The game is changing; but it always has been.
The way businesses align purchasing is shifting; but it always has been.
New marketing platforms are emerging; but always have been.
Sales is evolving; but always has been.
There is talk of a selling rebellion; but there always has been.
There's chatter about the new selling, the new way businesses are buying and how the sales professionals of today had better change our ways. We've got to multiply our efforts ten fold, continue to cold call and embrace social media.
Today, "Kings", "Cowboys" and "Warriors" populate our little niche and we've got professionals "saving the industry one copier at a time". Worthy, noble and authentic efforts - I'm all for self-branding and rebellion. I question the focus of our current emotional revolt.
Words mean things -
Revolt: refuse to acknowledge someone or something as having authority
Revolution: a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favor of a new system
So yes, we as a profession, are in the mood for revolt and revolution. It's understood the selling representatives are the Rebels but who are we 'rebelling' against? Who are the bad guys?
Are we taking on the old-school mentality? Assaulting old techniques is one thing, but these are outdated tools, not the root of evil.
Maybe we're rebelling against our prospects and customers - not the brightest idea. Conducting a revolution against other sales people is self-destructive and most likely a strategy our nemesis relies upon. From the outside, it must look like we're a bunch of self-loathing, never good enough yahoo's running around spewing "transformation, this" and "the new way of that...".
I know who. If you're a sales trainer, you're not going to like it. If you're a sales manager, you're not going to like it. If you're selling anything through a tiered channel, you are not going to like it. Heck, I don't even like it.The target of our revolution are those who inflict quotas, false ideals and untrustworthy sales techniques: OEMs, Mega dealers, and vendors of the day are the enemy.
I have moved from certainty to doubt, from devotion to rebellion.
- Phil Donahue
I am the last one to call for unionization - unions kill - but an organized resistance is the only alternative. I'm talking about a guild of selling professionals - similar to the Screen Actor's Guild. So who is in a position to organize contemporary selling professionals? I have no idea but a great start would be for sales people to think differently:
CAUTION: Rebellions require blood. The cost of freedom is never free and all revolutions, have casualties. Who, in this cause, will give all? Who will create change through sacrifice?
For all the managed print services sales classes, books, seminars, webinars and white papers I've seen, nobody talks about the, "Golden Minutes".
Wouldn't it be interesting to hang around after a customer presentation and hear what your prospect say about you, your presentation and offering?
Think about it, you've planned, written or created the perfect proposal and slide deck. After 45 minutes of flawless, formulaic presentation you've trialed for a signature, clarified, isolated and answered objections, moving the opportunity down the sales funnel - you can practically smell the 'share of wallet'.
You obtain as much commitment as possible, short of gaining a signature.
After the handshakes, promises of follow up, "Looking forward to working with you." statements and thanking the receptionist, you find yourself in the parking lot, debriefing with the team. You're talking about them, as they are talking about you.
The most important conversation is the one held 5 minutes after you leave -
Do you think they comment on your choice of colors for your Powerpoint? How about all your credibility references? Are they looking forward to being your partner or adding you to the vendor list?
I've had conversations with clients who've paid me to help them bring in a program.
I am telling you, from coast to coast to coast, you, the sales professional and your prospects ARE NOT ALIGNED.
I've been there five minutes after vendors, partners, OEMs, supplies, dealers and VARs make stellar and expensive presentations. I've talked about you with all manner of C-Level and director types, its not pretty. Actually, it is sad.
Here is a summary comments I've heard with my own ears:
What does "scan once, print many" mean? Anyone? Bueller ... ? Back in the good old days of analog copiers, pagers and dinosaurs, the scanner on copiers needed to take a “picture” for every copy made: When 10 copies were requested, the scanner moved across the original 10 times. You can imagine how this added to the wear and tear of a device and repeated, on-site service.
Once devices became digital, the need to scan for each copy ended. Instead, one picture was taken, digitized and available to print for each image requested.
It was a common demo technique to place an original on the glass, touch 10 copies, and while the batch was being output, raise the ADF. In the analog world, this act would result in copies of open lids and black space. Prospects were known to gasp because the digital photocopier kept churning out copies of the original, even with the lid raised.
Digital devices carried another cool quality; they connected to a network. As time passed, somebody in the copier world pondered, "if a copier can connect to a network, why can't it “talk” with other machines?"
"You will never print another document ever again.”
