New to Copier Sales: Advice for Overcoming Sales Stalls

It was a typical Friday afternoon when a buddy and I had the unexpected pleasure of chatting with a newly minted copier sales professional. The setting was informal, cigars and bourbon and remote via Zoom, yet charged with the enthusiasm of someone eager to make their mark in the industry. As we shared stories and strategies, our conversation drifted to a fundamental challenge that every salesperson faces at some point: a stalled sale. The question posed by our eager newcomer was as straightforward as it was profound: “What do you do when a sale has stalled?”

Is this the quintessential selling query of all time, or what? Yes, Greg. Yes, it is.

As you can imagine, we answered with all the standard responses,

“Find a reason to physically visit and get a face-to-face conversation.”

“Send flowers.” 

“Send pie.”

“Offer a discount.” 

Even jokingly suggest, “If I make my quota, I’ll earn a trip to Timbuktu.”

Beyond the standard answers, we told him most challenges to closing are a product of activity — or lack of activity — at the start of the sales cycle. This was gold. What followed was a twenty-minute slice of sales advice nirvana.

Reviewing each sale that didn’t turn out as planned uncovers overlooked warning signs. Issues like high turnover, miscommunication, or that intuitive feeling that something is amiss in the decision-making process become unmistakably clear in hindsight. The red flags were present all along, either missed or just below the surface.

Recognizing these indicators is important, giving us guideposts on how we can avoid late surprises or deal killers. We’ve distilled our experiences into practical strategies. Although there are thousands of suggestions on how to minimize the stall in sales, here are three key recommendations that stand out based on our insights:

Three strategies to minimize sales stalls:

  1. Set Clear Next Steps: Always ask for the next step in terms of date and time.
  2. Plan for Missed Connections: Always ask, “What if we don’t connect? What should I do?”
  3. Aim for Clarity: In the end, go for the “No”

“What’s next?”

This is more than just a question – it’s a key qualification step. After the first call, demonstration or proposal meeting, simply ask, “What is our next step? When should we get back together?” Get it on the calendar right then and there and then get out of their hair.

If you start your cycle by asking this question, you set the pace, clarify intentions and receive a commitment from your prospect. 

It is obvious, but so many of us ignore or forget to do this – until the day comes when we must explain why we didn’t hit our quota this month.

“What if we don’t?”

This is a great question and idea.  Double down on the commitment and pose, “What if we miss each other, what should I do?” The goal here is to confirm you are both on the same page or expose any conflicts or red flags. Again, getting to know the details of the decision process is paramount and this question reveals intentions.

Also, and this is important, set this tone early so your prospect is comfortable answering. For example, if during the 30-day cycle, you consistently set and met the timetable, your prospect is going to be receptive to answering, “After our proposal meeting, what happens next?”

“Go for the no.”

At the end of the cycle, when it is time for a decision, the most important answer is either “yes” or ‘no’.  Being turned down isn’t the best, but it is better than getting no answer at all.  This approach may invoke the “push away” maneuver – state out loud, “You sound like you’ve decided not to move forward.  Can you tell me why?” Get the answer and take it from there.

I know this sounds counterintuitive and, in a sense, it is. When you find yourself in a situation where the odds of a close are dropping, pushing away from the table might be the best option. This notion plays into the disconnect theory (disconnecting emotionally from results).

“Disconnect” means maintaining a professional detachment and focusing on the sales process without getting emotionally invested in the outcome. When disconnecting, you handle rejection and maintain your confidence and motivation. Feedback and objections are viewed as opportunities rather than personal setbacks. It’s about recognizing that in your world, not every “no” is a loss but rather a step toward a future “yes.”

It’s all about qualification.

Moving along the cycle can be a nuanced journey, but establishing a cadence confirms the opportunity is viable after every stage. When you confirm forward motion, qualify what to do when obstacles occur and don’t find a “no,” your pipeline is flowing. This opportunity remains qualified.

Our industry continues to transform as the established ways of processing, collecting and presenting ideas evolve away from paper.  At times, from the outside, our niche is viewed as old-fashioned and mocked, making attracting new talent more difficult.  We dress it up as “technology sales” or “IT services” or even “AI-infused print,” but the fact remains, you sell copiers, and attracting new sales talent, let alone motivated and resilient individuals is challenging. That’s why 20 minutes of conversation with a new person was so fulfilling – things are good.  He was truly excited about meeting businesspeople and sharing his great products, services and solutions. Exuberant.

Meeting and talking with a “next generation” professional was refreshing, rewarding and of all things, hopeful. Curious, open to learning, and hardworking are just a few of the descriptions I used for this individual and hope there are a few more like him just getting into sales.

People like this are attracted to dynamic environments with a promise of financial and emotional fulfillment. This person is a gem, and we need all the gems we can find.

Our future is just like every other industry’s – unwritten.

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.