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It’s 2019: Stop Asking Salespeople What Your Customers Want. Do a Survey!

01 May 2019 | Norm McConkey



At the recent ITEX show, one of our newest clients explained why they decided to invest in MPSToolbox. The logic was so simple it floored me. I love being floored. Their takeaway was that they had to go ahead with an e-commerce implementation.

As salespeople, we often complicate things. OK, maybe I do, so when someone explains a value proposition to you in simple terms, you need to lean in and listen. In this case, the customer was a managed service and managed print services (MPS) shop. They do not have transactional customers.

Prevailing wisdom: they thought they had no need for e-commerce because their customers are all under contract.

To their credit, they realized they were answering a question that was really not for them to answer, but for their customers. So, since they are a progressive company with good client relationships, they decided to send out a survey with four simple questions:

  1. Do you currently buy IT products and services online?
  2. What type of products do you buy?
  3. Approximately how much do you spend annually on these purchases?
  4. Would you consider buying those products from us?

Simple, eh? In this case, the company was fairly confident that the results would validate their belief that they did not need e-commerce today. Well, the results came back. They called us and are now going live with MPSToolbox.

Almost every customer surveyed confirmed that they currently buy technology online. The product array varied, but plenty responded back with computers, laptops, monitors, and telephony.

Some customers were purchasing in excess of $100,000 annually. Here’s the best part:

Many customers replied they would absolutely consider buying from the reseller if the products were offered by them online.

I’ve often heard prospects say to me “my customers wouldn’t do X” or “my customers like…”

Smart resellers don’t speak for their clients. Smart resellers don’t limit their future growth by projecting their lack of enthusiasm for a project onto their customers. Asking a sales rep to talk to customers about e-commerce is also a really bad idea. Most sales reps I encounter are scared to death of e-commerce. Their asking will therefore be biased against any solution they feel threatened by.

It's 2019. Don’t take my word for it. Take five minutes to survey your customers. An online survey is a win-win idea: by doing this, you show that you are engaged and soliciting their feedback. Need help building a survey? We can help!






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.


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