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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Acumen. Sort by date Show all posts

Friday, September 12, 2008

The New SalesPerson - Acumen


"New Selling" and its application to Copier Sales

I was reading a blog regarding selling and noticed some interesting information - from the post by Jonathan Farrington, The Sales Corporation:

"...various studies suggest that getting one salesperson in front of one customer now costs $1000 - this cost has trebled since 1983. As a consequence professional salespeople have to be more effective than ever to justify the investment in a face-to-face effort..."


"...Customer Focus Creates Competitive Advantage..."

  • The one-term that sets top performers apart - customer focus
  • Outstanding sales results depend on:
    - The ability to think from the customer’s point of view
    - Understanding the customer’s agenda, buying cycle, and best interests
  • Beyond a superficial reading of immediate customer needs, salespeople must gain a deeper understanding of both the buyer’s long-term goals and the overall business climate
  • At the heart of customer focus is the art of listening constructively - the best salespeople are masters at capturing information
  • Customer focus means taking the customer seriously - today the salesperson who clings to the product orientation of a decade ago is losing ground
  • As client companies branch into new markets and unfamiliar territories, they are demanding unique, flexible solutions from their vendors - customized to support specific goals
  • Another myth that can be exploded is that whilst customers value flexibility, being too flexible can undermine the sales relationship. On the whole, salespeople imagine that customers value a vendor’s responsiveness above all. However recent research shows that their primary concern is reliability.
In summary, in order to maintain customer focus, the best salespeople become facilitators, creating a partnership that extends the selling relationship within the customer’s company. The motivation to achieve this should be strong - it costs five times as much to attract and sell to a new customer as it does to an existing one!..."
I think of the changes happening right now in our industry, and how everyone has started to "talk the talk" about being a different type of technical, selling professional.

I have often mentioned the ability of successful salespeople to be Partners with clients, to constantly develop Business Acumen, and to learn to Empathize with customers.

So it is nice to read an affirmation of my thoughts - from somebody in sales, but completely outside of our industry:

  1. Partnership
  2. Business Acumen
  3. Empathy and Disconnect
Partnership -

The "Partnership" mentality is a mature set of beliefs anchored in "...To Do No Harm...".

You're are in front of the prospect to Help them - you must find where they need you and if they are willing to accept your help.

And as an example, if you are in there to "..Do No Harm.." why would you "gouge them" on pricing, why would you make them sign into a 60-month, "captive", on-sided agreement? Why would you twist your client into a solution which only addresses the surface issue of "price"?

A real Partner is never an Enabler

We don't need to watch Dr. Phil - if you are in a position comfortable enough to tell your client they are wrong, then you have the beginning of a partnership. If after you tell the client he/she is wrong, they take your advice, your partnership is built on solid ground.

Don't Enable Your Prospect to Make the Same Mistakes, over and over...

Business Acumen -

This is not product knowledge. This is not a feature and benefit argument. This is not easy. This will take time.

Business Acumen is ALL of the above and oh so much more.

In a nutshell, business acumen can be obtained through the observation and study of everything "around" your solution - That is, the study of the cause and effect of your position, proposals, and projects - over time.

This knowledge is uniquely yours.

Yours to take with you into every appointment and in every conversation.

Think about this: your view and your opinions based on the history of your "installs" and implementations and proposals - are yours alone. Not your companies, your clients, your manager, or your peers - all you.

If you have installed just ONE idea - the outcomes and ramifications of this one project, seen through your eyes, are an example for you to use in every single 'new' opportunity. And each new opportunity, not just installation, is a chance to learn more about business than from any book ever written.

Empathy and Disconnect -

These two words diametrically oppose - but the tight rope must be walked.

Empathy - Good salespeople can put themselves into their client's "shoes"; see things the way their client does. In order to do this effectively, one needs to become "one" with the prospects' business, his world, from his angle - and not through the prism of product or service. One needs to see the prospect's world without "commission" or quota issues hanging over one's head. And to do this effectively, the Selling Professional needs to become disconnected from the outcome of the sale...

Disconnect - Difficult, but not impossible. First off, what do I mean by disconnect?

Disconnect, in this sense, is the ability to cut away from your emotional connection to the success of the "sale".

More specifically, disconnection from the success of the sale, from the selling professional's view, is what I am talking about. But this is NOT being uncaring or aloof or unconcerned - a tightrope.

Perhaps disconnect is a strong word, maybe "compartmentalization" would be better.

Once the emotional factor is put aside, we can deal with the client in terms of what "makes sense" for both him and me, instead of trying to force a square peg into a round hole, at the end of the month.

In conclusion, common sense usually prevails and over-complication of simple rules typically dilutes the results. If you focus on these three issues:

  1. Partnership
  2. Business Acumen
  3. Empathy & Disconnect
You will be well on your way to success.

Click to email me.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Dawn of The New Selling Professional - MpS Leads The Way - Sales X.X

Not Sales 2.0 - Call it 
"Sales X.X"


“Business Acumen” is a cool way to say, “been there, done that…got three years' financials to prove it” – I admit, it is a big word, does it scare you?

From Merriam-Webster:

Acumen: keenness and depth of perception, discernment, or discrimination especially in practical matters.

Practical Matters.

Lots of salespeople don’t think they have acumen, or that there is some special process that goes with acquiring the skill of discernment. Worse, some employers don’t believe their employees possess keenness – more than a few sales managers feel their salespeople lack depth of perception.

You know I’m right. You’ve seen it, I’ve seen it, we’ve all been there.

What to do?

Stand back, there is something going on here, something new; The New Age of Selling. It has nothing to do with the Mayan calendar although "The New Age" calls upon the collective selling skills of the past 25,000 years.

Woah, heavy.

I know it’s difficult to see, but the current economic “Charlie Foxtrot” will someday be in our rear view mirror. When the recovery does start, for real, the new selling professional will lead the way. I believe that our industry, our sales people, in the trenches, will be examples of success, role models.

