“We are happy with our current provider and will let you know if we need anything.” This is an all-too-common objection that sales reps hear on a daily basis. Most frequently, this particular objection stems from a buyer persona that is about two or three years into their five-year lease and just can’t bear to deal with ANOTHER random copier rep. Funny thing though, their device has been breaking much more frequently in recent days, the response times have been ridiculously slow, and the rep that sold the deal originally is nowhere to be found. All of these things are plaguing the business, yet the buyer still treats you like dirt because you put off the same basic vibe as every other salesperson they encounter. And, since you just so happen to be the copier rep, you get a trophy for being one of the most despised of them all.
So if you’re thinking the hair stands up on the back of your prospect’s neck and they get goosebumps all over when you ask them about the expiration date on their copier lease, then you are sorely mistaken and might want to read the rest of this article.
Copiers are boring. Yeah, I said it. Buyers and end users everywhere already know it. Yet, we continue to pitch in a way that blatantly ignores this fact. People are not as entertained by “the copier” as they might have been once upon a time in the MFD industry. And, your buyer is inundated with sales pitches throughout the year from a plethora of different representatives, each one packed with buzzwords about efficiencies and cost saving concepts that are generic at best, with the majority of these pitches showing up right around the time that the lease is expiring on their existing agreement.
It is all so extremely predictable to the buyer. There is no real experience being offered in the approach, and the only reason anyone is getting in a bid outside of the incumbent is because “the boss wants me to get three quotes.”
So what is the answer to our outreach issue as MFD/technology reps?
Well, you might have to saddle up the cavalry because the argument centered around what kind of sales methodologies work the best feels more like a war than a debate. Inbound versus outbound. Email campaigns versus cold knocking. Telemarketing versus direct mail. Truthfully, it’s a lot of noise with the noisemakers all presenting arguments for their personal favorite tactic that worked at one point or another.
Each individual outreach method needs a wake-up call because it is not the medium we choose as much as it is the message we are using to represent who we are and what we want to accomplish with our prospects. What works for one business may not work in another, what is a strength for one rep might be a weakness for the next. What is preferred by one buyer might not be valued by their peers. In other words, there is no one way of selling that works perfectly in this day and age because both the marketplace and workforce have diversified immensely. Some studies show that almost 50% of the workforce is made up of millennials and, according to one study, over 70% of decisions made in the B2B space are either influenced or made by a millennial.
This means the landscape has changed. Buyers have an evolving perspective, new influences, and a changing approach to the way they purchase goods and services. Your buyers are surfing social media, they live and die by technology, and they have a much different outlook and focus than the last generation of buyers.
Interrupt marketing and a mindset shift
Interrupt marketing is about taking the same old thing that most buyers are numb to and flipping it on its head. It’s about acknowledging the elephants in the room and understanding the stereotypes that exist between salesperson and buyer. Furthermore, it’s about creating a moment where the prospect is forced to audit their own expectations because the novelty of it all forced them into a slower, more intentional cognitive processing style. This is the moment when the prospect is pulled from the routines that so often prompt them to dismiss your marketing efforts, and are replaced with the seeds of FOMO (fear of missing out).
We are still going to walk in the front door of our prospect’s office, just like we always have. Only, we won’t be handing out that boring brochure with all those fancy pictures of the copier (you know, the one that typically ends up in the trash anyway). Nor will we be presenting the same old business card that is tossed into the decision-maker’s bottom drawer, where salespeople go to die.
Instead, we must be focused on becoming the buzz of the entire office. We need to implement a strategy that builds a reputation during the first touch. We need to create a small rumble that echoes your name throughout the halls.
Why? Because buyers see copier reps as boring and predictable. You call, and call, and call some more. “Hi, is your lease up yet?” No matter what you are actually saying, that’s what your point of contact hears when you dial, email or stop in to see them. You are a song that has been sung a million times before. Nothing new, nothing exciting. And the key to successfully overcoming this issue is to admit just that. Because, as I said before, your buyers already feel this way and it is our duty to meet them where they are.
Interrupt marketing is how legends are made. The focus is on driving undeniable curiosity in your prospect, creating a new form of relevance, causing FOMO, and building something that feels familiar to each individual you encounter. I am not talking about your mama’s marketing here, folks! I am talking about incorporating QR codes, augmented reality, videos, props and crumpled up pieces of paper into your sales processes. I’m talking about empowering your reps to break the stereotypes they go up against every day. I’m talking about literally revolutionizing your marketplace because of your newfound focus on prospect experience and its relationship to your pipeline.
Here is an example of a powerful interrupt marketing tool that is specifically designed for copier reps. It’s called “the repair brick.” This brick comes with a little instruction manual on how to throw it at their problematic machine as a means of coping with the pain it causes their business. Imagine your reps taking small foam bricks out to all their prospects – how fun is that? This marketing piece yields instant results in regard to setting initial meetings and is currently being used in major metropolitan marketplaces in California, Kentucky, Texas, Indiana, Illinois, Florida and New York.
The real point is to recognize that you should be building your own interrupt marketing tools for your sales teams to use. Also, recognize that interrupt marketing principles can be built into talk tracks and email templates. It’s not just zany props and comic strips. True, there are some pretty amazing things that you can do with technology to create these concepts. But, you can also use the mediums you are already used to — it just takes a little extra creativity.
The future of sales in the business technology sector is up for grabs. Increasingly the tactics and methods of yesteryear lose their grip on buyers. Organizations will have to adapt to the expectations and desires of the buyer. One sure way to bridge this gap is with interrupt marketing. This builds a reputation. It cultivates employee engagement and curbs turnover. But more than any of that, it’s what buyers want and deserve.
A big point to make here is that this is not some form of specialized sales that requires a 12-month course to fully understand and implement. This is the idea of tapping into the basics of communication in order to start connecting with our prospects instead of treating them like a transaction. It is the concept of revitalizing your territory into a community. A community in which you actively serve and explore in the name of the sales legacy that you will leave behind one day. A bigger picture perspective to your walk as a professional and the mindset of a warrior.
Therefore, we must choose to radically educate each and every individual we encounter. We must choose to turn our pitch into an interactive story that captivates our audience. We must lead with relevance, and replace a cold call with an unforgettable experience. Intentionally creating familiarity for our prospects in order to build credibility and earn trust. It’s time for a sales rebellion to sweep across the industry. A net new revolution is on the rise and the principles listed in this article are leading the way. Will you be on the front lines?
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