5 Common Mistakes People Make When Purchasing a Copier

quality checklistWe say it often on this blog: Purchasing a copier or multi-function printer for your business is a big decision. It is a decision most businesses do not make everyday, so you want to make sure you make the right one. In my 20-plus years with Sharp, I have seen customers completely satisfied when they have selected a copier that fulfills all of their needs. I have also helped many clients that made decisions that were less than optimal make better decisions for the future.

What are the most common mistakes I have seen businesses make when purchasing a copier or multi-function printer? I have outlined them below so that you can learn from them and be confident in the decision you make for your business.

1. Not buying color

Many businesses avoid purchasing a copier or multi-function printer because, “Color is too expensive.” When you look at the price of a black-and-white copier and a color copier side-by-side, it may appear that the color copier is more expensive. But, are you outsourcing color? Are you paying extra for short runs? Are you throwing away changed documents? Are you printing color to inkjet or laser desktops? If you answered yes to any of these questions, purchasing a color copier or multi-function printer could pay for itself and save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

2. Not understanding the lease

How often do you read the full terms of service when signing up for online services like Facebook or Gmail? Probably not very often. Most people do not read privacy policies and terms of services. Often all of the legalese looks like Greek to us!

Work with your salesperson to make sure that you understand exactly what is in your lease. Get a copy of anything you sign and understand what it means before signing.

Questions you should ask include:

  • How long is the term?
  • Is it a dollar out lease or a fair market value lease?
  • Can changes be made if your needs change?

3. Not understanding the service contract

Just like the lease on your new copier or multi-function printer, work with your salesperson to make sure you understand all that is included in your service contract. It is an ongoing expense for the next three to five years? Again, make sure you get a copy of anything you sign and understand what it means before signing.

Questions you should ask include:

  • How many copies are included?
  • What is the overage rate?
  • What is NOT covered?
  • Does it cover network or printing issues?
  • Can it be changed annually?

4. Over or underbuying

Over or underbuying is an issue that affects more than just office equipment. Just think of real estate and life insurance—you could get into trouble with both if you over or underbuy. How do you make sure you purchase a copier or multi-function printer that is just right for your needs? Ask these questions:

  • Does it have all of the functions I need?
  • Is the copier the right size?
  • Is it fast enough?
  • Will it handle the number of copies I make?
  • Will it last the length of the lease term?

5. Buying used or “certified pre-owned”

To save money, many businesses will buy a used or “certified pre-owned” multi-function printer or copier. Sure, this can save you money upfront, but how much will it cost your business in the long run? The piece of equipment may only last a few years, and you could end up purchasing two (or more) copiers when you could have purchased just one copier new. It also becomes harder to find parts and supplies as a copier ages (and has more problems).

While purchasing a certified pre-owned piece of equipment gives you some additional guarantees over a non-certified copier, it does not give you the same guarantees as purchasing from an authorized dealer. What happens if the vendor goes out of business? Who will back up those certified pre-owned guarantees? Purchasing a copier or multi-function printer from an authorized dealer such as Copeco gives you the guarantee of the dealer, as well as a manufacturer that will stand behind the product.

I hope these five tips will give you confidence when purchasing your next copier or multi-function printer for your business. If you are located in the the Canton, North Canton, Akron, Toledo areas or elsewhere in Ohio, contact us. We would be happy to walk you through the purchase process and help you pick the right copier for your business.

Take Your Printer or Copier for a Test Drive Before Purchasing

Test Drive Printers and CopiersSo many choices, so little time! With a wide variety of choices available in printer and copier equipment, you want to choose the best option for your organization or business. Do you need document scanning abilities for electronic filing or sending? Do you only need to print in black-and-white or does your sales team need high-quality color copying for full-color presentations? Or maybe your biggest concern is ease of use for your employees. Whatever your needs and concerns, a hands-on demonstration can easily answer those questions and help you make a great decision.