The New Way demands more from you, the Selling Professional:
  1. Expertise – be an expert in something, anything
  2. Collaboration – be open to working with everyone, yesterday’s rivals could be today’s partner
  3. Engagement/Intent  – work with your clients, partners, peers at a deeper level, with High Intent
  4. Growth – thrive on change, bring change, be the agent for change
The New Way also exists in a new environment, a business context that has never existed:
  1. Information is everywhere Content and data are universal and will permeate
  2. Power is shifting down – from the OEMs to the cube farms, personal power is increasing
  3. Technology is mundane – your refrigerator will talk with your toaster
  4. “Citizen Mobil” – brick and mortar is dead. Smartphones, tablets, wireless and G4 networks, you, your clients, and clients’ family and kids are processing business everywhere. Think Cold Calls from the beach.
Eight simple observations.

Still, you will need to know Strategic Selling, VITO, closing techniques, prospecting, how to marshal resources on your team, monitor your funnel, and manage your manager. You still can’t be afraid to pick up the phone.

You must correctly present and follow up – to build trust. This may be new, but you still need to handle your shit. The basics – I won’t say ‘blocking and tackling’ – I loathe clichés, but I just did, didn’t I?

The times are different and personal acumen is more relevant, you are much more relevant, and in context.

One more thing:  There are No Academic Experts.  We're making this up as we go - and because this is all new, dynamic, and changing every 30 days, formal, teaching experts are simply rehashing history - not projecting

The New Selling, not Sales 2.0 or 3.1, let’s call it, Sales X dot XX - “Sales X.Xx"

Acumen, again. MpS Purity, again. Intent, again.

Just ideas on a screen - but ideas are bulletproof...

Sell on.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Turn Knowledge into Wisdom, Close More Deals

Business Acumen for Sales - The Course Work

For decades, at least since the 70's, sales reps have been posing their products as "solutions to problems".  From Wiki:
"Frank Watts developed the sales process dubbed "solution selling" in 1975. Watts perfected his method at Wang Laboratories. He began teaching solution selling as an independent consultant in 1982."

This was big through the '80s, 90's and still stands today.  Yet, "Solution sales" has become little more than a slogan.  Closer to the truth, "Solution Sales: As long as the solution is my product or services." 

Don't get me wrong, solution selling was a great advancement in the field of B2B sales.  Solution selling is foundational in professional selling.  Billions of dollars have traded hands based on this approach.  Anything I promote rests on the shoulders of people greater than I.

Evolution happens.  I believe an enhancement to solution selling is Business Acumen Selling. (BAS)

BAS is not about working leads through the selling cycle, understanding your leasing strategies, building good cases and presentations.  It does not refer to a salesperson's ability to demonstrate a device or piece of software nor does BAS have anything to do with how well you update the CRM or forecast the next 90 days.

Business Acumen for Selling is: 

  1. Understanding - Recognizing the business model your prospects work within, understanding if you have and exactly where your place in their model resides, and the impact of your presence.  
  2. Comparative Analysis - Consistently acquiring knowledge, building acumen across commercial industries, vertical markets, and niches, and utilizing that knowledge.
  3. Deep Conversations - Conveying your understanding of the existing environment and articulating your value within their ecosystem.

Most seasoned professionals have a sense of BAS honed through years of fieldwork and thousands of appointments.   My goal is to formalize and shorten the timeline required to learn and apply BAS; especially for the new sales representative.

Our courses are designed to give selling professionals the tools necessary to gain knowledge, distill knowledge into acumen and articulate both an understanding of prospects' environment and the impact of adding the sales reps offering into the client's business model.

Monday, February 26, 2018

A Decade of #TheDeathofTheCopier: Really?

Long ago, a decade seemed like forever; "1999" was a far-off party, and 2001 was so distant, that it was science fiction.

When I was young, I couldn't imagine where'd I be beyond 2008.  Today, decades fade away, "like tears in the rain..."

Ten revolutions around the Sun
120 Months
521.4 Weeks
3,650 Days
87,000 Hours

At its peak, The Death of the Copier was coveted; worth stealing. Not for the plain talk, but for the audience.

In 2008, we were busy back-slapping and congratulating ourselves for selling machines like popcorn.  The future was bright; it was never going to end.
  • Ikon was a huge channel of 'independent' dealers.
  • Xerox was like Kleenex.
  • Ricoh and Canon punched it out for the second and third position.
  • HP was on the edge with Edgeline.
  • The rest of the pack was just that, a pack.
Back then, few were 'blogging' about copiers. Out here on the inter-webs, nobody was talking about workflow, managed print services, IT, or business acumen.  Newsletters, magazines, and trade shows were the vehicles of delivery.

On this 10th year anniversary, I've traveled back to the future, re-visiting stories of the love, toner, blood, and tragedy that is DOTC.

I've dug up a few nuggets:

From a DOTC post, "Top 12 of 2008":

"5. LinkedIn - MySpace is all grown up. Much more mature than Facebook with real contacts and real business and NO high school moms pretending to be CEOs...well, maybe. Quite by chance, I fell into LinkedIn. Early, I joined MySpace, Facebook, Plaxo, etc. - but LinkedIn, for some reason has held my attention and gets most of my input when it comes to "social networking"."-  2008.

I talked about Managed Print Services, how copier reps won't naturally progress into the niche, how real MpS requires IT and copier knowledge, and something called Business Acumen.  It was like speaking Latin.

The second post, February 2008: Managed Print Services - That "Hot, New, Thing..."

"A copier salesperson does not directly translate into an MPS specialist.

Nor does an IT Services salesperson translate into an MPS Specialist. It takes both IT experience and copier experience and a great deal of general, C-level, business experience. 

That holy grail of Professional Selling, "Business Acumen". Someone with the "Big Picture" insight and manage the details of a solution."

Honestly, the more things change, the more they stay the same. It's been ten years and we're still struggling to find managed print nirvana.

We still sell copiers.

 How about this one from 2011?  Inspired by the movie Jerry McGuire -

"MPS isn't the end-all, it isn't the only reason to exist - it never has been. Still, with everybody getting in and as many as 50% failing, what now?

With all the OEMs defining MPS ... and reclassifying direct accounts, how can we continue?

Touch More.

More Human Touch. Less PowerPoint. No WebEx meetings, toss the 50 slide business summaries. Instead, press the flesh. Draw on a napkin.

Do that thing we do as sales professionals, look him in the eye and say "thank you, what more can we do, today?"

"Oddest, most unexpected thing..."

Success and change aren't always a result of design. Innovation encroaches from another direction; from the left as we look right, from behind as we look ahead.  Few ever see it coming.

