It has been a long time selling these silly machines called copiers. It has been great to have customers who have become friends and have a job that has allowed me to grow personally as well as professionally. In this industry I have learned some key things that have helped me in other parts of my life.
- No matter how sincere they seem, most people do not want information, but comfort. This is going to sound like I am judging, but I really am not. People will call after getting a quote and ask if maybe they should be getting the 50 page per minute rather than the 40 page per minute we recommended. They are comfortable enough to ask, but not comfortable enough to buy based on our initial recommendation. Our job isn’t to convince them that 40 pages a minute was fast enough, but to find out why 50 just became the new standard. Sometimes it is because another sales rep with another company asked, “can a copier that only does 40 pages a minute really work for your office?” — They crept some doubt in. Ultimately, it is our job to work with copier buyers so they feel comfortable and have a copier with the best specs for their budget. If we forget that comfort is critical, we’ll insist we are correct in our recommendations and confirm their doubts about our offering in the first place.
- No one wants to buy a copier, it’s always a dreaded kind of purchase, much like credit card processing. I think the reason for this attitude is because the sales reps in both are so aggressive. Always trying to trick decision makers into appointments they aren’t interested in having. If you get burned enough times in a sales process you try and avoid it.
- The tougher the initial exterior, the nicer the person generally ends up being. Whenever I am talking to someone about their copier, maybe they called in, it is always interesting that the person who I thought was rude or short or demanding often end up being my nicest and best customers. It seems that when they are buying, they are testing. They want to feel comfortable (see 1) and they make the process a bit miserable at first to weed out the sales reps that promise the world and don’t work hard for their business.
I guess, I believe we are all people trying to do our jobs, get fair deals that favor us a little and work with those we like. If we feel like we are being taken advantage of, we either push back or find someone else to work with. I am no different here. I have had customers that I have bent over backwards for, bringing them loaner equipment, helping them get a lemon swapped, getting them some free ink and then they ask why they have to pay for the freight on the $200 toner I just bought them… that’s generally when I would push back… we all want to know our efforts and our business relationship is valued.
I suppose what I have learned from people who have bought copiers from me is that customers are valuable and need to be treated like they matter and not just taken for granted.