Thursday, November 30, 2017

Why Your Company Doesn't Need a Copier

All you need is a scanner.

You know you aren't copying as much as you once had been.

WE know you aren't copying as often, too. Heck we've known for decades you rarely, if ever, copy or print on tabloid, 11x17. So why have we been selling you devices capable of melting plastic on larger sheets of dead tree matter?

Because bigger machines look more impressive, that's why. You've been fooled into believing 'those little printers can't keep up with the bigger copiers...' You've been lied to.

Here's why we've been selling you too much:

More sales commission - Entry level sale people are compensated on REVENUE. Bigger devices have bigger price tags supporting larger commissions.

Manufacturers quotas - Dealers purchase toner and parts from the manufacturers (OEMs) they sell. These OEMs contract a certain number of devices be purchased monthly. If a provider fails to meet these commitments, the OEM may raise the cost of toner and parts, thereby reducing margins on the bread and butter of EVERY copier dealer - service contracts.

Cheaper cost per image - This issue is especially evil because it is based on a truth. Copiers have a less expensive cost per image. Meaning, you'll pay less for USING a copier vs. printing on a traditional printer. If your volumes are in the 10k/emp range, this is a consideration. When calculating YOUR true cost per image, roll in the amortized equipment or machine lease cost into your service cost.

More retail value - Tricky issue, this. Let's just say the retail(which nobody ever charges) value of a device can determine how much soft costs can be shoved into your equipment lease. "Soft cost" defined as anything from existing buyout figure, software & installation costs or profit.

Reasons you don't need a copier:

You don't copy anymore

At one point in history, employees generated about 10,000 images a month on copiers and printers - this was a per employee figure.

Today, employees can generate NO images per month let alone copy. Look at your processes. Do you email invoices? Do you accept online payment? Do you still make copies of every invoice you receive?

You never print on 11x17

One of the determining factors when deciding to buy a copier is paper size - original and finished. In the olden days, books and manuals were routinely copied. "Book Copy" was a standard or sought after feature. An scanner the size of 11x17 was very convenient. But a bigger scanner means bigger rollers, and trays. More power consumption for larger bulbs. Almost twice the size of a 'little printer' - with twice the manufacturing costs.

We knew this. But is was easy to see 'bigger is better' and good for everyone on this side of the table.

Paper is too slow

Chances are your competition is looking into automating manual processes like Accounts Payables/Receivable. Nobody looks to invest in software to save trees. Business wants to be nimble and responsive. It just so happens that business functions based on paper are slower and more apt to mistakes than digitized processes.

Are you moving at the speed of thought or the speed of paper?

In the end, the market will determine winners and losers - somebody somewhere will need or require copiers. Indeed, right now there is somebody purchasing buggy-whips.

But you don't ride a horse to work, do you?


Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Last "MpS"


Everything dies, baby that's a fact, but just because something doesn't last forever, doesn't mean it wasn't perfect.  Proclaimed back in 2011, the fading of managed print services continues.  Don't believe me?  

Ask your customers/prospects and you'll hear the truth. Whispers from the Abyss:

  • "We've really cut back on the number of printers and copiers we use."
  • "We don't print as much."
  • "We once had a copier on every floor and printers at each desk.  We don't anymore."
I could go on - hell, if you're in the field and honest, YOU can add to the above list.

So here it is - what follows is a list of industry influencers and players with reflections and status according to DOTC.

The year is 2017; just about 10 years after managed print services arrived on scene. Much has changed.

The Last Battlestar - The Industry

The final battle has been played out - in the blink of an eye, we're looking at a new world, fresh opportunities, starting from scratch.

The 'fading X' is shuffling business into the channel, Lexmark assimilated, Ricoh jettisoning crew members while HP becomes half the company she once was.

The dealer channel continues to shutter and meld - like mother blue, the number of dealers is half what they use to be.

"There Must Be Some Kind of Way Out of Here"

Gods - we had plenty.

In the old days, our industry supported a plethora of expensive educators matriculating the ways of the copier sale.  Burying the buy-out, back loading usage, avoiding the escalation and auto-renewals discussion and counting empty boxes as inventory.

Oh yeah, that happened.

Visionaries have come and gone leaving the old guard frustrated, tired and full of disbelief - how could so many ignore so much?

But we go on.

A new generation of office equipment professionals keep entering the fray.  Fresh graduates from around the world are easily recruited with medium size salaries, double-digit commission rates and cars.

Bright-eyed and bushy tailed, some of these new recruits don't realize they'll be selling copiers until the third day of company orientation; so thick is our marketing-babel.

Be that is it may - the new generation is one of Hope.

Our industry is going through the final stage of evolution, shedding old ideas and superstitions.  This 'last-jump' is going to be a doozie - it will be sudden, catastrophic and unclear.  The ship is old, she's made her last jump ending a million light years away.

The best part? You are Galactica, we are Galactica. It matters not that the industry dives into the Sun. You make the difference, you carry on when the OEMs and dealers collide.  You move forward as volumes drop.

You can start over.