So it is today. As some deny the paperless revolution is near, companies like Alaska Air outfit their 1,400 pilots with iPads.  Apple is making the textbook obsolete and banks accept pictures of checks for deposits. Your kids, don't call each other anymore, they use their thumbs.

From social media to MpS, everything is new and unpredicted - there are no experts - the world moves faster than ever before. No benchmarks, no 'metrics', no comparison, no rules.

Waiting for the revolution? It's already here.

"The Me I always wanted to be" - Trust

Trust. It is a big word and one of the first MPS Conference keynote speaker attempted to rally behind stating, 
"..Trust is something this industry has got to reclaim."

He is new. He doesn't understand to reclaim something, one must have first possessed it.

"I had lost the ability to bullshit, ..."

Our journey continues.

The path is less bumpy when we build partnerships. Partnerships are easier to forge over a foundation of truth. Can you be true?

Can you lose the ability to bullshit? If not to your prospects, at least with yourself. Or are you just another shark in a suit?

Can you see the entire ecosystem?

How about instead of optimizing a smidgen of hardware and some toner, you envision Optimizing Everything?

That's right, everything. Managed Optimization Services.

"That's how you become great, man. Hang your balls out there."

Good Stuff.

What have WE, learned over the past ten years?
  1. The Copier is nearly gone
  2. Old ways die-hard
  3. Situations rarely change, people do
My nostalgic jaunt inspired me to seek out memories from the pioneers of the copier-industry social media world.

Before Twitter.  Before Instaglam. Before LI took off...there was Ken Stewart, Nathan Dube, Jim Lyons, and Art Post.

I asked them for a tidbit of reflection:

From Ken Stewart -

Wow, it's been that long?!?  What I've learned:
  1. Trust God more
  2. Forgive mankind often
  3. Relish the little things
  4. Let people be accountable for their actions
  5. Just because the folks in the hot tub look like they're having a blast, their secrets are hiding under the bubbles!
Nathan Dube -

Things I have learned:
  1. Don’t trust the hype
  2. Disruptive technologies sometimes aren’t and those that are, often take time to produce real change
  3. If the paperless office is coming, I am not seeing it much/at all in New England across most verticals
  4. Storytelling is the best way to market
  5. Everybody hates their printer eventually
  6. The future of marketing IMO lies in gamification and interactive content that is more about entertainment than the product you are trying to sell.
Jim Lyons -

Can't remember EXACTLY how Greg and I became friends, but as what seemed like the only two bloggers in the industry back then it was inevitable we'd become friends as well as colleagues. 

A particular fond memory is when Greg had accepted an invitation to the Lyra Conference (Symposium) - where I'd gone from client to contributor. 

Greg and I had been in touch quite a bit but had never met face-to-face and several of the team (including Photizo folks in attendance, though this was before the merger) were excited to meet Mr. Death of the Copier. As we anticipated his arrival I remember enthusing that this was a very much-needed "young guy" we were welcomed into the fold!!!

Art Post

Nothing stays the same, change is constant.
There is nothing new in sales even though there are thousands of sales gurus on LinkedIn promoting their success when they haven't sold shit in years.

There are many stubborn copier manufacturers that refuse to exit the channel. No one copies anymore.

I've learned that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end of the roll, the faster it goes.

Thanks, guys, for reading DOTC and staying true.

  1. 2008, I was married and living in the mountains of Southern California.  5,000 feet above sea level, an hour from the beach - "...things that have comforted me, I drive away..."
  2. Since 2008, I've moved from SoCali to Charlotte to Oconomowoc, Wisconsin - "...this place that is my home, I cannot stay..."
  3. Over 10 years, I've seen small businesses grow and flourish.  I've met the best of the best and the worst of the worst - "...I come and stand at every door..."
  4. I've Failed - "...If you've ever seen a one-legged dog then you've seen me..."
  5. I've Succeeded - "...I always leave with less than I had before..."
  6. I've become an expert at Starting Over - "...tell me, can you ask for anything more..."
Over the long haul, I've seen the extinction of the typewriter, witnessed the evaporation of the mini and mainframe, and bobbed along the turbulent manual-to-PC-to-network-to-internet-to-cloud waters.

I am fortunate to have a place to express myself.  I'm blessed to be able to write what I would read and humbled others to find something, interesting and possibly entertaining.

10 Years. How about you?

On what field did you stand?  Today, do you still stand?  

Where will you be in 2028?

Two, three, four

Have you ever seen a one trick pony in the field so happy and free?
If you've ever seen a one trick pony then you've seen me
Have you ever seen a one-legged dog making his way down the street?
If you've ever seen a one-legged dog then you've seen me
Then you've seen me, I come and stand at every door

Then you've seen me, I always leave with less than I had before
Then you've seen me, bet I can make you smile when the blood, it hits the floor
Tell me, friend, can you ask for anything more?
Tell me can you ask for anything more?

Have you ever seen a scarecrow filled with nothing but dust and wheat?
If you've ever seen that scarecrow then you've seen me
Have you ever seen a one-armed man punching at nothing but the breeze?
If you've ever seen a one-armed man then you've seen me

Then you've seen me, I come and stand at every door
Then you've seen me, I always leave with less than I had before
Then you've seen me, bet I can make you smile when the blood, it hits the floor
Tell me, friend, can you ask for anything more?
Tell me can you ask for anything more?

These things that have comforted me, I drive away
This place that is my home I cannot stay
My only faith's in the broken bones and bruises I display
Have you ever seen a one-legged man trying to dance his way free?
If you've ever seen a one-legged man then you've seen me

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Who Helps You Reduce Costs? Copier sales people, managed IT folks, or Advisors?

Who will give you a leg up?

"You will never print another document ever again.”

I know you still have printers and copiers. But I know you’re not printing or copying like you had three years ago. If you’ve made business process optimization an initiative, then you know what I mean. I’ve also found that companies with no ‘green’ or digitization plan, have naturally reduced print. Some telling me, ‘we just don’t print anymore’. I also know players like Xerox, Ricoh, and Lexmark are experiencing great consolidation, and paper plants have shuttered across country. Indeed, from the WSJ, 1/2018-

"One of Xerox’s problems is that it has been broken into two pieces. A year ago, Conduent Inc. (NYSE: CNDT) was spun out. It describes itself as a “business process services” company, which makes it more of a consultancy than a seller of hardware. Xerox retained the hardware business, which sells products that may have been useful to businesses a decade ago but are no longer.”

