricoh’s Gestetner dealer network in the U.S. will merge with the Lanier dealer network and form a new national dealer network selling Lanier branded products”. Just the logistics of maintaining three different brands and a Direct Channel has to be overwhelming!

From yet a third person, I heard that Kirk is being brought in to FIX the Direct Channel, what does fix mean??? Are they intent on losing money, or are they intent on building a GIANT, the likes of Xerox. Look at all of the moves in the past year, the creation of the PPBG (Print Production Business Group) the joint venture with InfoPrint from IBM, acquiring Hitachi Printing Systems and the collaboration with Kodak’s Nexpress for four different models.

From that day in Dallas (Ricoh Vision) when Ricoh announced that the Gestetner brand was gone, along with all Gestetner Dealers now moving to a NEW NATIONAL DEALER NETWORK, I thought there was going to be more to the picture. I had called a few friends and stated “what if”, the “what if” referred to smaller Ricoh Dealers, and or Dealers that were not maintaining their quotas. Could or would Ricoh step up and tell them you have two choices, you can still sell our products however you have to go under the Lanier National Network. How many dealers would fall to this 30% maybe 40% or even more, and how about if some of these Dealers where in major market areas? Wouldn’t it be correct to assume that Ricoh would then able to build a GIANT Direct Channel, control price, profits and would just have to deal with the likes of Canon, KonicaMinolta and Xerox Direct for the Major Accounts.

I’m not saying this is going to happen, but we all are still hearing the rumblings of another GIANT that is looking to protect and increase market share…..HP! Rumors abound that HP may buy IKON, look at what has happened in the last few months with IKON, they have been buying back stock, along with the stock taking a nose dive in recent weeks. The stock has dropped almost 50% in the last year! If HP buys Ikon, Ricoh is in serious trouble especially after Xerox buying Global last year. Canon on the other hand escapes since they manufacture almost all of the HP engines and consumables.

We’ve all have seen stranger things happen in this industry, and lets face it with Document Management Systems making tremendous growth in the last year along with companies jumping on the “Green” bandwagon, everyone is looking to decrease the amount of pages printed. Where is the growth? I’m no expert, however with all of the recent changes I tend to think it is in the very high end of the market (Production Printing) and very low end of the market (SOHO).
I guess we’ll all just have to wait, won’t we?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Too Many MFP Solutions & Hardware?

How many do we need? At last count my manufacturer (Ricoh) has 66 current models of MFP's, 36 current models of laser printers, 9 current models of duplicators, 7 current models of Scanners, 9 currents models of Faxes, almost 30 different software solutions and a price list that comprises 1,977 products??

In order to be proficient with all of the products, I spent countless hours reading about all of the products and where these products will be able to help my clients!

In order to keep all of this information, I have my home/office PC, a notebook, a cell phone with all of my contact information, three plastic filers (that I keep in my card), countless USB drives packed with information and a brain that is just about fried.

Will the madness every stop??

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Copier Sales "Populating Your Base"

There are "Hunters" and then there are "Farmers".

The Hunters in our industry will not bother with low margin sales, low volume systems, and will pull out of competitive deals. Typically Hunters will only go after high margin deals, and higher end systems, they are out for the one, two or three big scores per month that will pay the bills and generate big commissions.

Farmers on the other hand will take low margin deals, low volume systems and everything else that comes along. Farmers can place more than 10 boxes per month, while generating more new accounts.

Populating your base is essential to longevity in our industry,  reps that tend to place more boxes per month (Farmers) are basically sowing the seeds for future success with placing almost five times as many boxes as the Hunters. Down the road Farmers will have 5 times the opportunities than Hunters to upgrade existing accounts.

A couple of things that I have learned over the years is that small accounts will grow to larger accounts, they tend to be more loyal, and their needs will change like everyone else. My Mother always told me to take care of the accounts who got you to where you are.

