Selling Value!

December 4, 2008

As sales people we all have heard that if you aren’t “selling solutions” you are going to starve. Copiers have become a commodity. If you doubt it just ask someone who is not in the industry “what type of copier do you have?” The answer will either be I don’t know, or I think it is a…, so much for brand loyalty. They all pretty much do the same thing, copy, print, fax, scan to email, scan to folder. So how do you separate yourself from the guy down the street. Please don’t say “lower price”, there will always be someone willing to go lower than you. And being the lowest price is a good way to become poor. You didn’t go in to sales to not make money.

That brings us back to what can you do to separate yourself. The conventional wisdom is to “sell solutions”, but that has become a trite phrase. Scanning to email is a function NOT a solution! So how do we make it a solution? My definition of a “true solutions sale” is a combination of hardware, software, and know how to solve a customers business problem. If it doesn’t solve a customer’s problem it is not a solution.

Last week I was speaking to a IT manager who was frustrated with the Canon equipment that they had previously purchased. The Purchaser handles the last acquisition of equipment and price was his main concern. So he didn’t buy Canon’s Universal Send (Push-Scan). He didn’t see the value in it. But that’s not his fault. It’s our fault because my previous sales person didn’t sell him value. He was just happy to get a multi-machine deal, and he got it, but we ended up with a very frustrated IT manager. So they brought me in figuring that I could “speak his language”. We started out by sitting down in a conference room and letting him talk (sometime vent) about how frustrated he was with his limited scanning functionality. I asked him the key question, what is it you want to do, from a business point of view. The IT manager lit up, he said we need to be able to send paper documents, sometimes client records to our nurses in the field. I said GREAT! We can set your equipment up with Canon Universal Send (an option that they didn’t originally purchase) which will allow you to scan to email. He said we have a Hosted Email server (from Verizon). A few years back that would have been a problem but now we have a number of ways we can send an authorize email (smtp auth. or pop before smtp) we generally  have no problem setting up Scan to email through a hosted server anymore.

I went on to tell him you also need the encryption option for Canon’s Universal Send so you meet your HIPPA requirements. I reminded him that email was not a secure medium. Now I really had his attention. He said thank you so much for bringing that up. He knew he had HIPPA requirements but he had not tied it in to the discussion of this technology. By encrypting the PDFs when they scan to email they can both deliver the patient records to their nurses in the field and meet their HIPPA requirements, now that’s what I call a solution sale!

What is the outcome of selling this way. Do you think that Toshiba, or Sharp, or Panasonic are going to come in behind me and say we have a cheaper copier!!! So what! We are no longer comparing apples to apples, not in this customer’s mind. And now the IT manager is our champion inside the company, because we helped him accomplish what he wanted to accomplish, We helped him look good! Do you think he will want to do business with us again? Do you think he will be more likely to take our recommendations and suggestions in the future? Yah, me too! Even if another dealer or the dreaded manufacturers’ sales rep comes in and says “we can do that too!” Again, so what. We listened to the customer’s frustration and provide them with a genuine solution that solved their business problem. We aren’t telling them we “can” do it, or we can match someone else’s solution. We “Have done it”, and well done is better than well said!

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh


One comment

  1. Wow.

    The sales person should be sent back to the re-training camp.

    I can imagine that the selling environment was competitive and the push-scan option brought price up – so the sales rep didn’t put it in, or bring it up because the “prospect” didn’t mention it and he accepted price as the only requirement.

    You did a good job on recovery, but the rep should have established the relationship with the IT person as well as the PA – lazy.

    At the very least, you should have been brought in on the deal early – that is if he couldn’t qualify it himself.

    Oh, and when I was with IKON, I believe the Ricoh’s shipped with push scan – I know the HP’s do…

    tsk tsk tsk

    PS – How are they processing prescription requests from the nurses stations/floors/clinics to the pharmacy?

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