Customers around the world, are organically reducing devices, copies and prints needed to conduct business- this has been going on for years. For companies like Xerox and Ricoh, whose primary revenue stream is generated with each sheet of marked paper, this is a formidable challenge. And like every shrinking industry before it, the copier niche is not going quietly into the night. For those of you left looking for a copier, it might the best time to work your provider for better pricing - just wait until the 25th of the month - everyone is scrambling and competing for a slice of a shrinking pie.

In the face of this turbulence, photocopier manufacturers and independent dealers are responding in one of three ways -

1. Selling themselves as a "document consultant” and trusted advisor, promising to help you manage your decreased reliance on print.
2. Selling to a larger dealer or manufacturer in an effort to cash out and retire.
3. Shifting away from copiers and printers to markets like IT services, water or energy management.

As you explore new ways to eliminate cost, you may fall within one of these stages:

1. You’ve implemented cost reduction program successfully and want to expand
2. You’ve implemented a failed program
3. You have no visibility into total costs

In each case, starting a study, correcting a misaligned program or continuing to reduce costs, you have three sources of partners:

1. IT providers(including your internal IT)- primarily supporting IT infrastructure
2. Copier/Print supplier & MpS Providers - hardware and software vendor within the copier/printer industry either through direct or indirect channels
3. Professional IT advisors - organizations who derive revenue through sharing subject matter expertise and managing change

No matter who you choose to partner, you should consider three important aspects of each:

* Agenda vs. intent
* Knowledge vs. Wisdom
* Neutrality vs. Bias

Let’s take a look at each:

IT Provider -

Agenda: To support organizational technology infrastructure
Intent: To transform with as little negative impact to end user environment

Knowledge: Deep ‘specification’ knowledge.
Wisdom: Experience and a varied history of supporting IT infrastructure in different types of organizations may give rise to wisdom or business acumen, but this is rare.

Neutrality: Not very. Comfortable with manufacturers they have a history with; CISCO, IBM, DELL and HP, etc.
Bias: To what’s been proven in the past or passes a proof-of-concept.

Copier/Printer supplier -

Agenda: to move opportunities to a close and their intent is to sell more devices/clicks.
Intent: Transform with as little negative impact to end user environment.

Knowledge: Deep ‘specification/machine’ knowledge. May posses basic scanning and onboard application knowledge.
Wisdom: Very little business acumen. Fresh sales professionals lack experience in varied customer, business models. Seasoned profess

Neutrality: Claimed yet impossible, therefore a lie.
Bias: Toward a solution that include's hardware sold.

Professional Advisor -

Agenda: Help client achieve business goals.
Intent: Establish an ongoing relationship.

Knowledge: Business acumen and technical prowess beyond the scope of the project.
Wisdom: Experience over time with many environments and business models.

Neutrality: Completely neutral and open to continuous evaluation of new solutions.
Bias: Toward a solution that supports the client business goals.

Conclusion -

Economic pressures on providers of equipment is severe. Machines are becoming more self-sufficient and easier to manage remotely, business requirements are changing from paper flow to digital flow. Even if your printing less than 500 images a week, you are a prime prospect for the remaining copier vendors - your company is guaranteed to be on some copier rep’s cold call list. There is no shortage of cost reducing value propositions, white papers and marketing material.

Continuously reducing costs associated with output is an internal function - asking teams of folks motivated to sell more devices to help you reduce the number of devices is counter intuitive - a provider with show rooms full of equipment pitching themselves as an “agnostic, trusted advisor” is disingenuous.

So who do you turn to? There are a thousand copier dealerships, hundreds of MSP’s and maybe a dozen proven, reliable and seasoned advisors. Of course, if you can find a good advisor, with an open calendar, I recommend engaging - but the odds are forever in the copier companies favor - it is simply math.

Here’s a quick recommendation:

If you currently support 1-20 devices, copier dealer and MSP
If you currently support 50-100 devices, MSP with Advisor
If you currently support over 100 devices, exclusively work with an Advisor who manages an optimized portfolio of suppliers and software providers.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Business Acumen - Another Contribution from Leopard David Ramos. "The World of Selling"

By Dave Ramos

I was listening to this consultant/trainer speak at a national show this past week and he made the statement “The world of selling hasn’t changed much in recent years.” Then he continued to dole out the same old tired advice, instructions, and stupid clichés that were taught decades ago…at least the guy is consistent (see, I always spin it in the positive).

The only problem with his philosophy is that those teachings are the reasons, that today, so many salespeople more than ever are struggling to survive.

Here is what I know. The world of business, in general, has changed DRAMATICALLY. Yet for whatever reason, one area of business that has been remarkably stagnant and continues to fiercely resist change is sales.

Make 2011 about your personal development in your sales profession. Leave the stale, crusty, techniques of the past behind. Focus on effective techniques and self-education that will truly have an impact on your career. Focus on building and expanding your business network. If the CIO is your target in the MS or MPS world, then you should understand the network CIOs live in and connect wherever you can.

  1. CIO’s team – cultivate relationships inside the circle. Learn who their staff is and learn to leverage contacts one level removed.
  2. CIO’s peers – they are trusted more than any other source of information. References and referrals count. Learn how to ask for them and leverage them.
  3. Also other relationships they might have with trusted supplier partners, consultants, etc...

Next, learn to do some research people. Did you know the #2 annoyance of technology buyers is reps showing up unprepared for meetings? Un-freaking-believable!!! You mean to tell me we go through all this effort to get a meeting then show up unprepared?! Here is a basic checklist that I use to test sales reps on their accounts prior to them engaging a prospect or client on an appointment.

  1. Who is the account’s CEO, president or owner? Who are the key contacts by department?
  2. What is the company’s highest priority goal or objective?
  3. What is their mission/ vision/core values?
  4. What is their key product or service?
  5. Who is their toughest competitor?
  6. What is the biggest problem they face in their industry?
  7. Is there pending legislation that will affect their industry?
  8. What is their greatest strength?
  9. What is their strategy: a) Low-Cost b) Differentiation c) Niche Player?
  10. Who is their largest customer?

