Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Death of The Copier Sales Person

Some feel the current model is broken. Now what?

Over at Ken's, a new contributor penned an article regarding the current state of copier sales people.

Are Your Solutions Sales Stalled? We’ve Been Expecting You. - it is a good read.

I am going to borrow Max's definition of Solution Sales -

"so· lu· tion /

[suh-loo-shuh n]

–noun

Anything you sell other than just copiers. My copier proposal was half the price and I still got crushed! They said that even though we have been their copier vendor for the last 10 years, going forward it was in their best interest to give their business to a more knowledgeable company that can provide more than just copy machines but actual solutions to their business objectives.

—Related forms

so·lu·tion·al,

—Synonyms key, resolution."

I like "Anything you sell other than just copiers..." - my adjustment would be anything you sell in addition to the copier.

Semantics is all.

And then there is my article, Selling and U of M Football where I am waxing on in a veiled manner about dealing with the competition. And the comment left by DocuNagurski struck me between the eyes.

So much so, I feel the need to paraphrase it - so here it is -

"Great analogous approach to selling...comparing sales to a pounding grind for 3 yards forward in off-center fashion. Wow, those were the days in the copier biz...hmmmm...."

I can remember like it was yesterday: Makin calls, movin biz forward...methodically, but successfully. Down the field we would go, not deviating much from our gameplan of pounding our message until the customer gave in...wow, I miss those days!...

...much like the gridiron, we are tasked with the long solution-selling that demands great execution but requires the kind of hail-mary that even Doug Flutie would envy. Yes, once was a day in Ann Arbor lore that you could return a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown (i.e. Seth Smith) and even though you were the new kid that never really complied to the ethical or managerial standards set forth by Sarbanes or Oxley, people would talk about your moves long after your poor revenue numbers garnered you a promotion to a coveted training gig...hmmm!

... you could reference to your future clients and wax poetically about how many product placements you had just on that street alone. I mean, not only do you have the most wins in your territory...but you have the highest winning percentage...history as well, and I'm not even going to tell you about my penetration rate...Nope, today its the 2-minute offense that requires the relationship sale, its the off-campus mistake that only the service manager can fix, its the overtime victory that nobody remembers because the CPC was so aggressive that we dont even want to take a meter read from you.

Yep, those were the days of 3 yards and a cloud of dust...the days of solid and expected revenue from a well-executed plan...oh, thanks for the memories...you put it all in perspective for me.

This being said, I still think Red Grange would have been a great copier rep!"
***

Now, his post may be dripping with sarcasm, it may not - and that is the beauty.

In my post I was talking about working against competitors not clients. His take on my article was different - and I think it comes down to perspective.

In the copier industry, and in most "commodity" based selling, the customer IS the competition. - let that sink in...

That is to say, ALL vendors in the industry are trying to jam products into the End Zone and get the poor schmo of a customer to "sign on the line which is dotted!" So it is quite natural for somebody from that slant to see my ideas as "anti-client" - after all, that is their world and all is seen through their prism of perspective.

But, it is not singularly the world of the copier rep - it's our world in MPS as well.

Customers and future clients see things in this sense as well - it does not matter that they may have you pegged wrong, a customer is always on the defensive, on a "goal line stand". The art in relationship building is to regain trust.

How do we do this?

That is the question.

If you liked this, try these:

The Death of The Copier Dealer

A Return to Selling

Managed Print Services - Everybody Sells

The Single Most Important Tool In Managed Print Services

Should HP Purchase IKON's PS Division? - Delicious!!


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