Skip to main content


Sign up and receive our blogs, free updates about e-commerce trends, B2B strategies, and more.

Instant Sign Up

8 Reasons Your Copier Salesperson Will Not Succeed in the New Digital Economy

17 April 2019 | Norm McConkey



Can you teach an old dog new tricks?Say goodbye to the copier rep and hello to the digital sales rep.

The age-old sales question: can you teach an old dog new tricks? Why do sales reps struggle to adapt to new products, services, and workflows? You are shelling out a lot of money on your sales team; it may be time to take a step back before you go forward.


Selling is not easy and we all know that a good sales rep can move the revenue needle, especially in a business development role. There is an artistry to getting a customer to sign a contract. I built two successful businesses on the back of outstanding committed salespeople; one works for me today (shout out to Caleb,) the other is a legend in the MPS Industry: Tim Brien. Almost a decade ago, things started to change. It was getting harder and harder for traditional copier businesses to win new placements.


I’m not talking about upgrades or winning business from a competitor; I’m talking about new businesses–those started by the generation after us. These businesses are not just newer versions of our own, they act differently. They use technology differently. They research differently. Office printing does not get the same attention in new age business as it did in traditional.

New businesses are suspicious of salespeople. They are so accustomed to leveraging their own social networks, they see outside sales as anachronistic.

Dealership reactions to the new paradigm are predictable. Instead of soul searching to decide where they fit in the value chain, the first reaction to slowing sales is to fire the sales rep. Then, fire the sales manager. Then, the attention turns to marketing–we need more leads, better leads. Or maybe focus on sales training. Closes aren’t happening because reps are not using LinkedIn. They send bad emails. Here’s my favorite–they aren’t genuine enough (side note: what the heck does that even mean??). Your sales reps didn’t all of a sudden get dumb and lazy.

Here’s why MOST traditional outside salespeople will fail to succeed in the new digital world. Traditional outside reps:

  1. Usually, try to “over spec” any opportunity with more hardware than is required.
  2. Try to schedule meetings instead of close over the phone/web.
  3. Are much older than the buyer.
  4. Are not motivated (incentivized) by smaller desktop print opportunities.
  5. Believe the supplies annuity is not worth the trouble.
  6. Think that if you had an e-commerce website it would “take deals away” from them.
  7. See laptops, notebooks, and desktop computers as low-value targets.
  8. Often use the phrase “I’m more of a traditional sales rep…”

There is also another cultural issue within a copier dealership that is difficult for new sales team members to crack. Imagine a new rep coming in and seeing that a rep with the above characteristics is seen as an icon. Would you want the old rep to train the new rep?


Digital Sales Rep

The Digital Sales Team

I hate the term “inside sales”. Are they in a cage? Must they all aspire to one day be outside? Is what they are selling less important than the outside rep? Somehow, using your telephone, email, social networks, CRM, and e-commerce store are temporary sales tools on the way to being the outside rep. Nonsense.

Digital salespeople are a lot less expensive than their outside counterparts. They are a lot closer to $15/hr than $100K/year. They have much smaller expense reports. They can build a book of business that is much more diverse than an outside rep. Their revenue is much more consistent because it is built upon more customers, more products, and more transactions. Digital salespeople can mine your existing accounts without disrupting the revenue of the outside team.


You still need business development representatives to open up new accounts, and you likely need some field reps to visit accounts and discuss new technologies, but more and more, your revenue should be driven by reps that view the world like these new businesses you are trying to sell to. Say hello to the digital sales rep.

Maybe I’m wrong? But answer this: how many of your last five hires have been successful? Let’s try something new.





About the Author

Norm McConkey

Norm McConkey has been involved in the print, imaging, and software/tech business since 1993. Holding executive level positions in a number of emerging technology firms, he founded PrintFleet in 2003, and Tangent MTW in 2009. A founding member of the MPSA, an award winning author and presenter, Norm has spoken at various industry events around the world including the Lyra Imaging Symposium, Photizo confernece, ITEX Tradeshow, Regional BTA conferences, Remax Europe, and World Expo. He has been contracted to consult and build go to market and sales training programs with several OEM manufacturers such as Canon USA, and HP, and distributors such as Parts Now and Supplies Network, as well Resellers including Office Depot. Norm’s current project, MPSToolbox (, is a software platform which helps technology dealers develop and maintain e-commerce websites.


Copyright Tangent MTW Inc © 2018. All Rights Reserved.