03/11/2014 04:24 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

One in a Million:Changing the Way Sales Are Made


Jeff Surrette sells copy machines, although that's not exactly how he sees it. He works for RICOH and they sell copy machines, although that's not exactly how they see it either. Jeff and his company both agree that they are in the business of technology. They change the way business is done and although their machines do have the ability to make copies, this is such a tiny incremental fraction of what they do, they choose not to let photo-copies define their business at all.

I own several large businesses throughout Massachusetts, and these businesses need copy machines. As such, it's rare for more than a week or two to go by where I am not approached by someone in the copy machine business. Three years ago I was approached by Jeff Surrette, and he got through to me. You see, this is in and of itself quite rare. I get approached enough by copy machine sales people, that I always delete their messages, and never have the time to reach back to them. Except for Jeff.

If you are in sales, or if you own a business of your own, this article is one of the most important that you will ever read because it will aid you in seeing a new and better way of gaining clients, trust, and rapport. You will establish relationships with high level decision makers of the caliber that most business-to-business sales professionals never have the opportunity to even talk to. I'm about to share with you the secrets of a guy that's breaking all the rules of traditional sales, making himself noticed, and selling copy machines, or as he prefers to remind me, selling technology. Meet salesman extraordinaire, Jeff Surrette as he shares Sales Strategy 101 - For Creating Colossal Results.

Be Different: Jeff says that one of the ultimate strategies anyone should embrace if they are in sales is to be different. This requires that you sit back and outline what all of your competitors look like when they sell their products. What do they say to potential clients? How do they approach clients? How do they sell? You cannot figure out your own strategy until you know what everyone else is doing. Why? Because the essence of your strategy is to be 100 percent different than anyone else that your potential client has talked to. Jeff understands that there are millions of copy machine sales people, so he chooses not to allow himself to be boxed into that role. He sells technology. Jeff also realizes that the businesses he reaches out to are bombarded regularly by sales people just lobbying for an appointment, so Jeff takes a totally different approach (more on that in a moment). The point is, if you act like every other salesperson, you will get the same result as every other salesperson. If you want to break through to potential clients, be different.

Love Your Company: Jeff is a RICOH fanatic. I should know. Jeff is so amazing at his job that I tried to recruit him into a sales position at my company. Jeff, however, is a raving fan of RICOH. When I asked Jeff why he loves his company so much he said that they give him the tools he needs to be successful. Jeff's eyes lit up as he explained to me the RICOH philosophy and tagline, "Imagine Change." He said that it's exciting to work for a company that is proactive about change. RICOH looks beyond the box (pun intended) to deliver a great experience for the end client. Jeff explained that many of those he works with have been with the company for 20 or more years, and it's because at RICOH people buy into the vision that change is good, and that change is absolutely necessary to be great.

Show Them How Much You Care: Jeff said he spends one hour a day researching his clients and potential clients. Who is making the buying decisions and what makes that person tick? Jeff finds most of what he needs right on Google. Then he acts on that information. Three years ago I received a Fedex package from Jeff. I had never met nor heard of him before. In the package, Jeff had printed some articles that he thought I would enjoy based on the research he had done on me. On another occasion, Jeff sent me a Harvey Mackay book on sales and leadership. How the heck did Jeff know me so well? Easy. Google. One of Jeff's favorite books of all times is Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. He practices Carnegie's lessons by taking extreme interest in others. He caught my attention, so much so that I shared my story about Jeff in my recent book, REACH!. When you spend the time getting to know your potential client, and then act upon that knowledge, you create a whole new playing field for your business. No longer are you cast in the role of copy machine sales guy like the thousands of others, now you are Jeff Surrette - an acquaintance or friend who really cares about the people he wishes to do business with.

Always Offer Value: Jeff says that his goal is to bring value to his client or potential client every single time he has a conversation. For example, he says that just because someone has purchased from him, doesn't mean the conversation is over. He said this is just the start of the relationship. Then the fun begins, says Jeff. He looks for opportunities to challenge his clients to try using their RICOH machines or services in new ways that can add to the health of the client's business. Jeff says that he wants his clients to realize that a big part of his value is that he works with all types of businesses and when one is doing something really cool with their RICOH services, he wants to share that with all his other clients. Jeff says that he isn't doing his job if he is not constantly bringing value to the client, both before and after a sale has been made.

Learn From Defeat: Having been working with the same company for 12 years, Jeff says that there are times when he loses. He said that sometimes he doesn't make the sale and another competitor does. There are times when he loses a client he has had for a while. Jeff said that the only time you really lose is when you don't learn from it. For Jeff, defeat is about dissecting the circumstances and asking yourself, "How can I do better next time?"

Jeff is one in a million when it comes to sales. He cares deeply about his clients, you can feel it and see it when he speaks. I told Jeff, there are sales books written about people like him. What is refreshing to know is that there are highly successful sales professionals in the world who have figured out a way to work caring into their strategy, in such a way that sales people who care have the ability to out-perform the high-octane, twist-your-arm-until-you-say-yes kind of salespeople of the past. Jeff Surrette -- sales professional extraordinaire, is changing the way business is done.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Surrette