Duplicating a successful business

Paul Hanna embodies his company’s motto, “Commitment to Excellence.”

He hasn’t missed a day of work in more than five years except to spend vacation time with his family, he’s put his faith in leadership and laid down the challenge to his 120 employees at Meritech Blue to meet the high demands of clients.

So it should come as no surprise that one of Hanna’s more ingrained sayings at Meritech Blue is “A satisfied customer is not loyal, only a completely satisfied customer is loyal.”

Hanna’s “Commitment to Excellence” is a pledge of reliability, accountability and total customer satisfaction. Since 1995, he has built a successful provider of office technology, including digital copiers and Internet faxes, on that pledge. He’s also put everything on the line by believing that through preaching excellence in customer service to his employees, his company could rise above the competitors.

That belief has paid off. It’s helped Hanna affect true change within his industry, transforming it from a simple box sale business to solutions sale, which gives Meritech Blue the unique opportunity to build relationships with customers at all levels, starting with office copiers and extending to printing, faxing, computers and document imaging.

These moves have also helped Hanna win numerous awards, including Ernst & Young LLP’s Entrepreneur Of The Year award in the category of Business Services this year.

Behind the moves are several practices that Hanna instills within his staff, including a six-step sales process that has helped Meritech Blue’s team ascend to the forefront of the highly competitive office products industry:

1. Find the prospect.

2. Find “Mr. Right,” the ultimate decision-maker.

3. Arrange a demonstration.

4. Build rapport.

5. Do the demo.

6. Close.

Hanna has also tied a four-part demo package to the process to ensure Meritech Blue is able to get its complete message across to consumers.

1. Sell yourself.

2. Sell Meritech Blue Inc. and the manufacturer.

3. Sell service — “Commitment to Excellence.”

4. Sell features, advantages and benefits.

But Hanna knows that following through with those processes means constant improvement through training.

“Your company’s success is tied to several things,” Hanna says, “and one of the most important is how well your employees know the product and your sales process.”

To that end, Hanna hosts weekly sales meetings to educate the sales staff and monthly managers’ meetings, where departmental ideas and questions can be raised. Improvement, however, doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and Hanna also tries to instill a healthy atmosphere of motivation beyond simply meeting sales numbers.

At Meritech Blue, employees are rewarded for their commitment to excellence — they earn shopping sprees for their families at local malls, annual bonuses and semi-annual trips.

Employees also get involved in Meritech Blue’s commitment to giving back to the communities that support the company. It hosts the Berea Children’s Home Annual Golf Outing and blood drives for the American Red Cross and employees pack food for the hungry at the Cleveland Food Bank.

Hanna’s philosophy is simple — if you expect the best out of life, you will get the best. How to reach: Meritech Blue, (216) 271-4800

Dustin Klein ([email protected]) is editor of SBN Cleveland.