new opportunities in green

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 31-10-2007

Although my generation ignored the importance of recycling, current generations have seen the importance of being more earth friendly.  Although I sometimes get annoyed at the in-your-face tactics by some of those who promote green initiatives I do understand and appreciate how this effects the world we live in.  Therein lies the opportunity for sales people to offer more than just another product to be sold to their prospects and customers.  There are many ways in which companies and small businesses can help operate in a more earth friendly “green” environment.  A simple internet search will provide much information on products that are made from recycled materials and what office products contribute to energy savings measures. 

Years ago most office workers had a typewriter and copier that used about 600 watts of energy whereas today a six person office may have six computers, three printers, a large colume copier or color copier and a fax that totals a whopping 7,000 watts.  That kind of energy usage can be reduced significantly by utilizing products such as multifunction printers and more efficient LCD monitors instead of CRT displays.  Also recommend that customers look for the Energy Star logo on their new equipment purchases.  An Energy Star printer can cut a printer’s electricity usage by as much as 65%.  Encourage customers to recycle old office equipment and computers.  Create your own custom green earth initiative to share with customers and prospects and show them how they can save money, be more energy efficient and help the cause.  Your supply catalog is full of recycled products, recycling bins and other products that can help.  If you are a United dealer you can sign up for the Link360 Recycling program that provides pre-paid return boxes and envelopes to return inkjet and laser toners for recycling.  A laser toner cartridge contains as much as 4 quarts of petroleum required to manufacture the plastic hull alone.  Another option is to create a small static cling label the customer could place on their door identifying them as a participant in your green earth initiative.  I’m sure you can come up with some other ideas to try.  If you think of something different be sure to leave your comments here and share with others.  I’m creating a Green Earth Project page on the company web site to help our customers go green.  Good luck with yours!

final show report

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Don on 26-10-2007

Hands down the consumer products show was a tremendous success.  Over three weeks have passed since the September 21st event and our sales people are still taking orders for products seen at the event and fielding requests for more info or demo’s on products from the show.  I tried to keep a track of the orders resulting from the show but there has literally been so much business resulting from it that I cannot keep track of them all.  That’s a good problem so I’m not complaining.  We had a good mix of office products, breakroom foods and supplies, janitorial products and furniture and also had advertising specialty exhibitors.  The ad-specialty guys did a great job and one of my reps turned in another order for embroidered laptop cases.  We have entered many orders for apparel items and numerous bags of various styles.  We have sold more ad-specialty products in the last three weeks than the previous 9 months of this year.  Zip-Notes was another new product demonstrated at the show and everyone loves it.  This little company has a cool product and we have since learned it can be screen printed and have already sold some of these custom imprinted products.  We totally blew out the warehouse inventory for Zip-Notes and are about to start buying direct.  All this as a direct result of the show.

I have received many personal accolades for my 8 months of work, planning and executing the show and to all those I humbly thank you.  Please know that credit is also due to my event committee members who supported my ideas and were there during all those planning meetings and without whose help I could never have gotten everything accomplished.  Thanks also to my “elves” who stuffed envelopes and pasted hundreds of mailing labels on invitations.  Annette, Susan, Terry and Donna, you guys are awesome and I sincerely appreciate everything you did.  Company wide support was good and our fearless leader was all smiles at the show.  He was thrilled to see the vendor support and the guests enthusiasm! 

In closing the show has had multiple effects.  A boost in sales revenue and account penetration is very obvious and is continuing.  The amazing thing is the change in employee morale and the effect the show had on our customers.  Excitement is obvious when manufacture’s reps are telling other reps that didn’t come about how much they missed by not being there.  But customers are calling that didn’t come to the show and telling us that they have heard stories about how good the show was and next year they are going to take time off from their job, personal time off, just to make sure they don’t miss the next show.  That says volumes about the quality and success of the overall event. 

shredders 101

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 22-10-2007

With the heightened awareness of  identity theft many people now look to shred their unwanted documents, mail and credit cards.  I have been selling shredders for over 13 years, long before identity theft became a prominent headline.  Combining todays modern computers and printers, etc.,  it isn’t hard for even a tech junkie like myself to produce professional looking badges, checks or any other kind of document necessary.  The No. 1 rule for everyone in every office or household today should be SHRED EVERYTHING!  It doesn’t matter how harmless the junk mail may seem don’t take any risks, shred everything that comes in that has your name on it.  Same thing applies to businesses, shred everything.

