Lately there’s been some great advice going around that salespeople need to be meeting with C-level executives to score the substantial contracts that make MPS and MNS worth your while. But to score these prime meetings takes know-how.
Today’s volatile economic environment makes it more critical than ever for Office Equipment Dealers and MPS and MNS Providers to minimize operating costs and generate increased lead volume at the lowest possible cost to maximize sales results by closing deals quickly at reasonable margins.
Most dealers tend to be effective at meeting with prospects with 10-50 employees by leveraging their local relationship in their markets. However the greatest potential lies with qualified meetings with CFOs, CIOs and high-level executives at Mid-Major Companies with 75-750 employees where engagements meet the typical minimum threshold of 2 MFPs and 10+ Printers with monthly billing cycles of $1,000+ per month.
When managed correctly, these prospects, especially the ones with 20 or more printers, tend to be easier to sell at lucrative profit margins and produce an extremely satisfied client! These meetings are “The Promised Land” everyone enters into the MPS and MNS space for.
The challenge is how to approach these prime prospects in the most cost-effective manner. As we all know, the best way to find these new opportunities is through customer and personal referrals. Nothing beats a warm introduction and the instant credibility that comes along with it. Networking and relationship building are also great ways to find them; but even then, you can only go so far with any one strategy. Cold calling is an essential piece of any top performing company’s arsenal; however, it’s hard, tedious work that requires know how, talent and perseverance.
When the term cold calling is used many people imagine the old fashioned “shot gun” approach in which companies canvas large numbers of prospects in hopes of catching a few great leads, and that of course is outdated, not to mention time-consuming, costly and detrimental to the morale of the sales force. A much more targeted approach is needed in order to identify qualified companies and reach the key decision-makers capable of making the purchase.
The greatest potential lies with CFOs, CIOs and high-level administrators at Mid-Major (50-750 employees) where equipment transactions typically start at $20,000 if the whole account is taken down; the true average is closer to $35,000. These transactions despite popular belief are no harder to close than an $8,000 Copier Transaction and usually have fewer competitors involved, and are rarely a “Price Decision”!
Visiting each of these businesses in person lends a more personal approach, but is very costly and does not use outside sales representatives’ time wisely. A more effective method for lead generation in these markets is phone prospecting, combined with canvassing local businesses in the vicinity of appointments completed in the field. However, without the right tools such as updated calling lists including detailed information on UCC Filing or lease termination dates for MFP Dealers, as well as the type of business, number of employees, number of Printers for MPS Providers and number of PC’s and servers for MNS Providers, even phone prospecting can be ineffective.
Fortunately there are ways to narrow the funnel and select the best business list that are a fit for your company and will lead to a higher closing rate once your meeting is booked with a larger transaction size. One way if your company is most interested in MFP Sales is to acquire a list of leases that have lease expiration dates in 2 years or less. There are larger leases that are public record through UCC filings, but UCC filings typically don’t contain all the information you need. There are however 3rd Party Companies that in addition to the UCC Filing Dates can get more complete information like lease signor, equipment brand, model number and number of units and, occasionally, transaction size.
For companies more interested in determining the number of printers for MPS or the number of PCs and servers for MNS there are lists available that have that information as well. The challenge with both types of data is they can be costly. Many times it is simpler to determine the number of printers or PCs based on the number of “white collar or knowledge based” workers. An example might be a law firm with 100 employees. There is typically one printer per 5 employees or 20 Printers in this case, and a PC for each employee; in this case a 100PCs. So if you are looking for the typical target MPS Client with 20 or more printers start with firms with at least 100 “white collar” workers.
It’s also important when acquiring lists like these, such as, companies with 100+ employees, etc., that, if possible, you get multiple contacts of C-Level Employees. The Top C-Level Finance or Information Technology Contacts, CFO and CIO respectively, tend to be the decision makers for transactions with companies that have 100+ Employees, not the owners. If they can’t be reached, the Controller or Director of Information Technology can be strong influencers or decision makers as well.
The most common complaint regarding setting these meetings is that they are next to impossible to set when calling cold. One of the strongest motivators when it comes to getting a C-Level Executive to meet with you is to get a transfer from the owner’s office to their office to make your offer to meet. One way to do it is to call the front desk and ask for the owner by name and if he still works at this location. Typically that will lead to being transferred to his secretary who typically will begin interrogating you by asking what company you are with and if the owner is expecting your call.
When the secretary does this I suggest you ask for help by saying the following; “I’m not sure that (Mr. Owner’s Last Name) is the right person for me to talk to. Who I’m trying to reach is the person who runs your finance department, your CFO. Is that his position?” The owner’s secretary will correct you and say he’s the owner and will give you the CFO’s name the majority of the time, and when they do, ask to be transferred to him. The CFO will likely answer the call and then you say the following, “Hi Mr. CFO my name is _____ and I was pointed in your direction by Mr. Owner’s Last Name Office,” and then make your pitch. I think you will be surprised at how well this technique works, along with a number of other techniques I’ve developed over the years to set that truly “Top Shelf Meeting” you want your people going on!