Lastly, develop some business acumen. Business acumen can be described as an understanding of how a business works and what it takes to make it profitable. It is about comprehending topics such as amortization, assets, balance sheets, book value, cash flow, fixed assets, liquidity, margin and return on assets, to name just a few.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Reading business publications and watch specific business channels can provide current information about business trends, markets, or economic factors affecting various businesses and industries.
  2. Join a professional networking organization (there it is again, networking, sorry cold call lovers!) and association dedicated to sharing business information with their members can offer networking events, conferences, and seminars.
  3. Attending evening or weekend courses focusing on business topics can build one’s knowledge on matters such as understanding financial statements and P&L (Profit & Loss), cash generation, or revenue growth.
  4. Finding a mentor with a strong business understanding is a great way to learn how businesses operate. The mentor can be a co-worker, a former boss, or someone who is a member of the same professional association that you joined to do NETWORKING.

In today’s fast-moving world, we may face some of the same challenges, but the answers are constantly changing. If you do not continue your learning curve and have an open mind to alternative ideas and approaches, you will be left behind. Those who continually adapt are better at getting ahead, while those who insist on clinging to their old, “right” answers will become obsolete.

About the author: David Ramos is a sales operations consultant for Strategy Development, an industry management consulting and advance sales training firm providing sales, sales management, service & MPS information.  He also instructs a selling skills workshop called “Sell With Success”. You can reach him at

Click to email me. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

#SalesDifferentiation: What Makes You, You?

Another theme in the recent "sales revolution" is "differentiation".

I remember back in the olden days of sales, whenever a trainer would ask a new sales rep, "What makes your company different from your competitors?" undoubtably, the newbie would spit out, "My company has me as your sales person.  The biggest difference between my company and my competitors is Me!"

Back then, this response was a major Fail.

Irony -

Today, building your personal brand is more important than building your employer's brand.  Today, when you become an "expert in your field" YOU add value to your employer.

So, if every other sales rep become more authentic, more serving, and less speeds and feeds oriented, one day, everyone will still be saying the same thing in the same manner.

For the ultimate diversification, I go back to acquiring Business Acumen.  Acumen cannot be commoditized - your specific history, the path you've traveled while acquiring knowledge is yours and yours alone.

Do this:

  1. Learn from all your prospects
  2. Read general business books
  3. Study impact of technology on your dealership
If you haven't started acquiring knowledge, get to it,  today.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

013: "MpS in a Box", "Managed Services in a Box" and other Silly Things Marketing Comes up With

We can call this out, because we've been part of the movement.

I saw another services-in-a-box marketing statement the other day.  They were advertising a webinar about something or other - managed services in a box.

It struck me, weren't we just complaining about the commoditization of MpS?  Wasn't it a couple of years ago, when we started to see "MPS in a Box" offerings? And once we put ourselves in a box, are we not off to see our maker or worse, a commodity?

Why do we do this ?

Like you, we've been spoon fed the " a box..." value proposition time and time again.

From the word "solution" to the phrase "Professional Services", unique approaches to unique problems do not easily translate into predictable ROI.  So they box, barcode and ship creating commission gates forcing us to attach the latest software sku to our boxes in order to collect the pittance.

Think I'm wrong?  How many faxservers, DocSends or ECopy did you sell?  Without a copier?

Here's the deal - we in the field do not place our expertise in a box.  We are unique as individuals and when we discuss opportunities with clients, our uniqueness shines through.

The only people who want to place expertise and acumen in a box are those who manufacture the box.  What are they making in those plants, anyway?

  • Are they assembling business solutions? No.
  • Are they putting together answers to complex business problems? Not really.
  • Are the container ships unloading Workflow or Process Optimization? Nope.
  • How about Business Acumen?  Oh heck no.
What leaves their shores and hits our docks is a box - glass, plastic and tin - that's all.  As long as the factories kick out machines, machine based quotas will continue down stream into the trenches - from the manufacturer, to the branch/dealer, to the sales manager, down to you my good friend.  Scrub your MIF, churn n burn, and call it ALL managed services in a box.

"On the first of the month we sell solutions, after the 15th, we sell boxes..."- Ikon, 2005ish.

Remember when "think outside of the box" was the mantra of the day?  What fools we were back then, buying into the whole think differently mind set which was only true as long as our different thinking on the 1st of the month brought in more boxes by the 28th.  Fact is, back then, we could of attached George Forman grills to our copiers and people would have signed 68 month leases anyway.

It just didn't matter.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Business Acumen - Good Lord, they're teaching Professional Selling in Universities now...we're all doomed.


"...we learned more from a three minute record, then we ever learned in school..."

- No Retreat, No Surrender. - Bruce.

You love training classes, don't you? Certifications, tests, demo contests - teachings and ramblings from those "more learned" than we.

Tweed jacket, pipe smoking, know-nothings, droning on and on about "TCO", lease ex-dates, and scan-once, print many.


Very little practical, field tested, tools.

Professional Selling demands more.

In order to be ready, to truly own our destiny, we need to improve on our own.

We cannot rely on corporate sponsored, consultant based teachings.  Status quo dogma packaged as training "...designed to help you succeed..."

The only person you can rely on or trust to be looking out for your success is the one staring back at you in the mirror.

Nobody else.

I spoke with a student at Cal Poly - International Business Marketing major - he told me he is attending a  "Professional Selling" class.(IBM 306).

My curiosity piqued, "Oh, really?  We're now teaching kids how to sell? Impressive..."

The professor doesn't use a textbook, simply pontificating in front of the white board.  Exam questions are based on lecture material.

The tests are take home.  At this point I'm thinking, "how the hell does one get THAT gig?"

Course descriptions:

IBM 306 Professional Selling (4)
Focus on professional selling within the context of relationship marketing. Emphasis on precision selling process. Team presentations. 4 lecture/problem solving.
Prerequisite: IBM 301.

IBM 435 Advanced Professional Selling (4)
Analysis of the sales representative as a professional marketing tactician in a marketoriented
firm. Emphasis on applied and theoretical approaches utilized to effectively manage a sales territory. Analysis of sales representatives in different industries. 4 lectures/ problem solving.
Prerequisite: IBM 306.

Perhaps I am showing my age - by the way, it isn't the age, its the mileage - but since when did college's and Universities quantify the art of selling?

More important, what can all this mean to you?

Our higher education system is now churning out kids who fancy themselves Selling Professionals,  thinking they know as much as you and I.