Years ago the only shredder available was a “strip cut” shredder, sometimes referred to as spaghetti shred.  These shredded strips were typically about 1/4″ in width and as long as the paper that was fed into it.  So if you were shredding computer paper the strips were as long as your printouts.  During the Iran hostage crisis the embassy personnel shredded all sorts of classified materials under the impression that this would destroy the information.  Instead the Iranians brought in people that spent countless hours reassembling the shredded documents in their entirety.  That led to the development of the cross cut shredder, also called confetti-cut. 

The confetti-cut shredder has been upgraded now to a new line called micro-shred.  You can still find strip shredders, confetti-cut and now there is micro fine shredders.  These micro shred machines have an average shred size of  1/32″ x 5/32″ or .8mm x 4.2mm.  The issue in selling these machines is sales people don’t explain the differences in the machines and especially the importance of the number of sheets-per-pass.  I see people buying confetti cut shredders that will only shred 4-6 pages per pass and they will not perform to even the lowest of standards.  If you were to go to a stack of papers and pick up a handful, the average quantity studies have shown is that you would have picked up about 17 sheets of paper.  When you shred an envelope you automatically have 2 sheets of paper, not to mention it is usually heavier than the 20lb sheet the machine is rated for.  The average envelopes contains 3 sheets of paper that is either bi-folded (2 folds) or tri-folded (3 folds).  If the sheets are tri-folded you now have the equivilant of 9 sheets of paper plus the envelope totaling 11 sheets.  If you just purchased a shredder rated for 4-6 sheets per pass you wasted your money!  I personally use a Fellowes PowerShred C420C and it confetti shreds up to 24 sheets per pass and I have junk mail that nearly meets those specs.  If I do, then so do you and everyone else.  I’m not saying that everyone needs a $1000+ shredder but the cheap sub-$100 shredders on the market today aren’t worth the carton they come in.  If you are going to sell shredders then suggest a model that will shred at least 12-14 pages minimum.  This page count should be your starting point to the machine you suggest.  I also recommend that you invest in a shredder to use for a demo unit.  I used to keep a machine that would shred 17-19 pages, had its own waste basket and came with castors that made it easy to roll around the office.  I would leave the machine on demo for two weeks and sold the prospect a shredder nearly 90% of the time.  I kept two or three different models on hand for different types of clients. The machine sold itself nearly every time!

One last thing of critical importance.  OIL your shredder!  Sorry for the caps, I hate to shout but I cannot express enough the importance of telling people to please oil your shredder at least once per month.  It’s very easy or you can buy handy oiling sheets that come prepackaged so you don’t get oil on your hands.  But if done right you won’t get any oil on your hands anyway!  When I was out making regular client calls I always kept a bottle of shredder oil in my SUV so when I arrived at a clients office that had purchased a shredder from me I would take it in and offer to oil their shredder for them just as a value-added service.  Most times when they saw how easy it was they would tell me they could do it themselves.  I rarely ever discounted the price of the shredder oil (or the shredder bags) either because it was an maintenance item.  There are a lot of great shredder manufacturers on the market such as Fellowes, HSM, Olympia, Intimus, Dahle, Martin Yale, GBC, and MBM.  Educate yourself on selling this very necessary product.  It’s fun and the equipment sells itself.  Good Luck!

more factoids

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Don on 19-10-2007

This months edition of Office Solutions Magazine had some interesting info.

  • Talking loud in an office ranked #1 most annoying habit
  • 32% of U.S. workers ranked talking loud in the office as the most annoying workplace habit
  • Annoying cell phone ring tones and speakerphones ranked #2 & #3 most annoying respectively
  • 32.1% of large U.S. companies (over 1000 employees) employ personnel to read outbound employee email
  • 45.5% of those employers have disciplined an employess for violating email policies in the past year
  • 62% of small businesses ranked “retaining employees” as their No.1 employee benefit objective
  • 39% of small business employees say they are satisfied with the benefits offererd by their employer

In other words, talk softly, turn off your freakin cell phone, don’t send out personal e-mails from the office and tell the boss you want more vacation time! :)

Buyer Statistics

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 17-10-2007

While working on my marketing plan for 2008 for the company I ran across some interesting statistics relating to our OP Industry.

