The COVID impact is creating turbulence and waves of change moving through all facets of life. One of these waves is flowing through the ocean of business meetings and face to face appointments. You, as a new copier rep, can catch a wave to more success.
We used to call them “networking groups.” Local Chambers of Commerce and small business groups would put together an after-hours event, inviting local businesses to connect with each other and prospects.
They met once a month and ended up being full of real estate agents and insurance salespeople handing out business cards and trading stories over drinks.
It seems almost old school, but I think these types of get-togethers are more important now than pre-COVID. But there is a difference and I’m suggesting you take advantage of the subtle shift in connecting with prospects. Hosting a small group in a casual, off-site meeting over coffee or adult beverages is a great venue for high quality meetings.
This is not a huge production, so there’s no need for big planning meetings or marketing pieces. You’re just Jane/John getting together for an informal chat with peers.
You can host these small gatherings. It’s easy when you consider the following:
- Local presence – be the neighbor
- Casual invitation – simple and to the point
- Content – generally engaging and timely
- Print – leave the laptop at home
- Expectations – keep them low
“Local” means in your territory.
This takes a bit of planning. Find a watering hole close to that industrial park you’re working and secure a table in the back. Starbucks, the local coffee joint, or one of the chain restaurants may have space available. Most of these are free of cost – they’re looking to gain revenue from the coffees and snacks, so order up the first round.
Once you’ve got the location, send out the email announcements, make phone calls and invite your prospects. Utilize social media, Facebook is good for local attention and a quick, simple email, with the invite in the Re: field is a simple task. Don’t put together a snazzy email, leave the logos and corporate header aside and be you. Make it a personal note, not a boilerplate mass mailing.
Keep the invite list small and manageable and your content to a sentence. Send it and forget it, don’t follow up.
It goes without saying, but I’ll say it: face to face meetings demand relevant content. As a matter of fact, relevance is more important today than ever before. Prospects are willing to talk but expect more than a sales pitch. You’ve got to be meaningful from the tagline to the last slide.
This is not a demo.
Business content like “How to thrive after Covid” and “Finding the right employees” are more attractive than “Moving from paper to online forms” or “Scanning your documents.” Search out broad issues in the business news realm – subjects outside the copier industry. There are literally thousands of ideas floating around. Grab one, do a little quick research and put together some conversational topics.
We are experiencing a new way to work, less formal engagements, open and transparent agendas, business conversations that have everyday applications and immediate return on investment. Indeed, the word “investment” applies to time. Not just time, but quality time.
I can’t believe I’m going to say this: skip the big screen presentation and move to printed material, if any. It’s true the handouts probably won’t make it past the front door, but tactile feedback adds to the casual yet informative tone. For the more seasoned prospects, paper will feel assuring. The newer generations will find it refreshing.
Don’t expect to close deals right then and there. You are providing useful information – leave the closing techniques at the office.
The purpose is to enhance your position in their eyes as a knowledgeable source of useful information, not a walking, talking spec sheet.
Also, you might receive 20 RSVPs, yet only one person shows up, and that’s alright. The challenge with casual meetings is that they are easy to not attend. Don’t be discouraged with a smaller audience.
What is the point?
Why spend time and energy on these types of meetings? You are building a well-rounded relationship with businesses inside your territory and more than likely separating yourself from the others.
You are improving your understanding of your prospect’s ecosystem, building a knowledge base, and making a positive impression.
Professional selling includes thousands of aspects, actions, and ideas. Every customer contact is an element in a formula supporting your long-term success. Your invite, the one-page handout about a subject that isn’t “you centric,” and insightful conversations are part of the bigger sales strategy.
Think about this – these conversations are rife with future content. If you decide to create a blog or write something for your dealer’s website, reflections from your prospects perspective are priceless.
What’s more, these meetings support your personal brand. The more you contribute, the more you’ll be recognized as knowledgeable if not an expert. People will seek you out for what you know, not what you sell. This will naturally result in more sales.
I know this idea is a bit out there, may not be supported by management, and possibly considered a waste. But today, even as travel remains restricted, people want to get together face to face. Just as intense is the negative reaction to working in an office under a structured, top-down design. At many levels, we have become less formal in approach yet more demanding in outcomes. Casual, easy meetings will enjoy a renaissance but won’t last forever. Go out there, toes on the nose, and surf this wave for all it’s worth.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.