New to Copier Sales – 30 of Your First 90 Days

What distinguishes a successful copier sales professional from the rest? The secret often lies in how they navigate their first 90 days.

Congratulations, you are now a fresh participant in the greatest and most chaotic job in the known world – professional selling.  

The bad news is, everything you’ve been told or heard about selling is true.  The good news is, everything you’ve been told or heard about selling is true.  Regardless, here you are.

The company will give you logoed swag, a place to sit and an orientation schedule. You’ll be trained by an internal resource and maybe an outside sales expert. You’ll be taught the basics of selling: the selling process, the company methodology for creating a proposal, leasing, hardware knowledge, marketing and cold calling, all presented in the likeness of your current employer.  Speeds, feeds and your CRM.

It will not be spoon-fed – it will be drinking from a fire hydrant.  Of course, there will be a timeline, levels of expectations, and you may be required to take a test.

This is all fine and dandy.  We’ve all been there.

But there is more, and you’ve got to be the one who drives this real process of your personal education.

I’m going to suggest a few things for you to do – activities that I’ve seen formally introduced in a few new employee orientations yet missing in most.  The first three subjects are, 

  1. The ridealong
  2. Internal tours
  3. Research

The ridealong

Without a doubt, you will be matched with a more seasoned salesperson to tag along on visits to existing customers, initial meetings, needs assessments, proposals and demonstrations, and observe all the daily tasks associated with selling copiers. This process is monumental and should be done once a quarter – no matter where you are employed. 

  1. Ride with your service technician for an entire day – buy lunch, pick their brain, hear the good and the bad. Ask about customers, paperwork, dispatch and how digitization impacted the service technician’s job.
  2. Ride with and share time with your subject matter expert.  Observe how they work with sales, service, prospects and customers.
  3. Have your primary OEM representative take you to lunch.  Uncover their goals and how you can help them look good for their boss. Ask them for help.

This is gold.

Internal tours

In addition to witnessing how sales is done, I suggest an additional path – internal department exploration.  In your dealership, spend time with every department in the organization.  Observe how things are done.  

This is key – you must understand how the business operates and the workflows and processes involved.

When you understand how your company works, you’ll recognize similar processes in your customers’ and prospects’ businesses – and how to apply your solutions to solving their business problems.

Few people grasp the significance and power of understanding core business processes and learning from real-world organizational challenges. This is called business acumen and the more you possess, the greater the separation between you and the mediocre.

  1. Get an inside look at your accounting department.  Let them tell you how they do their job, how they capture data and generate documents – both digital and on paper.  Learn their workflow and challenges.
  2. Follow a contract from inception to funding and invoicing.  Watch out for workflow bottlenecks due to paperwork and decision-making processes.
  3. Service/dispatch – Spend a day in the service department answering customer calls and scheduling installations and deliveries.  Learn how a service call is opened and closed, what happens after, how success is measured and how the customer experience is impacted with each contact.

Your interactions with the team are just beginning.  Keep an eye out for how your ownership and management handle day-to-day tactics as well as how strategy is executed and supported.  This will give you great insight to help you articulate a relevant business conversation with ownership and C-level decision makers.

Research

There is a saying in the sales world that goes a bit like this: “There is always something to learn from every sales training session, book and article.”  I’m not convinced this is true, but wholeheartedly promote self-improvement through understanding the world around you.

In the world of office technology and business, the continuous pursuit of knowledge is your fundamental responsibility. As a copier representative, particularly in the initial 30-day period, I recommend you delve deeply into specific areas:

  1. Managed print services is different for everyone. Discover your definition, and although the argument for or against MPS can be dramatic, no matter what others believe, MPS is truly a gateway to deeper opportunities.  Studying the basics like remote monitoring, billing structures, service delivery and support mechanisms creates and hones your transferable skills. 
  2. Managed IT represents the keys to the organizational kingdom: the more you know about how companies store, create and move digital information the better – indeed, knowing how IT departments evaluate, acquire and support new technology is vital to understanding an organization’s decision process.  To gain this insight is akin to knowing what goes on behind the scenes of every business.
  3. Digitization and artificial intelligence are mantras both old and new.  In your new world, “digitization” generally refers to moving data off paper and into the digital world and converting manual processes into digital workflows.

Colleagues, coworkers at your dealership and the internet are the best sources of material to help you along the path of enlightenment.  Don’t be intimidated; immerse yourself.

I know there is a great deal of stuff to learn, and increasing the growing pile of relevant and important corporate instructions is extreme, but adding the above items will help you be more rounded, relevant and give you credibility quicker.  More importantly, establishing these introductory practices will help you today, tomorrow and beyond as you traverse the professional selling landscape.

One more thing.  

Getting to know your industry is paramount; getting to know the people in the industry is even more important.  Your new niche is a great place to be because of how we take the latest technology and make it available to the widest spectrum of businesses.  As you know, or will soon appreciate, all businesses, large and small, are composed of people. You are now an entry-level evangelist and champion for simplifying life. Congratulations again. Sell on!

is an entrepreneur and founder of the notorious destination site TheDeathOfTheCopier, where he comments on all things imaging, the rise of managed services and the advance of business technology. A prolific writer and frequent speaker, Greg shares his passionate, unique – and often provocative – view of technology and people, addressing the impact of digital on 21st century business. His 2014 book, Death Of The Copier, offers a controversial summary of the early days of Managed Print Services and the not-so-distant future of the hard copy industry. Reach out to Greg at greg@grwalters.com.