Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Hardier I work the Luckier I Get

I've had this article around for awhile and it was picked up by a few major magazines in the industry, thought I would re-post it for all.

Is a saying I hear over and over from my boss (Jack Carrol), after I tell him about an amazing sale.

Good ole fashioned hard work, meaning working at least eight hours every day, working on proposals before or after prime time cold calling time (whether on the phone or in person), coupled with the expression... THAT THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT, has made my sales career in copiers highly successful.

I sell down the street, no major accounts, and no key account list, just a territory that borders the Atlantic Ocean up to the Raritan River and down to the trout laden Manasquan River in New Jersey (USA). I sell Ricoh products (the finest products in the world), the MFP's, fax, duplicators, wide format, software and whatever else I can learn that will help a customer reduce costs. Many times I have been able to place a new piece of equipment that will help client increase productivity while not increasing their existing payments. All you have to do is ask, most potential clients will allow you to do a cost analysis for them.

Here’s how I do it!

When speaking about replacing multiple pieces of equipment, let’s say a fax, an HP laser printer, and an ink jet printer. At some point in time the customer bought these units for cash or check. Find out or estimate how much they paid for these items, and then amortize the amount paid for those items over the life cycle. When speaking to the customer in the initial consulting appointment, have the customer agree to your method of amortizing those systems. My talk track has been this, when doing a cost analysis I look at all of your printing equipment, the fax, the copier, color ink jet printing and laser printing. I see that you have an Epson color printer, an HP laser and an Oki fax, are these units all paid for? How often do you require service on these pieces? How often do you replace these systems? Once I have these numbers, I explain to the customer that the monies paid for these systems should be accounted for in their imaging or printing budget. I also state that this equipment will not last forever and will have to be replaced. I then state that I will do a straight line amortization of these units. When uncovering a companies costs these “hidden costs” will help justify that new Aficio 2238 will of the accessories. These “hidden costs” for these systems based on 3 years for the laser and fax and two years for the inkjet can account for almost $80 per month (based on $1,000 for the fax, $1,000 for the laser and $300 for the ink jet). Then add in 2 service calls for the fax and the laser over the term and you have almost $90 a month. That $90 can represent a $5,000 savings to the customer and or may be the difference when trying to cost justify a $20,000 system. Does all of this make sense, you bet it does.

24 Years In The Industry

In my 24 years in this industry I've learned that you have to be able to learn and learn quickly, you must be able to think on your feet and most crucial.... listen to what the customer wants. Too often we (salespeople) are enamored with how much money we can make on a single sale and there are some who will refuse to sell if they don't make the money they think they are entitled too.

There are some who think if they can't make $1,500 in their pocket on a sale, they will not follow up and move on. Thus hoping to find greener pastures or a customer that is not well educated on what they are spending or buying.

Another True Story

I once sold a copier to a company at a loss. I had to pay my company $150 to make the deal. Crazy you may say, however this company has now purchased over 15 systems in the last two years and has never balked at price. I give them what they are entitled too, a fair price under MSRP and great service. I manage the lease, and the cpc's, and guess what? The corporate headquarters is located 2,000 miles away.


When a lease comes back declined for the fourth time, I do not give up. I keep on pushing and digging for new info, and will offer alternative ideas to the customer and the leasing company. In my twenty fours years I have lost two deals to non-approvals, and one of the two was approved by Advanta Leasing from another dealer. After hearing that, I vowed to not let it happen again.

Sales are what you make of it

Sales to me is about how you dress, how you groom, how you listen, how your work (prospect) and how YOU WANT TO BE TREATED AS A CUSTOMER and finally getting the order! Treat the potential clients and existing clients like you would want to be treated. If you don't have an answer, then say so, and tell the customer you will get an answer for them, and then commit to getting back to them in a timely manner.

Listen to what they want; even if it means you only make a few dollars, those customers will turn out to be loyal for years and years to come. Do not try to over sell them, as a matter of fact if they need to be downgraded, and then just do it. Odds are you'll be recommended to their friends and business partners. Work as hard for a dollar as you would for $1,000 dollars. Who knows, that little 1515MF sale could land you a $40,000 order from a friend in a month or two. You are judged by your first appearance! Know when to dress up and when to dress down. When cold calling print shops, engineers, architects or hot days, I will dress down. Slacks, pressed shirt, polished shoes and a few pieces of breath mints can go a long way, especially after a cup of GIANT coffee.

When meeting with CEO's, CFO's or higher administration, its time for the suit and tie. You need to make the call on when you need to dress up or dress down. Practice your grammar; you are always judged your vocabulary and your actions! Be creative, create solutions, and ask questions, in some cases present a whole new idea to the customer.

A few years ago, when Ricoh had just entered the printer market and we had a second generation of digital copiers. I had a customer who was in need of a digital copier. They wanted a system that would print and copy @ 85 ppm! We (Ricoh) did not have a digital 85ppm at the time. I could sense the customer being uneasy with my 60 ppm system. I took a chance and asked the customer how many documents they copied off the glass. My customer was not sure and called in his secretary; she said that they copied about 30 documents a day. These documents represented a large part of their volume and they needed to replace an analog copier that was 85 ppm. I then asked where the originals came from. The secretary stated that we print the document and then make the appropriate copies; they then need to be sorted, and stapled.After hearing this, I decided to shift gears and offered the customer a solution that included a 22 ppm copier (for doc off the glass) and two Aficio 4500 laser printers with staplers and LCC's. I pointed out the benefit of three systems compared to one. The combined print speed of the two printers for a total of 90 ppm and the lower toner cost. Well, what was the end result? The customer loved the idea, and did not follow up on the other sales proposals for the higher end digital copier. By the time the customer decided to make a purchase they went with our more cost effective solution.

BE CREATIVE and TAKE A CHANCE, make yourself stand out among the crowd.So while others have had down sales cycles, down quarters and losing sales, mine have increased. My profit, my sales dollars and number of units.It's all about......THE HARDER I WORK, THE LUCKIER I GET! And I believe luck is for rabbits!

Good Selling!

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