The Last Star Fighter - Xerox
Old fashioned and artificial, the X is just that - fading.  She tried to spread beyond the frontier, but surrendered to her fate: a copier company does not an information technology (IT) company, make.

Tough lesson.

Global Imaging, a Xerox company, continues to collect logo's.

It will not make a difference.  The GunStar is fighting her last battle without the benefit of "Death blossom".  Expect a smaller footprint form X.

The Last Enterprise - HP
The Enterprise never dies.

So it is with HP(Mother Blue).

Her metamorphosis is timeless, eternal.  Of course each new skin is just that - shinny on the outside, same uniforms on the inside.

Lens flare, red shirts, chain of command and the Prime Directive - HP personified.

The assimilation of Samsung enhances and intensifies Starfleet's resolve and sets the table for an HP decade.  New devices, utilizing ink instead of toner, serviced directly with Instant-Ink and MPS vans is the model of the future.  The printer calls for service, supplies and even orders its replacement.

No copier sales people. No Dealers. No third-party toner.

The Last Jedi - Copier Salespeople
Talk about timeless, the copier sales person ruled the galaxy, supporting countless families for decades.

But the Jedi were emasculated, scattered and forgotten - relegated to legend and myth.

Today's Jedi are taught the ways of the past - 30 day cycles, revenue based compensation, separate A4 and A3, bury equipment into the service agreement, flip the MIF,  and paper will always be relevant.

There is Hope, but it isn't in the print Galaxy.  Sales skills are both learned and transferable - today you're selling copiers to churches, next month you could be selling HVAC systems.

Today, you're presenting managed print services, next month you're talking cost reduction through Energy Control Services.

The Last Samurai - Dealers
The road to MpS nirvana, which ended up being nothing more than perdition, is littered with burned out managed print services sales people, specialists, managers and directors.

Even today, the adulterated definition permeates: how can you claim a managed print services focus yet refer to MpS as "the little machines" and separate A3 from A4?   Get off your dinosaur.

Both the bane and savior of the industry, the "independent", indirect channel has been shrinking for decades.  IKON collected the best of the best in the '90s only to be swallowed by Ricoh.

In 2007, Xerox, through Global, started buying up local dealers - they haven't stopped here in 2017.

The dealer-on-dealer consumption rate seems to increase with each month.  But the day will come, soon, when we have two or three major dealers across the country - all things must end - just like Tower Records and Incacomp.

The Last Gunslinger - MpS Salespeople
Once, when the world of Wizards and Glass was young, there were many Gunslingers.  Idealistic and full of hope, these Visionaries honed magical skills - dispatching MpS agreements from the heart.

Profitable and vast, Mid-World was wide open - printers ran amok.

The Gunslingers rode in assessing and installing - reducing prints, clicks, images, cost, devices and headache.

The time was glorious.

Today, MpS reps are a dime a dozen - a cross between copier and toner sales person, the typical sales person is just that: a typical sales person.  No Acumen, Depth or Vision, today's drones...drone on about his MpS program, customer retention rate, and company growth.  They bloviate about "30% cost reduction", "automatic toner-fulfillment", "60 month contracts" and "Service SLA's", fooled into believing these points are relevant.

Gone are the discussions about business problems, how managed print services is a program that connects IT and office automation; how MpS is business process optimization.

It's too easy to sell on price and normal to pitch 'cost savings' over convenience - the posers are always red-handed.

Roland is the Last and Ka is a wheel - everything ends at the beginning.

The Last Word
The copier niche has a few good years left as consolidation, less need for print and HP converge.  I've said it before and will continue to preach:  There is no better place to acquire sales skills so learn all you can.  The industry is full of bullshit - there is no such thing as top-down loyalty so don't expect any - believe in yourself, not your current employer.  Learn all you can - not just product knowledge but observe how your manager behaves, what motivates your regional/district manager.  Regard every step ownership makes; with employees, customers and your partners.

It is difficult to look into the fire, while your in the flames, but the most valuable lessons are learned through indirect observation, not specific teachings. "You learn more from a three minute record, than you ever learn in school."  Soak everything in, but with a grain of salt. 

Remember, all the motivation and talk about how leadership is there to "help you be successful" is manipulation.  

The talk track shifts to motivation as soon as you see it as an attempt to manipulate you into being a "company person".  Which isn't terrible, the machine requires cogs. 

But you're in sales, you can do anything.

In the end, this doesn't mean your journey is over - the Journey never, ever ends - The Last MpS is another stone in the the river of life.

Turbulence.

Enjoy the ride.

"Everything dies baby that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on fix your hair up pretty and meet me tonight in Atlantic City"




Hollywood Has Been F*cked for Decades(Literally and Figuratively)

Last night, I was scrolling through XM and came upon an oration that caught my ear. The host was articulating his experiences with the Hollywood elites/liberals.

I spent some 12 years on the coast, loved every second of it. I did find it odd that the land of Regan and Nixon had so many conservative 'haters'.

And "hate" is the right word.

One Christmas party, high in the San Bernardino mountains, the hostess went on to explain how she wished, "President Bush would die." Over and over she said this - so often that I felt threatened for the President. I skirted around the issues at hand, the Iraq War, and tried to discuss the food, the drink, Christmas tree or weather - anything but politics of the day.

