New to Copier Sales: The Three Levels of Prospects, Part 2

Today we’ll examine the second area of sales genres, the midsized companies and opportunities

See Part 1 of this series for an explanation and disclaimer about profiles.

We’ll talk about the midlevel prospects through three dimensions: the approach, the tools, and the expectations.

A word or two about this segment

The bread and butter of the copier business is in this corner of the realm. The midlevel prospects implement decision-making processes, establish loose timing, and look for good advice on how to grow their business, grow sales, reduce costs, and increase profits.

Midlevel organizations have departments and specifically to you, an IT department. It may consist of one person or an outsourced vendor, but it is a decision-making influence.

I like this level because it’s structured, but not to the point of analysis paralysis – there are fewer political agendas and logic still prevails – for the most part. It is easier to work within the organizational structure at this level. Micro prospects are run and gun, and enterprise prospects have policies in place for every purchase from hand soap to satellite communications. Like Goldilocks, the middle option is the most comfortable.

Approach: One-to-many meetings, asynchronous communication and influencers.

You will have one primary contact, but look to get in front of as many people as possible. The best way to do this is to offer relevant educational information to more than one audience in the form of open meetings – online or in person.

For example, your research reveals a current prospect, who you’ve recently opened, hosts non-profit events. Your inquisitive personality also discovers these events need a great deal of effort, and the sponsor is looking for ideas to streamline event management. I know you are not an event planner; your prospect has admitted the same and is open to assistance.

But you know people.

You know an event planner or know somebody who knows somebody in the biz. Make the connection between your prospect and this source. Volunteer to host the meeting.

The same thing applies to prospects looking to educate their employees or set up sales training for their team – heck, host a “how to use your (iPhone, PC, laptop, etc.)” Anything other than how to move documents from point A to point B.

Guess what happens after you suggest a session – you become a de facto expert/influencer and a real, honest-to-goodness trusted advisor. Your sales manager is going to hate the idea but do it anyway – you’re building YOUR brand.

Tools: Email, newsletters, LinkedIn, video, SMEs

The midrange prospects complain about the volume of emails they receive, we all do, but we still use the tool.

There are plenty of expensive, exhaustive courses and sessions teaching how to create effective emails. They’re all trickery. The best way to communicate via email is to be brief, to the point, relevant and ORGANIC.

This means you write your own emails; your message is so brief, it is contained in the RE: field, and refers to something you BOTH agree is important or interesting. This goes for cold emails as well. Simple research reveals common threads between you and your prospects – there is always something.

Quick communication, unexpected value, and transferring business knowledge are wedge characteristics that separate the good from the best.

Expectations: Timelines, training/support, business solutions

At this level of business, you can expect a 30-day cycle. Of course, this is in a normal economic environment, one free of global pandemics and supply chain disasters.

Remember today’s selling reality – your prospect is venturing down 80% of decision processes without you. The timeline could be ahead of yours, so you’ll need to establish exactly where your prospect resides in the process and align correctly.

An interesting point with midlevel accounts is the need for initial and ongoing training. Selling a solution is one thing but fulfilling the promises you’ve made during the selling dance is paramount. Expect to schedule a training regimen. This may be as simple as a half-day session in front of a machine or a 12-week, intensive course. Show you’ve got the flexibility to handle whatever level of support desired AFTER the installation.

Although end users at this level show interest in how your solution works, the pretty colors available, what buttons to push, etc. the real powers that be are looking at solving business problems. They will unconsciously place you in one of two camps: A simple salesperson selling simple tools or a person who has experienced and solved different problems for other companies. This is the fork in the road, the difference between a ‘vendor’ and a ‘provider’ better yet, the difference between vendor and partner.

As mentioned, this level presents the best of the other two stages: flexible without the innate chaos of the micro. Structured, but not settled into rigid ideals, or over-committed to a process, not the outcome.

My recommendation is to center your plan around accounts that fit the above profile. You will gain experience in multiple, organized business structures and establish long-term relationships that are both interesting and profitable.

A few more tactical tidbits to remember:

  1. Respect the process.
  2. Consume content about the niche.
  3. Get the tour.
  4. Ask for the business.

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