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A Practical Guide for Selling Solutions

21 Jan, 2010 By: Carla Nasse imageSource

A Practical Guide for Selling Solutions

It’s getting tougher every day to make a buck as an office equipment dealer
or sales rep.  Margins are getting squeezed from all directions.  Customers are
demanding more.  There’s more competition than ever.  It’s taking more than just
“feeds and speeds” to make a sale.  Can you afford to sell on price alone?  

Let’s start with a couple of assumptions. It’s understood that dropping the
price is not the most effective way to close a sale.  That  can lead to a price
war & start a downward spiral until all your efforts are wasted.  Second, we
know that the sun has set on the days of the hardware-only sale.  Dealers are
now widening their offerings to retain customer share & profits. They are
looking for ways to keep their operating expenses down; and the software
solutions that are available today are a way to do that without impacting
margins.   Last, but not least, software will help dealers sell their/your
hardware. If you haven’t gotten to the last assumption as fact yet, it may be
because you haven’t sold any software. 

Solutions for the Software Beginner

If you’re serious about your career in the office equipment industry, take a
basic IT class.  A fundamental understanding is necessary to be able to talk to
the people you need in your corner in order to get the sale.  If your dealership
has a systems engineer, that’s great.  What happens when the SE goes on
vacation?  Do you really want to hold up your deal until the SE gets back?  If
it helps, think of it as network “feeds and speeds.”  How can you play the game
if you don’t know the field on which the game is being played?

Next, take advantage of your manufacturers’ sales managers.  They know their
products very well and can help you learn how to approach customers with a
software solution.       When I first began in this business, my sales manager
from the manufacturer was instrumental in my success.  He went on calls with me
and helped me through those first couple of rough months as I was getting
started.   (Thank you, Russell.)  Your manufacturer’s sales rep can help you
with the right questions to ask that will best highlight the features of their
products.  They can help you with what to look for when at a customer’s site.

Use your resources.  Whether it’s an adult education class at the local
community college, books from the library or info from your manufacturer’s sales
rep, take advantage of the resources!  None of these impact the margin in your
sale.  These steps can only add to your margins and make you “mo’ money.”

Solutions for the Dealership Owner

Your reps sell what they are paid to sell.  A Sales Compensation Plan should
include a written statement of goals and expectations for sales performance with
stated payments for meeting and exceeding those goals.  A good compensation plan
is written to motivate sales personnel to sell the products and services at
margins that align with the company’s goals.

That sounds pretty simple.  The problem comes in when the realization is made
that a comp plan can only be written after it’s been determined what the goals
are for the company.  A good comp plan is easily understood and directs the
sales efforts to match the company goals.  If you can survive on just hardware,
service and supply revenues, then write a comp plan that just rewards the sales
of hardware, service and supplies. It used to work.  Yet margins are getting
squeezed.  So if you know that a dealership can no longer survive on hardware
alone, how are you really going to set the stage for your reps to sell software
to go with the hardware that once sustained your dealership?

Find the software manufacturers that provide great support.  Will they assist
with your installs?  Will they DO your installs for you?  What kind of support
will you get to train your reps?  How long have they been in business?  Once you
find the right software manufacturer, get it in your price book and in your comp

It will take some work on the part of the owner and the reps to get started
with selling solutions well.  But look at the alternative...decreasing margins,
rep turnover and lost sales.  Get started now before it’s too late!

COUNT DOWN to Top 10 Excuses for Not Selling Solutions

            10.       I don’t know enough about it.

            9.         I’m not an IT person.

            8.         I’ve never sold it before.

            7.         I might get asked a question and not know the answer.

            6.         My dealership doesn’t have an IT person to support it.

            5.         It doesn’t count toward my quota.

            4.         It’s outside my area of expertise.

            3.         I don’t have my CDIA+ certification.

            2.         I didn’t know we had a problem that needed a solution.

            1.         I don’t get paid to sell solutions!

Carla Nasse, CDIA+ is Manager, Channel Development, at Doculex, a leading
document management software company. She has more than 20 years of experience
in the industry. At cnasse@doculex.com
and (863) 297.3691, ext. 263.  Visit
for more information.

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