Another item to consider is account turnover, you may be the best salesperson and have the best sales department along with the best prices. Yet, you will lose 35% of your accounts every year. The account turnover could be a new contact in the company who wants to do business with a past supplier, accounts that go out of business, move out of state, close their doors, and buy just buy from someone else. Go ahead, if you are using a sales tracking system, look back five years and see how many accounts you have resold. I've looked back 13 years and only 25% of the clients are still in busy or in my territory.

If you sold 10 boxes a month for 12 months you would have 120 boxes in the field, losing 35% brings the number to 78 boxes or 78 opportunities (6.5 boxes per month) for upgrades down the road. If you sold 3 boxes per month, you would have 36 boxes in the field, losing 35% brings the number to around 23 boxes or 23 opportunities (2 boxes per month) for upgrades down the road. Where would you be better off?

Populating your base is hard work, there is anguish, the phone calls and some times you feel that the profit you made on the box was not worth the trouble. The brighter side is within three years these accounts will start coming to fruition. What about customer referrals, the average is one out of every 20 customers will pass your name on to some one else. Gaining 20 new customers a year will generate one lead referral, gaining 60 new accounts a year can generate 3 lead referrals.

Many years ago, I saw potential in an account, the account was price sensitive. I was not able to match the price, however I went back to my manager and asked it I could pay the extra $100.00 to make the deal work. He approved it, I made the sale, they took my $100.00, three years later I had an account that had purchased more than 30 new systems and I was able to make a decent profit off of every box. If you're in this business for the long haul.... become a "Farmer" and you still Hunt every now and then.

Good Selling!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Selling Copiers "Prospects Never Want A Lower Price"

I'm very pleased to present our next "Guest Blogger" Jim Parker from CBS Digital from Longview, Texas. Jim's a great salesmanager and has been oneof my "go to" guys over the years and he has put together a fanstastic Blog for everyone. Jim is also known as "Old Glory" on the P4P Ricoh Family Group Message Boards. Enjoy!

We are all often faced with requests to lower our price. However, is that really what is being asked of us? As Zig Ziglar says, “Thousands of ¼ inch drills are sold every year to people who did not want ¼ inch drills. What they wanted were ¼ inch holes.” Our customers never, I repeat NEVER want a lower price. What they want is a better deal. Whether you are competing with a current payment, competitive bid, whatever, it still boils down to wanting a better deal. The only way the prospect knows how to ask for a better deal is to ask for a better price. A peddler will just give him the better price. A salesperson will help him to see other options that may be available to them.

For the sake of this discussion, I am going to assume that the sales rep has already done their due diligence and gotten clarification. A professional sales rep will never “launch” into a rebuttal without first seeking clarification. “What leads you to believe that my price is too high?” or “Is there a number that we need to work together to try to meet?” are a couple of possible examples. The answer will go a long way toward determining which of the examples below you will want to try. If the answer has something to do with a competitive quote, make sure that the other aspects of the quote are comparable. If you are shopping for a kitchen appliance and get a quote that offers free delivery at a higher price, don’t you go to the cheaper place and ask for free delivery? You may have maintenance pricing that more than offsets the competitor’s cheaper equipment price. See the whole picture before you address the concerns.

I am also assuming the prospect would prefer to do business with you but needs help justifying his decision. If you aren’t his preferred vendor, probably nothing but price will win the deal.
Some of the choices below only apply to cash purchases and some assume a lease arrangement while some are applicable regardless. Every one of these will work for you someday while none of them will work every day. You just need to be prepared to try them all on every deal until something works. Nothing here is rocket-science, just common-sense and over 25 years of industry experience but don’t take any of them lightly. While some may seem obvious to you, none are obvious to your prospect.

In no particular order:

· Remove an accessory. “You can always add it later Mr. Customer.”

· Give away an accessory or supplies. Depending on your pay-plan, it is probably less expensive to give away an accessory worth $1,000 than it is to discount $1,000.