Having led several equipment demos during my sales career at Copeco, I know how beneficial they can be. Think of on-site demonstrations like test driving a car: Would you really buy a vehicle without taking it for a spin first? Probably not. First, you want to make sure the car has all of the amenities you are looking for. Next, you want to feel comfortable behind the wheel. Switch out PPM (pages per minute) for RPM (revolutions per minute), and cars and copiers are actually similar—though I suggest keeping your copier in the office and not on the road! Read more

How to Recruit for B2B Outside Sales Positions

How to recruit people for b2b outside sales rep jobsAlthough economic analysts tell us the hiring candidate pool is overflowing right now due to the recent recession, I still think it’s a challenge to hire the right person for a business-to-business outside sales representative position.

In our industry, copiers and printers are more than just office equipment, they are technology solutions that improve business workflow. An outside sales rep needs to not only be assertive, personable and motivated, he or she also needs to have a strong understanding of the technical products and software we offer. It requires just the right fit.

If you’re in the process of recruiting for an outside sales position in your industry, here are three sources of potential candidates I recommend trying:

People You Know

If you’ve been in an industry for a decade or more, then you probably know at least a few (or probably many) colleagues in your industry or related ones. You may even be good friends with some of them. This is the most logical place to start when you’re recruiting for a sales position. The chances of finding a good fit among this group are better than average.

Characteristics of those who may be interested in a new position include:

  • Those who are unhappy in their current position or locked into a smaller earning potential. A salary plus commission and bonuses can be very appealing to some.
  • Those who want to get more in-depth with the kind of technology you offer or are excited by working in a field where things change frequently.
  • Those who might enjoy the work environment you offer, whether the selling point is flexibility, family atmosphere or the latest tools of the trade.

People Your Employees Know

Another great source of job candidate referrals may come from your current employees. This is based on the same principle as my first recommendation. When you know someone, you not only have a good idea about personality, work habits, knowledge, etc., you also have a vested interest in his or her success.

At Copeco, we welcome employee referrals for our open job positions. If we hire, train and then retain someone an employee suggested, we’ll give the referring employee a bonus.

People You Connect with via Agencies, Ads and Websites

I list this option last because it requires the highest time investment and sometimes nets the lowest return. That’s because you have to wade through a pile of resumes from candidates who:

  • May be overqualified or underqualified
  • May not have the right personality for the job (which is pretty tough to tell just based on a résumé)
  • May not have the right experience for the job

Afterwards, there needs to be a screening interview and several in-person interviews to gather multiple opinions about the candidate. And, although you should always have candidates go through some type of interview process (whether you know them or not), the agency referral is usually the complete unknown.

Keep the Pool Filled

However, sometimes even the most promising candidate doesn’t work out. You usually know if a person is the right fit within the first week of training or on-the-job interaction. So, just in case your first choice doesn’t work out, be sure to retain your list of potential candidates so you can seamlessly continue your search.

Six Tips to Get the Most from Your Sales Prospecting Database

Update your marketing database regularlyA couple months ago, I shared five steps to conquering sales call reluctance, including the need to have a purposeful goal each morning (i.e. the number of calls you need to make in order to generate the sales you want.) A key component to success with this goal – and cold calling or sales prospecting in general – is an accurate, updated sales and marketing database.

A database of prospective customers is only as good as what the sales person enters into it. If you’re just starting out in a sales position or in a new sales territory, hopefully your predecessor left you with a good, clean call database that can help you generate sales leads right away. If you’ve been in sales for a while, you know people change jobs frequently. It’s important to keep track of those changes as much as possible.

Copeco purchased a sales database dedicated to our industry; from there, we expand that list in-house. Chances are there’s a database tailored to your industry, too. Hopefully, your employer already has one. If not, you may need to do some Internet searching to see what’s available. You can also tap Reference USA, a public database that many libraries offer as a free service.

Here are six tips I’ve found helpful in building my sales call database and getting the most out of it:

Update your database daily.

