Jennifer’s Words of Wisdom about “flogging copiers”
- January 4, 2016
- virginia jack
- 2 Comments
Today is Monday, January 4th, 2016 and I’m feeling rather nostalgic. I started “flogging copiers”, as a neighbour with a lovely way with words once put it, on Monday, January 4th, 1984.
Ah, 1984. What a time it was. A copier was just a copier, any print colour was available so long as it was black and fax machines were being introduced to the marketplace. I was freshly home from my big “post university trip down under”, as was the trend in the day. I was single, had my own place for the first time, and was excited to have a “real” job, even if it was selling copiers for the family business, a job that wasn’t exactly at the top of my Dream Job list.
Fast forward 32 years. I met my husband, Bob, shortly after I started selling copiers and we have 2 grown daughters plus 3 adorable grand children with more on the way, just to put the “32 year time-thing” in perspective.
And yes, I’m still in the copier business. In fact, I’ve sold literally thousands of copiers to thousands of business and organizations.
Copiers are now the hub of the office, fax machines are largely a thing of the past and almost every copier has colour capabilities. Of course, I could go on with the technical advances but that’s not the point of this post.
I’d like to pass on a little insight that I’ve gleaned over the years, whether from things I’m glad to have done or things I didn’t do but wish I had (I’ll leave it to the reader to figure out which is which).
- People purchase from people they like, not from those that know everything.
- People value honesty, integrity, promptness, and genuine care.
- Most people still appreciate proper grammar and spelling.
- If you lose a sale or customer, don’t take it personally. Be gracious, don’t get upset. Just keep in touch in your usual consistent, timely and friendly manner and before you know it, they’ll be in the market to upgrade again and they’ll probably choose you because you were classy (yes, it took me years to learn this one).
- If you have something negative to say to a customer, say it in person or on the phone. Do not put your negative words in writing … EVER … unless discussed verbally first and then noted in writing for the record. I call this the Bianca Principle since a classy woman named Bianca told this to me when I expressed my displeasure in a faxed memo after losing her company’s sizeable account. I was too embarrassed to call her for months, but after a year went by I called her, thinking she might have forgotten my memo. Her first words were “So, you’ve gotten over yourself? Good to hear from you.” I never forgot that one.
- Always respect the gatekeeper. They are just doing their job. I might have made more sales by being more aggressive in my efforts to “get past the receptionist” but it would have shortened my life and made me not like my job. (Perhaps I’m noting this since I just didn’t learn the skill but I don’t ever want to be thought of as one of those aggressive sales people… because I’m not.)
- Think long-term, even if you’re only in a job for the short term. If you’re good at your job and you like it, you might find you’re doing it for a very long time and the steps you take today have repercussions down the road. Reputations follow you, both good and bad.
- Be organized.
Keep in regular contact with existing customers.
Make cold calls daily to develop potential new customers.
If you keep in contact with customers, existing and future, in an organized manner and don’t burn bridges by writing nasty memos, you’ll find that with the passage of time your customer base expands exponentially, every 5 years to be precise as companies upgrade their office equipment every 5 years on average. (Please note that this won’t happen without the “organized” component. This is a bit of a work-in-progress for me.)
The copier business has been good to me. It has provided a good and steady income, an insight into pretty much every segment of the marketplace and I have made countless connections and business friends. It has lots of variety and has taught me about people, business and life. In fact, some may even call it a Dream Job after all, myself included.
Today is also the first day back at work after New Years and I’m looking forward to another year of “flogging copiers”.
(For my esteemed competition who may be reading this: No, I’m not retiring. I’m just being nostalgic and noting the day.)