Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sales Boost: Toner for The New Year

Need a sales boost? I think there are some regular proposals you can send out to your clients. One good one is toner cartridges.

As you know, toner can range from a low of $30 per cartridge to a high of $150 or more. The $75-$90 range is very common.

And who uses toner? Everyone. Every single one of your customers.

Here's a project you can give to your sales department. That might be you or the office manager, too.

Step One: Find out what kind of printers each client has. Ideally, this will be in your Network Documentation Binder. It should also be in your PSA system (Autotask, ConnectWise, Tigerpaw, etc.).

So make a table. Maybe an Excel spreadsheet. It should list each client and the printers they have.

Step Two: Look up the toner cartridges used by these printers. Fill in the table with another column for cartridges. Some will be just black, some will be three cartridges, and some will be four. Write down very specific cartridge numbers.

Step Three: Look up these cartridges at your favorite supplier (Ingram, Synnex, etc.). Get your pricing for each. Fill in the table with your costs and preferred mark-up.

Step Four: Write a letter to each client along the lines of:

Did you know that we sold toner?

As you are painfully aware, toner is one of the most expensive office supplies you buy. That means you don't want to have a lot of it sitting on the shelf. I've attached a quote for a full set of toner cartridges for your [fill in the model] printer in case you're looking to spend some money this fiscal year.

In addition to simply selling toner, we can help you save money on all of your printing costs. First, if you're on platinum managed service, we can probably monitor your printers remotely for no additional charge. This will give us an alert if you need service - or if a toner cartridge is getting low. Or we can make printer checks part of the monthly maintenance at no additional charge.

Second, we can deliver toner only when "order toner" indicator goes on. This will preserve your capital by providing toner only when you need it. We've seen clients with thousands of dollars worth of toner cartridges in their supply cabinets. That's money you can be using for something else.

Third, we would like to help you find your next printer. Many modern printers don't "count" color pages if you print in black and white. Older printers counted a page as a page, so you bought replacement color toner even though you didn't need to.

We can help you choose a good workgroup printer that meets your needs, uses toner efficiently, and has reasonably-price toner cartridges. That will save you a lot of money in the long run. The second quote I've attached if for an HP [fill in the model] printer we've had a lot of luck with. This is a workhorse at a very reasonable price. We've also quoted a full set of toner cartridges so you can see what they cost.

Fourth, we can save in little ways. For example, if your printer is efficient with color toner when you print in black and white, we can configure it to print B&W by default. That will save you money every day. When you want to print in color, you just choose color on the same screen where you choose between portrait and landscape.

We are proud to serve your company every day.

I would like to schedule a meeting with you to discuss this or anything else. Please contact me if you're interested.

Thank you for your business.

You'll need to customize this letter for each client. But you probably have a few clients with the same printer. And if you've got a client with a mish-mash of printers, then life gets a little more difficult. But you can still address a sample printer.

As a general rule, you should sell one or two brands of preferred printers. You don't need to service them. But you should either sell something with a three year warranty or offer extended warranties.

You should ALWAYS quote a full set of toner cartridges with every printer quoted. First, many printers show up with baby toner carts that will run out right away. And, second, it gives the client a sense of what the cost is.

I recommend that you do NOT discount from your standard mark-up and try to compete on price. If you're within 10-20% of the street price, you'll be fine. Look at the work you did above, and the letter. Staples is not providing this service to your clients. Office Depot is not providing this service to your clients. Office Max is not providing this service to your clients.

This is about service. Don't make it about price.

If you sell managed print services, this is a great way to start that conversation.

Eventually, you will have most of your clients on one or two brands of printers. That makes their life easier and it makes your life easier. You can learn a brand or two. You can keep up with a brand or two.

Important Do-Not's

Do Not Keep an Inventory of Toner. If you're small, inventory is always a bad idea. If you pay $70 for a toner cartridge that you hope to sell for $80, you can tie up a lot of money waiting for someday. And if ONE cartridge sits unsold on your shelf for the next five years, you can throw it on the recycle pile. You just lost the profit on seven sales. In other words, you lost the profit on $560 worth of sales.

Do Not Compete on Price. Yeah, you might trim a little. But don't go to PriceGrabber and find the lowest price, then drop below that. Remember, your clients are probably buying at Stapes and Office Max. You have to be close to them. You're able to provide some value added service, but hand delivery. You're providing the big picture. That's worth something.

Do Not Fret if You Don't Get the Sale. Hey, these folks weren't buying toner from you yesterday. So you tried something and it didn't work. But guess what? Now the client knows you do more than remove viruses. They might just call you the next time they have a printer question or need a quote. You've laid the ground work and put your name on their desk one more time.

Good luck. If you hurry you might be able to get some year-end sales if people have money to spend.


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  1. Karl,

    Thanks for more great advice!

    If you are looking for a great ink\ toner distributor http://www.printeressentials.com/ is a great place to start. The customer service from this company is AWSOME! I don't do a lot of business with them but I got a happy holidays call that's right a CALL from my account rep.


  2. Thanks for the resource, Steve!


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