As a new copier sales rep, you’ve got more tools to help you keep in touch with or establish new relationships than any generation before you.

It can be a bit confusing for new entrants to determine what to use. Your sales manager will probably recommend you do two things:  Get on the phone, and hit the streets — physically. And your manager is correct.

I’ll frame this for the new copier rep, although this statement applies to any new salesperson in any sector of office technology: when it comes to learning what needs to be done to reach quota, you are drinking from a firehose.  Which is appropriate because you’re also going through a “baptism of fire.”

I believe time spent in front of opportunities should be your only charge — not maintaining your CRM, not attending “how to sell” classes, not getting in at 7 a.m. to hear your sales manager berate some and extoll others — forget about ringing that dang bell, or President’s Club.

Get in front of and attract folks with like minds looking to solve business problems.  Now, the trick here is “getting in front of.”  Old school management remembers and promotes cold calls over the phone and knocking on doors in your territory. This is not an incorrect notion, but it is a narrow interpretation of what it means to sell professionally.

Today, I’m going to share with you five basic tools that every salesperson on the planet is now or has in the past engaged in. I know there are more than five ways to find and connect with prospects, but for today, let’s talk about the phone, instant messages, LinkedIn, email and face-to-face encounters.

The phone — your new best friend

We loathe cold calls.  And why not? We hate receiving a cold call – how many times do I need to be reminded that the warranty on a car I haven’t owned for five years has expired?  

One hundred dials every Thursday? Sounds great. Being hung up on is a rite of passage. Fumbling the name of your dealership is another milestone, so is getting a prospect to call your manager demanding you never call back again — or maybe that’s just me.

Here’s why the phone is important:

Nobody likes to make cold calls or answer cold calls; when you’re doing it, you are one of the few. Believe it or not, a voice on the other end of the line is more welcome today than just 36 months ago. Why? The pandemic. A real, human voice, instead of a text, recording, email or live stream, trumps all other points of contact — bridging the nostalgic to the everyday, via a friendly “Hello.”

Be quick, don’t sell, look for curiosity, ask for 15 minutes, schedule on the calendar and then GET OFF THE PHONE.

When a prospect tells you “no” they are doing you a favor.  Don’t spin your wheels, don’t invest your time, move on to the next opportunity.

Instant messaging — your new superhero?

For some, this is a new one.  For many, this is an annoying method.  I like the ability to answer questions quickly via text.  I can be in a crowded room, on the beach, or in another useless sales meeting and still respond to clients and prospects.  

Do I think that cold texting is the way to go? No.  I think more prospects are open to the method, but still feel earning the right to IM is a necessary step.

LinkedIn — your professional networking powerhouse

In the digital age, LinkedIn has become the tool for salespeople. It’s not just about networking; it’s the place to build credibility, showcase knowledge, and attract potential clients. 

Three basics:

  • Build a solid profile – This is your online business card. Include a professional photo, compelling headline, and a detailed summary highlighting your expertise in solving business problems.  I personally shy away from dealer names or OEM logos, unless they pay for your account.
  • Networking – Connect with potential clients and decision-makers through common LinkedIn groups. Post informational content, they comment, and become a part of their network.
  • Research/intelligence – LinkedIn’s advanced search function lets you filter and find prospects in your area who match your perfect customer profile on paper. Check out who’s viewed your profile, as these could be folks looking for the expertise your comments, posts or profile suggests.

Emails — your digital business card

People still read email. The secret is in the subject line and brevity. Make your subject field short, honest and intriguing — something you would read and would entice you to open. One paragraph, three to four sentences along the lines of “we don’t know each other yet, I’ve helped organizations like you, can we have a 15 minute chat?”  Simple, brief, to the point.

Face-to-face chats — the classic approach

Nothing beats a good old face-to-face chat. In the SMB, drop-ins may lead to an on-the-spot business discussion.  Larger accounts typically end up being personal interactions that help foster trust and bring you closer to closing the deal.

Your sales strategy

There is no magic bullet, no single approach. In fact, utilizing only one avenue will be fruitless.  Your strategy must include all of the above and more.  For now, here are a few pointers to consider for your omnichannel approach:

  1. Start strong – Kick things off with a phone call.  Leave an informational, short voicemail. If you are a risk taker and have your prospect’s cell number, go for the instant message and see what happens.
  2. Network online – Again, putting content out on LinkedIn is a great way to build credibility.  Not all your prospects will be users, which seems unbelievable to me, but so be it. Establishing an online presence is good for your current and future positions.  
  3. Turn cold into warm.  Once you integrate all of the above, you’ll begin to understand and to empathize with your prospect.  Effectively, you get to know about your prospects before you get a face-to-face appointment.  Also, when you post original content, interesting articles and respond to your prospects’ posts or send an email with an attached article, your prospect is getting to know you as well.  This turns those frigid phone calls into a more tepid engagement.

The objective is to create a smooth, engaging, multifaceted trip for your prospects as they become your customers.

These ideas are as basic as selling gets, but foundational and important for your ongoing and evolutionary journey into more complex and varied selling.  Don’t be afraid of the phone, engage on all levels, get to know your prospects as much as possible and earn the right to ask for an appointment.  As you implement this process, you become a professional, someone who projects business acumen and an authentic demeanor.  You will get more appointments.

One more thing, beware taking an example from the more seasoned selling professionals regarding cold calls and walk-ins.  When you see colleagues breaking quota without getting on the phone, remember they were once in your seat, dialing for dollars and sending introduction letters in the mail — just ask them.

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