How Will Work From Anywhere Affect Copier Sales?

As the evolution of work from home (WFH) continues, standards and KPIs will begin to form, such as defining what “work from anywhere” means, setting up outcome- versus process-based KPIs, and discovering social value.

And to be frank, figuring out all the factors of how to work from anywhere is not your problem.  Selling professionals are independent and familiar with working on the road.  You’ve got to figure out how to hit quota – no matter what the situation.

First, let us look at what we can expect on a global scale. There will be fewer prospects, fewer images and fewer A3 devices.

Fewer prospects. Studies say at least 28% of the American workforce will be remote by 2025. Let’s say that means a third of the business will be gone, meaning one out three 36-month leases you are writing today will not renew. Empty offices mean no big copier, and no images – not doom and gloom, simple math.

Fewer images. This is a no-brainer. The fewer workers in the office, the fewer prints and copies generated.  In the heyday of the copier industry, weekly volume per employee could be 10,000 images. This is not true today, and even though math may increase the average prints per employee, it will never be what it once was.

Fewer A3 devices. Of the sales that will come, big copiers will find fewer homes. Nobody wants or needs tabloid output or a copier in the kitchen.

The shift was in process well before COVID.  Indeed, managed print services illuminated the immense overselling performed by our niche in a decade’s time. Multitudes of DCAs and assessments revealed A3/tabloid near 1% of total output.  Almost no A3 usage, shrinking volumes and lower cost made the decision to go with a smaller format an easy one.

But there is opportunity. I know salespeople who have made quota in highly restrictive regions of the country and while times are tough, dedication and smart work ethic carry the day.

So, it is with COVID. Good things will happen: More A4 sales, more educated prospects, consolidation and diversification.

More A4. I see this as a temporary spike, followed by a “long tail.”  The number of printers sold will approach, but never reach, zero. You can be a part of that phenomenon.

Here is one recommendation. Put together a pre-configured A4 unit with pricing.  Draw up lease figures for 36, 48 and 60 months with a service agreement for 100 images per month and a reasonable overage (if you run that type of SA).  Package the deal to include everything at a monthly cost.

Create an announcement on Canva.com and embed the graphic on your email signature. Post the graphic on LinkedIn and all your other social media.  Remember to embed a link to your email and send a quick link to an article about working from home (like this one) to your list of prospects.

That is it.  Every email you send has your unique offering in your signature. Use it in your approach pieces or drop-offs; that is, if you still canvas territories.

More educated prospects. Prospects are 80% through the cycle before executing a sale. Some see this as a threat, but it isn’t.  All you need to do is become a trusted source for information.  What information, you might ask? Any information about the world at large that affects general business, and there is no lack of content for you to curate.

Here is a longtime, proven approach. Set up Google alerts around important business issues today, like “how to hire new people,” “the impact of COVID on my business,” or “what’s next in the work from home environment.” Check your alerts every morning and find a suitable article, paste it into a notepad and share with your list.

One thing for sure, do not send any content selling your machines, your services, how long your dealership has been in business, how may sports teams you sponsor, awards, charities, or anything related to your dealership, manufacturers or solutions. This comes across as desperate and salesy.

Consolidation and diversification. Before COVID, the industry was rife with dealers merging and being bought. The pandemic accelerated this process as lack of revenue makes takeovers easier – dealers might be selling cheap nowadays.

This is good.  At first, companies being bought up by others may look like a terrible thing. Yes, redundant roles require reductions but, in most cases, consolidating is the only hope to remain in business.  At the least, thinning out the herd helps the industry remain strong.

Those who stay will be champions when they diversify offerings. Diversification has been a rallying call for decades.  From document management software and managed print services to managed IT services the once print-based industry has shifted to digitally advanced, innovative workflow solutions.  But it is not enough. The sustainable dealer will look to manage all aspects of a customer’s business, in an office or anywhere on the planet. This dealer will manage technology, of course, but also everything from coffee service to fire safety.

Keep your ears open.  New offerings like water or coffee services open more avenues for revenue. Embrace new opportunities and expand your target list. In fact, if your dealership is not looking to add new services, dust off your resume. It is an issue of self-preservation.

Keep your finger on the pulse of over-the-horizon technologies — it all applies to business.

For instance, the Internet of Things has been talked about for a decade. But what is it and how can it help people do business better? You should know this.

What are the newest applications in computing?  What is edge computing? What is micro-segmentation? How do these issues affect businesses?  How does print figure in?

Being knowledgeable about other technologies and how they might apply to business successes is an important skill that separates you from the rest.

COVID is still affecting all of us and nobody knows exactly when it’s going to end how it’s going to end and what it’s going to be like after it’s over — that is, if it is ever truly over. We are all making this up as we go. We’re in a stage of history where there are no experts. This means you can blaze your trail without breaking any rules. And it’s about self-preservation using what you already know to get through unknown situations is a human skill.

You will benefit from the “work from anywhere” reality from both sides – the freedom to work from the field and the ability to help clients starting their WFA journey.

Sell on!

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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.