Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Division Line

Many salesmen in this industry (and most others) are just that. Salesmen. An annoying breed of well dressed double talking magicians whose sole purpose is to generate money for the corporate machine and of course, themselves. They move from prospect to prospect in a veil of smoke and mirrors which to some is rather enticing. Truth be told many of these creatures are quite good at coming off as saints while actually perpetrating a far more sinister role in reality.

There are also those who are more trustworthy and noble folks who while reflecting said positive attributes still do only one thing. Sell...

As a salesmen (or rather a "business oriented relationship development specialist") I too share in the responsibilities of selling. What separates myself and other more noble people within the craft from the big boys are the other aspects of my work which have lead to the development of my character as it pertains to my position as a salesman.

Here at Expert Laser Services our sales team has had to take on some roles that many salesmen in larger companies would not have (additional duties that many of those mentioned in the first paragraph of this post would scoff at).

Being a smaller company, each of our salesmen are tasked with setting up new accounts with toner for each and every end user, providing each printer with a cleaning and or simple maintenance with our own two hands. There are times when we have go out into the field and do monthly cleanings and maintenance for large organizations ourselves. These jobs sometimes take one or multiple days out of our time that would normally be spent on finding new customers and trying to build new relationships.

These are the kind of experiences you may be hard pressed to find within the history of salesmen who work for the "big boys" or who tread upon the earth with that certain level of ego in regards to what their responsibilities "should be".

While I do not claim to enjoy doing monthly cleanings or simple maintenance procedures, jobs which can be lengthy, at times dirty and somewhat redundant, I will say that performing such duties have helped make me a better salesman. Having to execute these tasks myself has given me a great respect for those on our team who do these jobs day in and day out and help me to communicate with our service team better. These experiences also help me to get to know my customers from the CEO to the receptionist and every end user in between, better than I would have known them otherwise.

Whether its delivering toner, removing a paper jam, cleaning a machine, replacing rollers or so on and so forth, having to take part in these responsibilities (which are shunned by the bravado of some salesmen) plays an integral part in the molding of sales professionals who really care.

Take note of where you stand, for there is an invisible division line dividing those who wish to manipulate you and or situations connected to you in a way that places prosperity not on your shoulders as the customer but on their own, their focus being on success only as it pertains to them. On the other side of this division line are those who truly want to help you, folks who will take time from the chasing of their own gains to take care of your needs. Those who will work diligently not only to feed their own success but rather to fuel yours.

Indeed, there is a division line drawn in the sand.

When it comes down to the people who are supposed to be helping you, I would ask yourself...

On which side are they standing?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Debunking The "Paperless Office" Myth

On this past Saturday afternoon I read this from Ken Stewart on linkedin:

Answer Charlie's Question: "How is the MPS market growing if its goal is to reduce prints?"

To which I answered:

It's not really about reducing prints so much as it is about reducing the cost of the prints. If being a print Nazi was what MPS was about (and some MPS providers are just that to their customers end users) then this industry would be futile.

This got me thinking...

Since April I have connected with about 300 businesses. If nothing else I have been able to garner one valuable insight. Other than maybe within the context of the medical field and or folks involved with law or government offices, the paperless office is at best a myth.

Out of the 300 aforementioned businesses only one person in one of those organizations had actually made a shift to the paperless office and they still had a printer... "just in case".

I have found that even the people who like the idea of a paperless office become a bit more reserved when all of a sudden they ask for a print out from their receptionist and there is not one available because they are now "paperless".

The simple fact of the matter is that human beings who work in an office setting (sans some atypical types) have developed an emotional connection with printed documents (whether they realize it or not). I can't tell you how many people I know who print e-mails to show other folks the e-mail, which of course could have been done without the printing of said e-mail.

To illustrate the concept further I would like to point to a less office oriented form of print. Books. Unlike newspapers whose fate seems to be teetering between extinction and an existence of novelty and antiquity, books have not wavered in popularity as much despite their digital nemesis.

I propose that this is due to the emotional power that books have over people. There is a strong esoteric pleasure in the indulgence and enjoyment of the cover art, back cover description and the feeling of a book in hand. Not unlike the lost art of buying a band's album for the same reasons, the book has yet to be fully replaced by e-readers and other technological offerings and while I know there is a huge difference between a good book and a simple office memo, the latter still has a bit of a connection to the emotional power of the former.

With that being said, I say that the "paperless office" is nothing more than futurist mythology that will never be...

Although, depending upon what the future holds for our freedoms in any government I suppose the possibility of the paperless office could manifest within the context of the unsavory power structure of a dictatorship (either within a company or, God forbid... a nation).

I suppose time will tell... What do you think?