The first year of appointments presents many challenges to the new copier rep, not the least of which is building knowledge and confidence. There are many aspects of sales to remember when meeting prospects for the first time, including building rapport, qualifying, informing, establishing trust and moving to the next step. But beyond all the sales techniques and training, when you’re meeting across a desk, coffee table or board room the best thing you can do is have a conversation. A simple, human to human conversation.

Your subject matter must be business-centric, so keep it easy but stay on target. Ask open-ended questions about your prospect’s business; you want them to tell you about the challenges they face every day. Do not fall into the practice of answering questions for your prospect.

Introducing yourself and your company — no company value proposition, and no 200 slide presentation

For the love of all that is sacred, please do not launch a 30-slide “company value proposition” presentation. Even when your prospect is being polite, they hate these things. Don’t do it. Know your company story so deeply that you can articulate the company vision in a relevant and understandable manner.

I know you are anxious to get out there and tell the world your OEMs, software partners and dealership are the best in the industry. But guess what? Every other copier rep in the past and present has said and is saying the exact same thing.

Do you want to be just like everybody else?  No.

Instead, learn what your dealership has done for other clients. Be ready to tell the story of how current customers are saving money and time. Refer back to some of the challenges your prospect has shared with you and tell them how your company has solved similar problems in the past.

Take great, handwritten notes — no laptop

Yes, you work for a technology company, and sure, there are some nifty tools out there to facilitate interviewing. But clicking away at a keyboard on your lap or in a meeting is — at best — distracting. Even if you’re invited to use a laptop, don’t do it.

The best information retention technique is handwriting notes in the field. Pen, paper and attentiveness are your best tools besides your brain. Take notes, draw pictures and ask clarifying follow-up questions.

Keep the focus on the conversation, not the technology.

Closing for the next step — must have

There is a purpose to every single meeting, phone call, email and touchpoint: moving to the next step. The next step can be anything from an introduction meeting to a final signing of contracts, or even agreeing that you and your prospect do not have a fit. Each instance of contact must have a goal.

So, after you’ve built the foundation for a relationship, try some of these closing statements:

Sounds like we have a match.”

Looks like we can move forward.”

Feels like we are on the same page.”

“I think we can move to the next step.”

There is reason to use these specific words. The more relatable your words are, the easier it is to process questions on a sub-conscious level. You’ll notice the above statements propose the same action yet phrase that action in a different manner. The four words “sounds,” “looks,” “feels” and “think” each have relevance for specific types of listeners:

Sounds: Appeals to the analytical type, one who utilizes an “inner voice” when making decisions.

Looks: Visual, likes observing and seeing how a solution effects the office

Feels: Emotional.  Needs to experience a benefit at a gut level

Think: Financial.  Adds costs, rarely recognizes “soft costs”

Remember this when asking permission to move to the next step.

Today, most prospects recognize tired sales techniques and manipulation tactics, so don’t use any. Internalize your personal and specific brand — why are you doing what you do? Create conversations around your purpose without explicitly exclaiming it. Don’t start a sentence with, “Let me tell you my unique purpose,” unless you are sure the prospect wants to know.

I’m not making all this up; my recommendations are the result of dozens of appointments with new and experienced copier representatives. I’ve been shoulder to shoulder with clients looking for managed print services, copiers, managed IT and workflow solutions. I’ve seen every kind of pitch, value proposition, elevator pitch and closing technique invented. This stuff is real.

Tell your story, have a conversation, ask relevant and insightful questions and move to the next step.

Sell on.

Greg Walters

Greg Walters

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.