I know you still have printers and copiers. But I know you’re not printing or copying like you had three years ago. If you’ve made business process optimization an initiative, then you know what I mean. I’ve also found that companies with no ‘green’ or digitization plan, have naturally reduced print. Some telling me, ‘we just don’t print anymore’. I also know players like Xerox, Ricoh, and Lexmark are experiencing great consolidation, and paper plants have shuttered across country.
Indeed, from the WSJ, 1/2018-
"One of Xerox’s problems is that it has been broken into two pieces. A year ago, Conduent Inc. (NYSE: CNDT) was spun out. It describes itself as a “business process services” company, which makes it more of a consultancy than a seller of hardware. Xerox retained the hardware business, which sells products that may have been useful to businesses a decade ago but are no longer.”
Customers around the world, are organically reducing devices, copies and prints needed to conduct business- this has been going on for years. For companies like Xerox and Ricoh, whose primary revenue stream is generated with each sheet of marked paper, this is a formidable challenge. And like every shrinking industry before it, the copier niche is not going quietly into the night. For those of you left looking for a copier, it might the best time to work your provider for better pricing - just wait until the 25th of the month - everyone is scrambling and competing for a slice of a shrinking pie.
In the face of this turbulence, photocopier manufacturers and independent dealers are responding in one of three ways -
1. Selling themselves as a "document consultant” and trusted advisor, promising to help you manage your decreased reliance on print.
2. Selling to a larger dealer or manufacturer in an effort to cash out and retire.
3. Shifting away from copiers and printers to markets like IT services, water or energy management.
All you need is a scanner.
You know you aren't copying as much as you once had been.
WE know you aren't copying as often, too. Heck we've known for decades you rarely, if ever, copy or print on tabloid, 11x17. So why have we been selling you devices capable of melting plastic on larger sheets of dead tree matter?
Because bigger machines look more impressive, that's why. You've been fooled into believing 'those little printers can't keep up with the bigger copiers...' You've been lied to.
Here's why we've been selling you too much:
From production schedules to the sales team - forecasts and quotas have less to do with a positive user experience and more to do with continuous manufacturing.
Think about your monthly equipment quota. Can you honestly say those numbers drive customer service excellence?
Equipment quota's aren't yours, they are your your prospects' - you're asking them to fulfill your OEM's materials requirements planning scheduling. Can you see?
"On the first of the month we sell solutions, after the 20th, we sell boxes..."Isn't it time to reconsider the entire equipment quota based sales model?
When you hear people say things like, "We've been promoting managed print services since the very beginning..." or "Our web-services are the best because we come out of your industry..." or even "We've been there, we've sold MPS and know what you need in lead generation, keyword utilization and PPC programs. We've been in social media from the very beginning..." remember this video.
That's Ken Stuart and me on the banks of the San Antonio, right after a thrill packed day of MPS pioneerism at Photizo II. The attendees were a collection of "cutting edge" MPS'rs and a great time was had by all.
"I blog because I like to read what I blog..." - GW
Ken and I were there, guess who wasn't. The crusty old guys who today consider themselves oracles of marketing. The self-proclaimed experts of all things "managed" - from printers, users, workflow to IT services (nobody but the uninitiated refer to managed services as "managed network services") are those who mocked MPS back in 2009.
There we were, sitting shoulder to shoulder with a freshly minted copier rep talking to a prospect. The rep was leading the team in monthly revenue and looking to lock it all up with this opportunity. The five of us, there on the provider side, two on the prospect, were discussing the benefits of managed services. Our prospect was lamenting the many challenges with the current IT services provider:
Yes - we could have closed right then and there...
But we didn't
It was bound to happen. Just as water finds its own level, all ideas seem to coagulate into one, homogenized experience. The internet is a great, swirling turbulent presentation of ideas, sales pitches and content and given enough time, websites begin to look and feel the same.
Studies show that the purchasing decision for your customer includes visiting 18 separate online sources before executing a sale. Additionally, other studies suggest that once a prospect reaches out to a provider, his or her decision is sixty percent complete.
Greg Walters, Inc.
“Greg is an influencer, a leader, and continues to speculate and prognosticate about the future of the imaging channel as a whole,” - Art Post
“Greg Walters is one of those 'firebrands' who isn't afraid to challenge the status quo...” - Ed Crowely - Photizo
Greg may very well be the epitome of "managed print services expert"