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ISM Article

Back To Basics

12 Jan, 2007 By: Eric Stavola, Witt Company imageSource

Back To Basics

It’s the New Year, thus, it is that time for goal setting, resolutions, and
new beginnings. In this article I want to focus on getting back to basics by
focusing on the art of fact finding and analysis of your potential customers’
needs. In our fast paced, value-added industry, it is easy to forget the basics
that have made many of us successful. In sports, we always hear coaches talk
about getting "back to basics" when their team needs to get back on track, and
this is no different for dealers. In life and in the copier world, so many times
the difference between winning and losing a deal comes down to the little
things. Our industry, as a whole, is driven by three key concepts: total cost of
operation (TCO), technology, and ease of integration into a client’s existing
network infrastructure. On every single deal, one if not all of these three key
concepts comes into play. However, more often then not, our customer focuses on
price, price, price, and not the intangibles that you, your company or your
products bring to the table. So how can we change this? Get back to basics.
Start asking the right questions ahead of time to uncover the needs and pains of
your potential customers. Just how did sales reps sell the fax option when it
first came out? They basically asked clients, "What are you doing for faxing?”
So now I ask you…



People love to talk about themselves. Want to make a great first impression?
All you need to do is simply listen. People do not care how much we know, until
they know how much we care! Ask them:

  • So what do you hear from employees about their solutions needs?


  • Can I walk around your office to get a better understanding of your work


Instead of doing that two hour demo that will review every single function of
the copier and, without a doubt, bore your client to tears, ask the following

  • What three factors are you looking for in a copier?


  • Is price important to you?


  • If you had a wish list of your perfect copier what would it be?


On average there are eight printers sold to every one copier. HP has shipped
well over 200 million printers which is approximately two printers for every
household in the U.S. So needless to say there is huge potential in printer
placement. Ask:

  • Do you have a printer fleet strategy?


  • Do you know how much network traffic is printer related?


  • Do you get a lot of help desk calls regarding printers?


  • Have you considered added security for your printers?


  • What is your volume of your HP Devices?


  • Do you use green bar paper?


  • Do you use dot matrix printers?


  • Do you print or mail forms, invoices, or statements?


  • Do you use multi-part forms?


As we all know,  security is big hot button for IT/MIS. Be sure to question:

  • How secure are your copiers?


  • How do your copiers and printers fit into your security schema?


  • Would you like more security with network devices?


Printing costs are the largest undocumented cost in corporate America. PC
magazine ran an article a few years back stating that at $22 per quarter-ounce,
a Hewlett-Packard color ink-jet cartridge is more expensive by weight, than
imported Russian caviar. Yet, it still is not a main focus for our customers to
grasp control over their printing. So put it in a different way to you potential
client by asking them:

  • Do you understand that some of the most expensive liquids on earth is used in
    your company everyday?


  • Do you currently track copies on your devices?


  • Do you currently track prints on your devices?


  • Is their any of your copy or print activity conducted on behalf of your


  • Do you manually collect meter reads on your current equipment?


  • What percentage of printers/MFPs are connected to the network?


  • What percentages are connected to only one CPU


Getting our customers to truly utilize the features and functions of our
equipment needs to be a focus. If we create a need, then we can create a want.
Scanning instead of faxing is a great way of accomplishing this through
questions like:

  • What percentage of your fax recipients are able to receive e-mails?


  • How much are you spending on fax phone charges per month?


  • Are you faxing double-sided documents?


  • Do you copy one side prior to faxing? 


  • What do you do with that copy once it is faxed?



Remember that document management should encompass the entire document
workflow. Explain to your potential customer that you want to analyze the life
cycle of paper workflow in their current workplace. In short,  paper moves
differently in every company so what questions should we ask to uncover this

  • How much employee time is spent processing paper?


  • How many file cabinets do you have?

  • Why do you keep the file? What is its business purpose?


  • How many documents do you file daily? Monthly?


  • What is your system for filing documents?


  • How long is your document retrieval process?


  • What happens if a document is lost or misfiled?


  • How many people access stored documents?


  • Do offsite employees need access to files?


  • Do you feel there is lost time searching for documents?


  • Do you use offsite storage?


We sometimes do not think about backing up data until it is lost. Every
company should have a specific plan and you can help by asking:

  • Do you have disaster recovery plan?


  • How are you currently backing up data?


  • Do you currently have an on-site server for document storage?


  • As one can see, basic questions can provide a pathway to  other services,
    opportunities and sales. Getting

    back to the basics can help us focus on our
    customers needs and lead us into the solutions sale.

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