This in itself is not terrible, a rising tide lifts all ships, but consider this next time you're sitting in a sponsored, "MPS is TCO" seminar: while your there pretending to stay awake, there is a young buck out there learning how to sell "within the context of relationship marketing" - whatever the hell that is...

Your next competitor may have grown up not with email, but texting.

He will not expect to stay at the same company for decades.  He will know how to Google faster than you.

He will demand more from his boss.

Yeah - I know, you ain't scared. You shouldn't be.

Sales is the ultimate school of hard knocks.

You can't get acumen, from an overpriced textbook, or take home quiz.  And self-esteem is not the result of some 12 step program.

Sell on.

Click to email me.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Business Acumen and Professional Selling

Here it is. 

After years of talking about it, we now have the opportunity to do what we said we would be never did...

"Business Acumen and Professional Selling", I believe is the next stage in sales - inside and outside of the imaging niche. 

Customers and prospects demand and deserve more. They want more than data, knowledge, experience, and wisdom. Join us for a riveting conversation around this subject and start your journey.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

#SolutionSelling is Dead

“Business acumen” (BA) selling is what your prospects want today.

You’ve heard them all:

“Tell a story.”
“Use LinkedIn.”
“Sell the sizzle.”
“Sell our solutions.”
“Cold calling works.”
“It’s a numbers game.”
“Put that coffee down.”
“Email follow-up works.”
“Sell on social networks.”
“Research your prospects.”
“Reach the decision maker.”
“Present like a professional.”
“Increase your efforts by 10.”
“Become the trusted advisor.”
“Develop your personal brand.”
“Learn how to demo your devices.”
“Enhance the customer experience.”
“Probe for weaknesses, confirm, trial close, handle objections and present our solution.”

It’s all standard sales jargon — beware the cliché.

As a new copier rep, you’ll be forced to endure hours of being taught every selling technique ever created. You may find them new, but these schemes are timeless; repeated through the eons. And that is the problem. These standards are not nostalgic or even proven — they are old-fashioned. Prospects today learn product details without attending manufacturer-sponsored classes. The basic elements of a sale remain the same: We exchange value for the value given. This will never change. What has transformed is the volume of relevant information available to your prospects.

Sure, to be successful you’ve got to understand your product. But viewing your clients’ businesses holistically and effectively communicating your real-world understanding of them is the way forward. The future is business acumen selling.

This is a high-end concept, and it becomes more relevant every day. As prospects gain knowledge, the typical salesperson degrades in value.

So don’t be typical.

Knowing good business practices, basic operational procedures and... read the rest here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Why Are Copier Dealers Demanding Staff Return to the Office?

June 2020

The past few months, paid ‘experts’ yelled “change or die”.  It’s been a broken record for decades.  In the end, no matter how loud and often these pundits shout, “You are not changing!”, you HAVE changed – you ARE changed.  It is inevitable – everyone and everything transforms. 

Instructing us to change is nostalgic.


Today, in the turbulence that is Covid19 are the ways of 2019 still viable? Your customers have changed.  They now wish for fewer face to face meetings, prefer working with an existing relationship, and no longer consider “remote” a dirty word.  Many companies are moving to a remote working relationship with employees.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Managed Print Services - That "Hot, New, Thing..."


It seems over the past sixty days, we have been approached by all sorts of "consultants" willing to teach our team (SIGMAnet -MPS) how to perform a detailed Managed Print Service study.

It seems everybody wants to get on this bandwagon, the "I use to sell copiers, but now I sell this service to help you save more money - as long as we are at the beginning of the month..." bandwagon.

Okidata, Lexmark, Konica Minolta, Xerox, Toshiba, Ricoh, can you see the pattern, trend, and characteristics of this new wave? These folks are all Copier Companies. So the problem with obtaining a true, honest, real-world Managed Print Services program is something I like to call "Hardware Agnostic and Partnering with High Intent". 

It is true that HP is the leader when it comes to getting "marks on paper", but how many companies have 100% HP devices - for printing and copying? Or all Okidata, Lexmark, or Toshiba? You can see my point.

With companies searching out every way to cut costs, printing and the reduction of costs associated with printing is becoming sexy and attracting all sorts of "flim-flam" and "snake-oil" experts. Managed Print Services isn't Brain Surgery, it's Rocket Science!

A copier salesperson does not directly translate into an MPS specialist. 

Nor does an IT Services salesperson translate into an MPS Specialist. It takes both IT experience and copier experience and a great deal of general, C-level, business experience. That holy grail of Professional Selling, "Business Acumen".  Someone with the "Big Picture" insight and manage the details of a solution.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Former IBM Executive Michael Maupin to Join the Advisory Board of The Water Training Institute

Press Release:

Philadelphia, PA, May 16, 2009 --( Former IBM Business Unit Executive Michael Maupin has joined the Advisory Board of The Water Training Institute (a division of Water, a New Jersey-based consulting & services firm).

Maupin, who is the Managing Director of the business development firm MBI and author of the book "The Billion Dollar Deal" (11/09 Oxford Hill Press), has also joined the sales training staff and will be delivering segments of The Water Training Institute’s Certified Managed Print Services Seller (TM) Sales Training & Certification Program beginning in September.

“Michael Maupin brings more than 15-years of exceptional sales performance, unsurpassed big-league sales management experience, and overall sales know-how to Water’s already-outstanding sales training team” says Bobby Smith, a Principal at Water Canada. “His sales credibility and credentials strengthen that of The Water Training Institute and supports our goal to provide absolute top-notch professionals delivering the best experience to our clients. And besides, anyone who has achieved 11 (eleven) consecutive 100% Clubs and 3 Golden Circles at IBM, as Maupin has, is a proven, exceptional sales performer.”

Smith and Maupin became acquainted back in 2004 when Smith was a consultant at HP and Maupin joined Water to deliver a Consultative Sales Training program to the entire Hewlett-Packard U.S. Imaging & Printing Group sales force. But Maupin’s association with Water goes back even further. “When I started at IBM in the late ‘80s,” says Maupin, “the foundation of our sales training was based on the techniques offered by The Water Training Institute. Later, when IBM eliminated its internal training, I personally relied on Water for the training needs of all of my new hires. Now, I’m excited to work with this fine organization.”

