Cold calls, warm leads and hot prospects. It seems most office technology dealerships are fairly adept at taking the temperature of their clients and prospective business partners, but sometimes it takes old-fashioned and sometimes indirect interactions to help set the stage for future work engagements.
The common denominator is a dealer’s ability to ingratiate itself to the local or regional business community that can foster amity and perhaps lead to a signed contract.
TGI Office Automation of Brooklyn promotes itself through local, outdoor events, and it uses amateur or professional sporting events to get its name out to the business community. The company invites anywhere between 10 and 50 people to games—including their family members—to get to know clients and prospects in a more relaxed and intimate setting.
“That’s had an impact on improving the business conversation,” said Vince Colaianni, director of sales development. “When you get to know somebody over a sporting event, whether you’re cheering with someone or against their team, there’s more authenticity in the dialogue going back and forth. That’s when business problems get solved. It’s not unusual to get a contract signed a day or two later.”
Sports sponsorships have always been useful in increasing name recognition in the marketplace for Eakes Office Solutions of Grand Island, NE. The sponsorships sometimes include customer drawings to win game tickets. Eakes will e-blast the drawing to its client base, directing them to the dealer’s site to fill out an entry form, according to Sandy Faber, corporate marketing manager.
One of Eakes’ college sports sponsorship includes a time-out activity where student participants compete for the chance to make a basketball half-court shot to win an 80” Sharp television. Faber points out that throughout the activity, Eakes’ banners are on display on the court and its name is announced. One of the lucky winners even made the local evening news, generating free PR.
Quality Digital Office Technology of York, PA, doesn’t use its philanthropy as an ulterior motive to garner more business, as the company is passionate about giving back to the community. Still, its Giving Thanks events have certainly raised the dealer’s esteem in the eyes of its client base. It has donated nearly $50,000 and 17,000 pounds to food banks and soup kitchens in Southcentral Pennsylvania and also collects toys for children’s cancer patients. The dealer also assembles blessing bags for people who are homeless or in shelters, notes Cindy Workinger, vice president of sales.
“It’s something everyone can get behind because everybody wants to help the less fortunate,” she said. “We sponsor a lot of nonprofits locally and we task every employee to get involved and donate their time to a nonprofit they’re passionate about.”
From the apropos to nothing department comes a gem that certainly generated style points with the customers of Consolidated Copier Services in McDonough, GA. Late last summer, leading up to the solar eclipse, the dealer ordered boxes of the highly-coveted glasses and handed them out at target accounts right around the time they became difficult to find. While the glasses were ordered weeks in advance, Consolidated Copier Services had no idea they would be such a hit with customers, notes Jordan Roberts, marketing director.
“Everyone loved the glasses, and it’s such a good way for the reps to get in and target accounts that were maybe cold or a little standoffish towards them,” she said. “Because of the success we had with them, we’re looking at doing a giveaway once a month. October is National Pizza Month, so we might hand out coupons, for example.
“We serve ice cream and have games at networking events. During ribbon-cutting ceremonies, we plan to hand out gourmet chocolate. We’ve also hand-delivered breakfast to customers. It’s all about creating relationships and making it fun to do business with us.”
Value-added incentives also prove popular with customers. Adam Gregory, owner of Jacksonville, FL-based Advanced Business Solutions, provides custom video tutorials to its clients after the sale. The videos are sent to each individual users of Advanced’s product, which are often not the purchasing agent.
“That has not only built customer loyalty, it has kept us in front of the actual users of our product,” he said. “This has greatly helped with secondary sales of the consumable items.”