It’s not that often that I have such exceptional service that I feel compelled to let others know about it, but today I was just blown away by the knowledge and helpfulness of Tarquin at Printer Supermarket.

Before I comment on the Printer Supermarket, I will digress slightly…

I briefly sold PCs many, many years ago. I learnt a number of lessons:

  1. Sales reps aren’t impartial. We used to sell almost identical printers. They had the same engine, same specs, similar prices but came from competing manufacturers. Oh, and one of the suppliers offered reps bonuses. From memory, the top reward was a jet-ski. So when a customer walked in asking for the best laser printer, which model do you think they offered?
  2. Sales reps aren’t knowledgeable. Why do they need to be when they are making the decision based on kick-backs? They just need to know enough phrases to make it sound like they know the facts. “Which printer is better?”, “Brand X”, “Why?”, “Because it has a superior printing engine and is more reliable”.
  3. Sales reps don’t have experience. Let’s be reasonable at this stage. They don’t spend their life using what they are selling, and they don’t change models every 2 days to compare (unless they work in a mobile phone store and then they are phone junkies). Someone once told me that the “I use this one myself” line is normally a blatant lie. The trick is to ask a question that can only be answered by the user.
  4. Sales reps don’t really care. Well, they do because it meets their budget, but they don’t care about the customer and giving them what they actually need.

Of course I generalise and there are exceptions.

So this morning I called the Printer Supermarket for advice on a colour laser printer. Tarquin started by asking what I needed the printer for and then directed me to some great value printers. He told me the key differences between the models and what the impact was for me. He steered me away from certain models based on facts.

But where I really became impressed was when he started rattling off the ongoing running costs for the half dozen models we were discussing. This included the toner cost and their capacity. I don’t know how much he had stored in memory, or how fast he was pulling it back from a database, but he had the answers as part of the discussion.

Then I asked for comments on why he didn’t recommend the models I had in mind and he had good reasons for his recommendations. In the end I finished the call with a choice of two models based on initial budget and expected workload, a new supplier for my toners (30% cheaper than where I am currently buying them), and something great to write a blog about.

But I better not finish my blog there. The reason I only sold PCs for a short time was partially because I hated the industry and I hated the sales ethic.

Now I run my own business with Tim. If someone calls asking for the price of a particular temperature logger we will obviously give an answer, but we will try to find out what they are going to be using it for. I will gladly spend time talking to someone to find out exactly what they are doing so that they have the best unit. This may even involve sending them to another company.

So when it comes to my list above, here’s my self-assessment:

  1. Impartial: We have a range of loggers and we don’t have a bias for one model over another. Our profit margins are similar for all models, and there are no kickbacks from suppliers. If we can’t help you we will try to redirect you to someone who can.
  2. Knowledgeable: We have been selling temperature loggers since 2000. We spend time learning about what our customers do, picking up the anecdotes, visiting sites, and try to keep informed on what is happening. At the end of the day it’s not rocket science, but there is still good advice and bad advice. We aim for good advice!
  3. Experience: I wrote the software for 3 of our products. That’s in depth experience. We use all products before selling them for the first time. We run in-house experiments because we can (see blogs on colour for examples). We won’t have experience in your particular field (be it a nurse, chef, scientist, etc) but we have used our products.
  4. Care: Hopefully you worked out by now, we care.

So, in summary, if you want a printer, talk to the Printer Supermarket. If you want a temperature logger, talk to us. 🙂