The Water Training Institute’s Certified Managed Print Services Seller (TM) program begins September 16-18 in Philadelphia, PA. The purpose of the program is to provide sales professionals with a thorough understanding of Managed Print Services (MPS), comprehensive MPS sales training, a tailored MPS sales acumen evaluation & development plan for each participant, and a Certification Exam that – combined with the other aspects of the program - would substantiate that the successful candidate has demonstrated a certain standard of MPS sales performance and comprehension. More information can be found at

“As a former sales rep, sales manager, sales executive, and the current Managing Director of a firm that helps companies close deals, I know the importance of being able to consultatively sell service-based solutions in today’s market” says Maupin. “It is my opinion that – if companies are serious about preparing their sales associates to sell Managed Print Services effectively – they should strongly consider the Certified Managed Print Services Seller (TM) program as the vehicle to help them get there.”


Monday, August 8, 2022

Higher Ed Is Out of Touch

"Five Skills College Students Will Need for Their Future Careers" - WSJ. #Paywall: but come on!  

New classes in AI ethics, climate-friendly design and how to be an entrepreneur in the metaverse are coming to campus

No Way is higher education future-ready by promoting TOPICAL curriculum.  By the time the TA gets a syllabus together, it is obsolete.

Arm your students by teaching them the basics. Teach them HOW TO LEARN real world, on the street, business acumen, instead of empty course work designed to increase tuition, and sell professor's books.

Maybe the fall semester should include, "How to deal with a Recession.", "How to lay off employees during an economic downturn." or "Keeping the Social and Business Issues Separate."

But what do I know...

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The #LastCopierSold

Everything dies, baby that's a fact, but just because something doesn't last forever, doesn't mean it wasn't perfect.  Proclaimed back in 2011, the fading of managed print services continues.  Don't believe me?  

Ask your customers/prospects and you'll hear the truth. Whispers from the Abyss:

  • "We've really cut back on the number of printers and copiers we use."
  • "We don't print as much."
  • "We once had a copier on every floor and printers at each desk.  We don't anymore."
I could go on - hell, if you're in the field and honest, YOU can add to the above list.

So here it is - what follows is a list of industry influencers and players with reflections and status according to DOTC.

The year is 2017; just about 10 years after managed print services arrived on the scene. Much has changed.

The Last Battlestar - The Industry

The final battle has been played out - in the blink of an eye, we're looking at a new world, fresh opportunities, starting from scratch.

The 'fading X' is shuffling business into the channel, Lexmark assimilated, Ricoh jettisoning crew members while HP becomes half the company she once was.

The dealer channel continues to shutter and meld - like mother blue, the number of dealers is half what they use to be.

"There Must Be Some Kind of Way Out of Here"

Gods - we had plenty.

In the old days, our industry supported a plethora of expensive educators matriculating the ways of the copier sale.  Burying the buy-out, backloading usage, and avoiding escalation/auto-renewal discussion. We counted empty boxes as inventory and slid copiers into warehouses next door.

Oh yeah, that happened.

Visionaries have come and gone leaving the old guard frustrated, tired, and full of disbelief - how could so many ignore so much?

But we go on.

A new generation of office equipment professionals keeps entering the fray.  Fresh graduates from around the world are easily recruited with medium size salaries, double-digit commission rates, and cars.

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, some of these new recruits don't realize they'll be selling copiers until the third day of company orientation; so thick is our marketing babel.

Be that is it may - the new generation is one of Hope.

Our industry is going through the final stage of evolution, shedding old ideas and superstitions.  This 'last jump' is going to be a doozie - it will be sudden, catastrophic, and unclear.  The ship is old, she's made her last jump ending a million light-years away.

The best part? You are Galactica, we are Galactica. It matters not that the industry dives into the Sun. You make the difference, you carry on when the OEMs and dealers collide.  You move forward as volumes drop.

You can start over.

The Last Star Fighter - Xerox
Old fashioned and artificial, the X is just that - fading.  She tried to spread beyond the frontier, but surrendered to her fate: a copier company does not an information technology (IT) company, make.

Tough lesson.

Global Imaging, a Xerox company, continues to collect logos.

It will not make a difference.  The GunStar is fighting her last battle without the benefit of "Death blossom".  Expect a smaller footprint from X.

The Last Enterprise - HP
The Enterprise never dies.

So it is with HP(Mother Blue).

Her metamorphosis is timeless, eternal.  Of course, each new skin is just that - shinny on the outside, same uniforms on the inside.

Lens flare, red shirts, chain of command, and the Prime Directive - HP personified.

The assimilation of Samsung enhances and intensifies Starfleet's resolve and sets the table for an HP decade.  New devices, utilizing ink instead of toner, serviced directly with Instant-Ink and MPS vans is the model of the future.  The printer calls for service, and supplies and even orders its replacement.

No copier salespeople. No Dealers. No third-party toner.

The Last Jedi - Copier Salespeople
Talk about timeless, the copier salesperson ruled the galaxy, supporting countless families for decades.

But the Jedi were emasculated, scattered, and forgotten - relegated to legend and myth.

Today's Jedi are taught the ways of the past - 30-day cycles, revenue-based compensation, separate A4 and A3, burying equipment into the service agreement, flipping the MIF,  and paper will always be relevant.

There is Hope, but it isn't in the print Galaxy.  Sales skills are both learned and transferable - today you're selling copiers to churches, and next month you could be selling HVAC systems.

Today, you're presenting managed print services, next month you're talking about cost reduction through Energy Control Services.

The Last Samurai - Dealers
The road to MpS nirvana, which ended up being nothing more than perdition, is littered with burned-out managed print services salespeople, specialists, managers, and directors.

Even today, the adulterated definition permeates: how can you claim a managed print services focus yet refer to MpS as "the little machines" and separate A3 from A4?   Get off your dinosaur.

Both the bane and savior of the industry, the "independent", indirect channel has been shrinking for decades.  IKON collected the best of the best in the '90s only to be swallowed by Ricoh.

In 2007, Xerox, through Global, started buying up local dealers - they haven't stopped here in 2017.

The dealer-on-dealer consumption rate seems to increase with each month.  But the day will come, soon, when we have two or three major dealers across the country - all things must end - just like Tower Records and Incacomp.

The Last Gunslinger - MpS Salespeople
Once, when the world of Wizards and Glass was young, there were many Gunslingers.  Idealistic and full of hope, these Visionaries honed magical skills - dispatching MpS agreements from the heart.