  • 63% of women prefer to order their office supplies online
  • 84% of office products buyers are women
  • 72% of women would consider it a high value if their supplier provided collecting and recycling of their waste supplies, toners, etc.
  • 63% of buyers would prefer to use environmentally friendly office products
  • 89% of buyers recognize name brand products
  • 71% of buyers dissatisfied buyers would switch suppliers rather than complain about poor service
  • 51% think computer consumables selection process is confusing
  • 67% of office furniture purchased by women
  • 72% of buyers utilize color in organizing their office

Can you draw any parallels in how you do business?  Are we really directing our marketing materials to the right group of buyers?

Max Rumors of Wal-Mart purchase

Filed Under (The Competition) by Don on 16-10-2007

Good grief, I take a week to go fishing at the Outer Banks of North Carolina and learn that there are substantial rumors that Wally-World, oops sorry, Wal-Mart is in process of buying Office Max.  Of course $2.5 billion is small change for the retail giant but this purchase does have some merit.  Of course this is rumor as far as I know since I don’t have any hard facts or proof.  I do wonder what will happen to the Boise contract business portion of the purchase.  I would guess Wal-Mart would sell that part off to Staples or Depot and concentrate on the retail element that they know very well.  Wal-Mart knows transactional business very well whereas we independents know the relationship (consultative) business much better.  That area is where we will do very well.  The core SMB companies of up to 100 employees is where most independents concentrate their most earnest efforts. 

Corporate Express still suffers by loosing sales people in droves just as Office Max is laying off people in droves.  I have come to the realization that these guys just don’t get it.  The “it” is the importance of your people.  It’s your people, stupid, that makes your company succeed.  Without dedicated and talented employees you have nothing, will accomplish nothing and will be doomed to fail. 

W.B. Mason knows this very well.  Why else do you think they have experienced a 27% growth margin this year?  Strong leadership coupled with vision and direction.  A combination destined for success.  The Masonville team has increased their business this year to an incredible $622 million.  Their goal is to reach $1.5 billion by 2012.  They are well on their way and the Mason team of over 600 sales reps are likely to make that happen.

Congratulations everyone at W.B. Mason for your hard work and dedication!

survey’s and ideas

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Don on 05-10-2007

I know, I’ve been slack and haven’t been writing here much lately.  I’ve been busy with analyzing the after effects of the show.  The orders and customer calls continue much to my delight.  I was following up on my guest survey cards and find it interesting that even though our sales team does a pretty good job of selling many of our customers didn’t know we sold certain categories of products such as JanSan, Ad Specialty, printing.  I guess I’m a little surprised at this because I assumed that we make a concerted effort to sell all our products on a continuous basis but as the survery results show, that isn’t the case.

Now, of course, I’m asked what am I going to do in the marketing department to increase sales over the next period.  Marketing alone isn’t a fix for poor sales, there is only so much I can do alone.  I am certain that there is more business in nearly every account we service that we don’t get.  These other lost products are areas of higher profit margins if we can find a way to be more effective at account penetration.  That is really what it is all about.  Are we really doing an effective job of asking the right questions and from the right people?  I’ve received a lot of feedback about new products these customers didn’t know about.  But the reality is some of these products were not new at all.  They have been around for a year or more!  What the heck are these salespeople doing?  Are they just order takers?  Perhaps they are not being managed effectively.  Either way the survey feedback was specific enough to tell me that we are not doing a good job of introducing new products and new catagories to our client base.  As for promoting new products I do have some ideas for new ways to promote new products on our web site but I expect they will be met with a sour note of disagreement.  I’m thinking about video marketing of new products on the web site and via email.  It wouldnt be that difficult.  In fact I could do it in such a way as to make that service available to other dealers.  They could use the video messages to send out to customers via email or place customized one on their web sites.  What do you think?

Well, I’m off this next week for vacation.  The family and I are going to the outer banks of North Carolina near Cape Hatteras for some much earned rest and some time spent fishing.  I appreciate your time spent reading here and please share your thoughts and ideas!  I’d love to hear from you.