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Friday, June 2, 2023

"Space, The Final Frontier of Copier Sales"


- by James T. Kirk, Captain of Starship Enterprise

Navigate the Universe of Copier Sales - Propel Your Sales Career to Stellar Heights

Stardate 9678.3. 

Over a glass of Saurian brandy in the lounge of the starship Enterprise, I found myself engaged in lively discourse with a few dealers and sales personnel about the current trajectory of sales and trading across this vast quadrant of space.

"...they(your prospects) entrusted me with the responsibility to generate a scope document, examine vendor proposals, participate in sales conferences, provide feedback on candidates, and oversee the implementation of the chosen solution..."

It was like a temporal loop - similar conversations had taken place light years before.

For more than a decade, I have been heralding change, echoing through the cosmos to dealers and original equipment manufacturers about the course ahead. It isn't about creating patterns of light on a page, or the latest software from the Daystrom Institute. The route to successful selling lies in the wisdom of our ancestors:
  • "I seek to be your trusted counselor."
  • "We must trade solutions."
  • "We need to heed the needs of our customers."

We've journeyed here before. As we cross the threshold of the customer's realm, our training takes command:
  • Initiate pleasant communication.
  • Engage the gatekeeper.
  • Probe with non-restrictive queries.
  • Forge bonds and mutual understanding.
  • Identify the decision-makers.
  • Unearth the customer's procedures.
  • Detect their discomfort.
  • Intensify that discomfort.
  • Spark immediacy.
  • Request the transaction.
  • Conduct negotiations.
  • Counter resistance.
  • Finalize the deal.
From the Academy of IBM to the halls of Sandler, the blueprint remains constant. We deploy strategies and tactics. We "phaser" big deals. Those we wish to form long-term alliances with are targeted as "prey."

Do you detect a pattern?

There is no violation of the Prime Directive here - it's the order of things, the status quo. It's our code, not the customer's. Consider their perspective (a Vulcan trait known as empathy). How would you feel to be the prey, the hunted?

I've served as an advisor to numerous star systems(hospitals, manufacturers, etc. looking to implement MpS) on how to procure and deploy managed print services, copiers, printers, document management solutions, managed services, and asset management systems. 

When I say "consult," I mean they(your prospects) entrusted me with the responsibility to generate a scope document, examine vendor proposals, participate in sales conferences, provide feedback on candidates, and oversee the implementation of the chosen solution. I was that unknown variable in your equation during your pitch - I am familiar with all the maneuvers and I'm the one who advised your customer to wait until the final rotation of the planet to give the go-ahead.

Here are direct transmissions I've received from my clients regarding copier Salespeople:
  • "I can't believe we endured a 15-holo presentation about the company. It could have been condensed into two."
  • "They did not listen."
  • "Salespeople. They talk too much. All he did was echo my questions - and his responses."
The unfavorable report is that what you perceive as pertinent in your approach may not be. But as EVERY sentient being in sales communicates the same way, the audience tolerates this behavior.

I've communicated this before, and I will do so again: there is a stark contrast between what you believe you are doing and how your customers perceive your actions.

However, all is not lost. As the universe returns to equilibrium and lifeforms adapt their methods, now is an opportune time to recalibrate your self-enhancement protocols.

Here are three suggestions:

  1. Enhance your skills beyond traditional sales training programs.
  2. Utilize the tools at your disposal.
  3. Engage in this for your benefit, not solely your employer's.
Buy books about general business. Access the intergalactic net, listen to podcasts, and consume content at your convenience. Expand your horizons with classic works like "Who Says Elephants Can't Warp," "Ferengi Rules of Acquisition," and "Think and Grow Prosperous."** Many a starbase commander and planetary leaders immerse themselves in these; it would be logical for you to follow suit.

Participate in discussion groups you usually wouldn't. You're likely aware — stepping out of your comfort zone, much like boldly going where no one has gone before, fosters growth.

For instance, join a group dedicated to Andorian knitting. How will understanding the subtle difference between a krelka and a pootza* stitch boost your sales? Simple. Engaging your curiosity in something new will sharpen your overall inquisitiveness, a characteristic shared by the most proficient sales personnel in the galaxy.

Use the tools.

Let's not shy away from this recurring theme. Get on Federation LinkedIn and start exploring. Observe the protocols of engagement – don't request a connection until after establishing some form of online rapport. Comment on a prospect’s posts, join the same groups, and contribute meaningful content for all members, not just your prospect.

Access a HubSpot terminal and enter prospect data. HubSpot is a great source of additional intel on accounts and prospects.

Establish alerts on your Starfleet Google console for your prospects, clients, industry issues, and technology concerns. Scan through these updates every morning, like a good cup of black coffee.

There are at least a hundred other tools across the subspace net – select a few, invest in your future and start integrating these tools into your routine. I'm not suggesting you launch a blog, generate parsecs of content and become an industry expert. Consume more than you create, for now. This is an internal voyage — a self-reawakening. We must shift our perspective from one of projection to one of introspection. Once we accomplish this, being receptive to honest and relevant customer-centric challenges becomes instinctual.

Do it for yourself, not your employer.

This is paramount. I have not only heard displeasure about salespeople from clients, but recruiters have echoed similar sentiments. Employers are on the lookout for well-rounded individuals, possessing sales savvy, common sense, and business acumen. Thus, any enhancement in your ability to discern challenges, remain present in your environment, and take positive action for your clients will elevate you above most applicants.

Engage in this personal growth for you. Rest assured, your current employer will appreciate the effort as your sales start to soar. Your future sales commander will benefit even more.

I have communicated about this critical subject for decades, and initially, it seemed absurd to mention "business acumen" in the copier domain – we didn't need such insight when each staff member was replicating 9,000 images per lunar cycle

The situation is different today. 

Showing a client how to activate the correct commands and sign on the digitized line may be part of the spectacle, but it certainly isn't the main storyline.

Strive to excel at self-improvement and initiate the actions we claimed we would, but never implemented.

Engage sales!

Original article on The Imaging Channel, The Great Divide in Copier Sales, here.

* "krelka" and "pootza" are not recognized terms related to any established knitting stitches or any known language, including that of the Andorian species from the Star Trek universe. Those terms were used metaphorically to suggest learning something entirely new and unrelated to sales as a means of nurturing curiosity.

** Made up titles for, Who Says Elephants Can't Dance, Guerilla Marketing & Think and Grow Rich. 

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