Profitable and vast, Mid-World was wide open - printers ran amok.

The Gunslingers rode in assessing and installing - reducing prints, clicks, images, cost, devices, and headache.

The time was glorious.

Today, MpS reps are a dime a dozen - a cross between copier and toner salesperson, the typical salesperson is just that: a typical salesperson.  No Acumen, Depth, or Vision, today's drones...drone on about their MpS program, customer retention rate, and company growth.  They bloviate about "30% cost reduction", "automatic toner-fulfillment", "60-month contracts" and "Service SLAs", fooled into believing these points are relevant.

Gone are the discussions about business problems, how managed print services is a program that connects IT and office automation; how MpS are business process optimization.

It's too easy to sell on price and normal to pitch 'cost savings' over convenience - the posers are always red-handed.

Roland is the Last and Ka is a wheel - everything ends at the beginning.

The Last Word
The copier niche has a few good years left as consolidation, and less need for print and HP to converge.  I've said it before and will continue to preach:  There is no better place to acquire sales skills so learn all you can.  The industry is full of bullshit - there is no such thing as top-down loyalty so don't expect any - believe in yourself, not your current employer.  Learn all you can - not just product knowledge but observe how your manager behaves, and what motivates your regional/district manager.  Regard every step ownership makes; with employees, customers, and your partners.

It is difficult to look into the fire, while you are in the flames, but the most valuable lessons are learned through indirect observation, not specific teachings. "You learn more from a three-minute record than you ever learn in school."  Soak everything in, but with a grain of salt.

Remember, all the motivation and talk about how leadership is there to "help you be successful" is manipulation.  

The talk track shifts to motivation as soon as you see it as an attempt to manipulate you into being a "company person".  Which isn't terrible, the machine requires cogs.

But you're in sales, you can do anything.

In the end, this doesn't mean your journey is over - the Journey never, ever ends - The Last MpS is another stone in the river of life.


Enjoy the ride.

"Everything dies baby that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on fix your hair up pretty And meet me tonight in Atlantic City"

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

New to #Copier Sales? What’s Going on In Your New Industry?

You’re hearing a great deal about “disruption” in the copier niche — but it’s actually turbulence, not disruption. A cursory look back through our history reveals that manufacturers digesting competitors and dealers coagulating together is the normal state of affairs. Whether Ricoh/Lanier, Ikon, Ricoh/Ikon, Canon/Océ, Global, Xerox/Global, HP/Samsung, Staples/DEX, Flex, Pulse, POA, Gorden Flesch, Marco or dozens more, acquisitions and mergers occur what seems almost daily. The rate has accelerated but the process has been the same. Like galactic space, the expansion and contraction is eternal.

Today, every dealer is looking for a way to deal with a declining industry by offering new services, or through merger or acquisition, and when it comes to attracting outside funding or merger candidates, the window is closing.

And that’s OK; it is the way of things.

Here are some ideas for a newbie to copier sales:

“Ignorance is bliss”

I’m not recommending you shove your head in the sand and ignore the reality that is the copier industry circa 2019 — we are ALL experiencing external pressures on our everyday lives. Focusing on what we can influence, like cold calls and presentations, has always been the best approach. Go about your routines and keep an ear to the ground. Establish a network of contacts inside and outside the industry and always be improving your personal business acumen. If you are working for a family-owned dealership but are not in the family, keep your options open.

“Business as usual”

Staff reductions and reduced real-estate footprints are frequent. Smaller dealers are being gobbled up by bigger organizations every day. Still, the standard press release after a merger or acquisition relates something along the lines of, “We look forward to offering our clients exceptional service during this transition,” which is a true statement. But looking back in time, it’s easy to find examples of mergers and acquisitions initially removing redundant functions, then ultimately reducing costs through staff write-downs; it is a consistent formula.

Concentrate on your 30-day cycle — that’s the best thing to do. Keep the sales coming in, and maintain your personal standing. But don’t stop there. Build out your LinkedIn presence and be more than just a lurker.

Contribute on social media without being a sycophant, and crystalize your personal brand, not your current employer.

“Will I have a job 12 months from now?”

In copier sales there is a magical milestone: to see if you can make it through the first 12 months of your copier sales career. So make it through. Sell stuff while learning your business processes and client digital transformation experiences. Work with your...

Read the rest, here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Copiers: Let Go of the Past

Copiers, printers, scanners, fax, print servers, cloud print, duplex, scan-once-print-many, color, analog to digital, laser, inkjet, managed print services, to managed services...our turbulent path has crossed many borders, hills, and valleys.

Lots of things have changed since Chester pulled together his seven steps and yet, much remains the same. The print world moves slowly.  Like a river cutting the Grand Canyon, a real, significant change occurs over decades(which seem like eons).

For the Change Agents, this is the apogee of frustration.  We saw the true meaning of managed print services and the future of print.  The signs were there before the HP split, before the debacle that was Xerox/Fuji.  

We predicted the need to shift from selling from boxes to solutions to business acumen, in 2007. We saw the "P" change to "p" in MpS.  The time was then.

Along the way, a few early adopters burned the ships.  Back then, what we saw as secular most experts called a fad.  I remember presenting the Internet of Things back in 2012.  Interesting and way ahead of the curve.

No longer frustration; we're morose. It is sad to look at the missed opportunities. Volumes are dropping so how can an OEM still release 13 or more new models?

Is it ignorance? No, everybody is printing less and has been for a decade.  It's not a secret.
Is it stupidity? No, back in the day, these folks were THE technology innovators.
Is it the continued propagation of a bygone belief that if you build it, they will buy? Yes.  More succinctly, it is the undying grip on the past, unrelenting fear of change, and stubborn faith that if "we can hang on, we'll flourish".

Although purchasing devices, customers are placing a reduced number - worse, if there is a copier on every floor, nobody is using it.  Volumes are down to around 2,000 images a month.

The consolidation continues, independent dealers coagulate and OEMs dissolve, as the niche works through its annihilation.

Options are getting scarce, but there are painful opportunities: Medical equipment, BI, Energy Management, and more.  We've just got to let go.

Fortunately, we see the end is near.

We can make plans, see friends, write letters and move to the next stage, confident and aware.

Contact Me

Greg Walters, Incorporated