· Give away a printer…same principle as above, but may provide the incentive he needs. However, never suggest that they can take it home for personal use. That might constitute a bribe if the decision-maker is anyone but the owner. You might also consider giving away entry-level document management such as eCopy.

· Step down to a slower model. They may have wanted a 30 ppm because that is the speed of what they are replacing. However, the 25 ppm units of today are as productive as the 30 ppm units of yesterday unless all of their volume is long-run/single-page.

· Most units have multiple finishing options as well as multiple paper- feed options. What about offering a lesser option?

· Lengthen the lease. Sometimes just adding 3 months to the term gets the job done. If they prefer to do business with you, they should be willing to commit to an extra 3 months to get it done.

· If they have 3 months left on their old lease, add 3 months to the term and do a 90-day deferred payment lease rather than buying out the old lease. The customer gets the new equipment now but continues to make payments toward their old lease. Your payments begin when the old lease runs out. You haven’t paid the buy-out and they haven’t had to wait to get the new equipment or make dual payments.

· Step Lease. This is a lease where the first year has a lower payment than subsequent years. “Mr. Customer, what if I had a way for you to have that lower payment for the first year, would that make it easier?” If you can get away with a higher payment for the subsequent years, great! If not, you are still better off than had you given it all away.

· If you can’t compete apples-to-apples, bring in an orange.

By the time you have tried all of these, the prospect will probably have voluntarily told you the real reason he isn’t buying from you and it probably had nothing to do with price to begin with. Either way, you have saved face and maintained your integrity. As long as we can say that, we’ll do OK in this business.

Jim Parker
Director of Sales
Complete Business Systems, Inc.Longview, TX

Thursday, January 3, 2008

MFP Leasing Companies Crying About Portfolio's

I was going to do a little work on some quotes tonight, and then I received an email from a leasing company. Many leasing companies are not accepting applications for equipment from Mortgage Brokers, Real Estate Agents, Title Insurance Companies, & Residential Construction Companies.
Here's my take on this, we the Dealers did not force you to take these types of business, you looked at their credit, and approved them for financing. We as Dealers have been loyal by giving you all of the applications whether the good, bad or ugly. You the leasing company then picks what you want and what you don't want. Now, you the leasing company tells us you need to cream our applications only to take the markets that are performing well. To turn it around it would be like us sending ABC leasing company all of the marginal deals and sending the best deals to XYZ leasing company, ABC company would be offended and would tell us that they would no longer do business with us. So, why can't we tell them to take a hike, NOW you get zero applications from us and we will take our portfolio to someone who will take all of the applications! Hey, you made your own bed, so now lay in it and work it out.

It's leasing companies and many banks that are flaming the market! If this continues it will only make things worse for the economy not better.

If you are using any leasing company who has done this, I urge you to pull your whole portfolio, there are many other seconday leasing companies around who would love to have our business! yes, the rates will be higher, but think about this..... it seems the average 60 month FMV rate is now .0196 or $19.60 per thousand, compared to $1.00 out average rate of .0217 or $21.70 per thousand, the difference is $2.10 per thousand. So a $10,000 copier on a dollar out lease would only cost the customer $21.10 more per month or $1,266 over 60 months. What favor are they really doing us with FMV, we struggle to upgrade, struggle to return, pay shipping to return, struggle to inventory, struggle to make sure system is returned on time!

If we, are truly good sales people, we should always sell 10% or $1.00. Plus if you are that good, it would be easy to cost justify the customer even if they owned the copier at the end of the lease! Dealers must see the light at the end of tunnel instead of realizing profit NOW, is really no profit at all when we spend hours struggle to return systems.

Here's a statement from one leasing companies web site: At ABC Leasing we like being "unconventional" because finding ways to get things done is a lot more fun than accepting the "way things are." Seems to me that they are like everyone else!

I know of one leasing company that has a rate of .0203 for $1.00 out and rates for 10% are comparable to FMV. I making the switch as of today and will no longer be held hostage by the these leasing companies.