If you’ve found new contact names, titles, phone numbers, etc., make sure you add that information to the database immediately. Otherwise, you run the risk of misplacing the information or forgetting about it. Plus, you don’t want to waste time leaving voicemail messages for the wrong person or asking to speak to individuals who no longer work for a particular company.

You can also have your IT department run a quarterly database cleaning that checks for accounts with no activity during a certain period of time. I also recommend synchronizing the database with accounts receivable and payable. That helps you maintain customer relationships and follow up with people in a timely fashion.

Set a dedicated appointment call day.

I like Mondays because that’s when people are most ready to get something done. The rest of the week, I make survey calls and “dig” for information. Who’s the buyer or decision maker? What kind of equipment does the office use? When is the lease up? Then, it’s back to point #1:  update your database daily.

Target your database searches by industry or number of employees within a specific market.

For example, I might look for all real estate companies or medical offices or schools by zip code. Or, I may look for companies with more than 50 employees by zip code. That will be the group I survey and then approach on appointment call day.

Search for customers who may be interested in buying your product in the near future.

That’s a critical reason why I strive to gather lease information about printers and copiers when I’m making survey calls. Knowing that type of information gives me time to cultivate a relationship with a prospective customer before equipment is needed.

Add new names to your prospect pipeline through networking and referrals.

When you attend events, business after-hours, chamber lunches, etc., be sure to add that information to your database. Once again, point #1: update your database daily.

In addition, ask your satisfied customers for referrals. They can often be your best source of new sales leads.

Connect with as many customers and prospects as possible on sites like LinkedIn.

That way, when contacts change positions or companies, you’re in the know and can update your sales database right away.

As a sales person, your marketing database is your ticket to new sales. It pays to clean up your sales call list regularly and maintain it wisely. Get started today!

Five Steps to Conquering Sales Call Reluctance

I’ve been selling office equipment and related technology since 1993, and over the years, I’ve talked with many sales people in many different industries. One thing we all have in common is the occasional attack of what’s now termed “call reluctance.” I still think of it as simply fear of rejection.

Since becoming a sales manager for Copeco in 2007 (and even before), I’ve helped several sales employees recognize and deal with call reluctance. It’s a normal part of sales and often occurs when you’re in a slump or if you’re new to an industry. However, it must be handled quickly and effectively, or the fear of cold calling will only increase.

Here are some telltale signs of call reluctance:

  • Spending more time on research than on calls. Often, if you’re nervous about making calls, you will do lots of “prepping” for calls instead of making them.
  • Doing extra paperwork or dropping off business cards. These efforts rarely lead to good leads but instead help you avoid real cold calls.  
  • The numbers don’t add up. Today, a sales force is usually tracked by a computerized system of some kind, and it’s easy to pinpoint low call volumes.

Sales really is a numbers game. You must make a large number of calls to generate a fair amount of appointments or referrals. Then, only a certain percentage of the appointments actually become sales. Bottom line: sales people need to make calls.

Based on my experience, I offer the following five steps to conquering call reluctance:

  1. Do one-on-one and group role playing with sales team members. This gives you an opportunity to rehearse your approach, improve product knowledge and learn how to listen and speak effectively in a non-threatening environment.
  2. Use scripts with a successful track record. Having something tangible to start with – something already written down – usually decreases fear. Customize the script for the market you’re targeting.
  3. Offer potential customers a benefit you believe in. You’ve got to believe in what you’re selling and give customers a reason to see you.
  4. Start off with “warm” calls. Get some feedback and affirmation from someone you’ve done business with recently. Then, move on to your list of cold calls.
  5. Have a purposeful goal when you start each morning. This gets back to the number of calls you need to make in order to generate the sales you want. Then, don’t get sidetracked by prepping or paperwork. Just do it.

If you’re interested in learning more about overcoming call reluctance, I recommend the book, The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance by Dudley and Goodson.