In The Trenches With The Office Equipment Dealer “S.A.L.E.S. Success”8 Nov, 2002 By: Tim Teasley imageSource
In The Trenches With The Office Equipment Dealer “S.A.L.E.S. Success”
There are as many "quick
success" sales methods on the market today as there are fad diets! This
article is not about sales gimmicks or quick sales tricks. It simply defines the
basic core competencies needed for long-term success in selling office
equipment, explored in a creative manner. It establishes a logical and
systematic approach to sales.
Each letter of the word
"SALES" holds a secret to the success of selling office equipment. The
acronym for the basic steps in the office equipment sales process is:
S - Study A - Activity L - Longevity
E - Enthusiasm S - Solutions
Each letter represents a key
component to understanding and achieving success in sales. Applying each
component is critical to mastering this method in your daily sales process and
being successful on a consistent basis.
STUDY - The
first letter S in the sales acronym represents "Study." Study refers
to the continuous learning that is required to stay current and alert to
products and sales conditions. You must know the products that you are selling!
It sounds very elementary, yet it is amazing how many sales representatives do
not know the products that they sell. Most people would prefer to watch TV and
goof off rather than commit to the hard work of continuously improving their
product knowledge through study. Nevertheless, technology is constantly
changing, so your selling strategies must follow suit.
The best method of learning how
office equipment actually works is through hands-on experience. It takes
discipline to read and work through a user manual. However, the rewards exceed
the time and effort spent when you are in front of a prospect and you are truly
knowledgeable about the product you are selling. Sales representatives who are
knowledgeable about the products they sell are better equipped to meet their
customers' needs based on that customer's application of the equipment. The days
of just selling a photocopier as a "box" are gone. No longer are
successful vacuum cleaner salespeople your dealership's best source of
recruitment! Office equipment is now much more complex. Photocopiers are
digital, which means connectivity and communication issues must be contended
with on a daily basis. In addition to their sales skills, today's sales
representatives must be computer literate and have a clear understanding of
In today's highly competitive
market, successful sales representatives must also study their competitors.
Questions must continuously be answered such as, "What advertising medium
are they using?" and "How are they selling their products?"
In the rapidly changing arena of
office equipment, studying the industry is extremely important, as well. This
includes reading trade magazines and attending industry and manufacturer
tradeshows. The more you know, the more qualified you are to sell!
ACTIVITY - The
letter A in the sales acronym represents "Activity." I have heard it
said that the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary!
The fact of the matter is, selling is hard work and requires true commitment.
Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM, was quoted as saying, "The way to
succeed is to double your failure rate!" It is a fact that you are not
going to win every deal. However, it is also a fact that you are going to win
some deals. That is the nature of sales.
Continuous improvement in sales is
also about what you do, not just what you know. Transform what you study into
your routines. Sales representatives do not get paid for studying. They get paid
for the results of their actions. It is one thing to have the knowledge. It is
quite another to consistently put that knowledge into action.
The activity goal of sales
representatives should be to maximize the amount of time spent in front of
prospective customers. To achieve this goal, first evaluate your schedule to
determine what unproductive activities you currently engage in during working
hours. What are your time thieves: idle chitchat, web surfing, leisurely coffee
breaks, or unnecessary personal telephone calls during prime selling time?
Second, evaluate which activities generate the most money. Are you involving
yourself in activities that place you in front of a prospective customer,
staying current on the applications that are hottest in the market, and selling
models of equipment that generate higher gross margins? As you reach toward your
goals, be consistent in your activity. With perseverance and commitment, you
will be successful!
LONGEVITY - The
letter L in the sales acronym represents "Longevity." The most
successful sales representatives have been in the industry and the same market
for more than three years. Their experience and their customer contacts provide
them with the benefits of repeat business. Since the photocopier business is a
repeat business, plan for the product life cycle, which is generally three
years. Selling is about creating and cultivating relationships, as well as
matching your product to the customer's needs. Longevity provides you with a
well-established and expanded customer/contact base. Knowing your customers and
maintaining those relationships is essential to your long-term success.
One sure principle to longevity is
to under promise and over deliver. This principle assures repeat business.
Integrity is a must when building relationships. At times, preserving integrity
may require admitting a mistake and walking away from a deal when the sale is
not mutually beneficial. I have witnessed a few customers leave our dealership
for a competitor's unrealistic promises. I have also witnessed those same
customers return to our dealership when those promises were not fulfilled.
ENTHUSIASM - The
letter E in the sales acronym represents "Enthusiasm." Sales
representatives must be convinced that the world is a better place because of
them. Major world decisions are made in seconds because we can copy, fax, scan
and print instantaneously! Enthusiasm helps to create a positive attitude.
Combined with hard work, a positive attitude becomes the catalyst for producing
successful sales representatives!
People enjoy purchasing from sales
representatives who obviously enjoy what they do. Enthusiasm is kept high by
celebrating your victories. People celebrate in different ways. Some celebrate
by placing extra money in the offering plate on Sunday. Some celebrate by buying
an extra beer for a friend. Curiously, most of the sales representatives I know
buy the extra beer. (Perhaps this should be addressed in another article!)
SOLUTIONS - The
final letter S in the sales acronym represents "Solutions." Business
decision-makers are not just buying a product; they are solving a problem or
fulfilling a need. Successful sales representatives learn their products'
special applications and fulfill customers' needs with the best products
available. They learn to convert their knowledge of the equipment into an
application that best benefits of the customer.
Success in sales comes from
repetition of these basic steps in a continuous, ongoing manner. Proper
utilization of the acronym SALES can serve as an action checklist in training or
as a tool for coaching sales representatives to be successful.
If a sales representative is
struggling, before exercising disciplinary actions, have the representative
analyze the SALES acronym. Evaluate the problem and assist the sales
representative in resolving it. Determine what component of the process is
missing or needs repair by asking the following questions: Is more study needed?
Is more activity needed? Is more experience needed through longevity? Is more
enthusiasm needed? Is more focus needed on solutions?
Identify the weakness and work the
problem. As my daughter recently reminded me, "People are more important
than things!" Encouragement and guidance can turn a non-performing employee
into a truly successful salesperson!
Do not wait! Apply the SALES acronym
to your company's sales methods. Identify the most critical sales processes you
need to be successful and put an action plan together. You will be glad you did!
Now, go sell a photocopier and celebrate your victory!
Teasley is a CPA with over 14 years of experience in the copier/office equipment
industry. He is the Senior Vice President of Operations at Systel, an office
equipment dealership in Fayetteville, North Carolina. His email address is