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!

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