She wasn't having it.

On and on she droned about how the President was the most evil man since Hitler. How his "policy of War" was going to destroy us all. To her, everything was going to hell in a hand basket - the economy was going to crash, Bush was going to re-introduce the draft, and women were going to lose the rights to their bodies.

Now I love a good debate - I'm fond of taking views CONTRARY to my own in order to understand the thinking/rationalization opposition process. But on this holiday evening, I simply moved from a great cab to more potent bourbon - and watched, listened.

The Rover @ 5k' - An Inch An Hour
You see, I'm a mid-westerner.  Raised just outside Detroit, I remember the 70's fairly well.  I witnessed my first major, social, economic and political transformation.   Prior to the 70's, Detroit, the Motor City was a hard hitting, three-shift churning, ideal of American, industrial power.

This is were my views were forged.  I grew up in a world without entitlements.  If you wanted something, like food or a house or car, you worked for it.  Pretty simple.  Once you earned it, nobody would take it away from you. Again, pretty straight forward.

Well, oil prices spiked, and OPEC initiated an embargo, a bunch of Iranian 'students' held Americans hostage and our President recommended we wear sweaters.  Jimmy Carter killed the V8 and help devastate Detroit.

So there I was, one cold and snowy evening, surrounded by college professors and Hollywood studio folks - wine flowing almost as freely as the knee-jerk opinions presented as fact.

When I heard the words coming out of my speakers, the vision snapped into consciousness.

Hollywood is fucked.  Its great that so many are coming out and taking down the scumbags, but here's my contrarian view:

  • Why did it take so long?  Remember Monica?
  • Why didn't REAL men defend REAL women & take on the sexual deviants?
  • How can ANYONE defend any of these deplorables? 

Sure, there are douchebags from all sides yet I fear the Hollywood elite have enabled what is now an Institution of Scum.  This institution has the marketing, PR budget and number of enablers rivaling the Catholic Church.

The next few years should be very transformative.

Here's the article.


Monday, November 6, 2017

Yes, paper-less offices are real. "And they're Spectacular."


In an episode of Seinfeld, Jerry's gorgeous new girlfriend's lovely breasts become the subject of conjecture; are they real or implants. Elaine thinks they're fake so Jerry decides not to see her again. Elaine changes her mind after tripping and falling into the ample bosom. 

Again, the "paper-less office will never exist" debate is grabbing headlines and copy.  Good stuff, if not factually spun.

I've been face to face with organizations who significantly reduced the number of copiers, printers and reams of paper utilized.  
  • A major retail company went from 100 or so devices to 10
  • Health network(s) go from huge file rooms to no filing cabinets at all
  • Manufactures shift away from paper based job-jackets to digital files
These companies didn't feel compelled to save the trees or Chewbaccas.  Prospects tell me they squeeze paper out of the process because "paper slows everything."

Contrary to real-world observations, a slew of headlines expressing paper "alive and well" permeate our environment.

It makes sense for an OEM or industry insider to orient a paperless philosophy around their multifunction device or slab of software, yet they are, at best, missing the point or worse, promoting a lie. 

Your prospects are moving to digital workflows not because a copier allows the transition, they are making the journey because paper is an inefficient medium for transporting data.  No client is going to express it that way - they'll say things like, "... we want to process more accounts receivables, quicker" or "our current way of processing service calls is cumbersome, negatively affecting our customer satisfaction and losing us customers."

Tell me how a copier is going to help your customer retain clients.

Before the copier sellers get all riled up, people are still buying/leasing copiers.  The 'down the street' copier sales person can still make a living -  but the clock has been ticking - you won't be selling to manufacturers or distribution companies much longer because as you read this, EVERYBODY is looking at eliminating redundant, paper-based, manual processes.
Ask yourself, better yet, ask your prospects:

"Are you printing and copying more now days?" 

Don't rely on your vendors or management, ownership or industry 'studies' sponsored by manufacturers.

They are not telling you the truth.  "They" want you to work the down the street business, even as it reduces.  Your ownership MUST manage to OEM quotas - for discounts/margin, marketing funds, and supporting bloated service departments. 

Our industry is contracting, NOT GROWING. How many dealers have been scooped up?  From Ikon, to Global Imaging to today's resellers circling the wagons(or is it the drain?), the number of providers fades just as fast as monthly clicks in a Kofax/DocuWare solution.

THAT IS THE PROBLEM.  It's a mirage, a trap to believe YOUR, specific increase in placed devices  represents "recovery" or growth.  Look at total images generated - they are buying but not using devices.

So What?

This is why recognizing the signs is important: If you're in the industry of putting marks on paper, this will not last.

  1. MpS is working - print is being managed out of business
  2. People are organically printing less - yup.
  3. Paper is too slow - yup, yup.
What to do:
  1. Learn as much as you can about sales, business and technology.
  2. See your future beyond the printer/copier; think managed services, internet of everything, remote workers.
  3. Question everything the established, industry players tell you; your dealership, OEMs, software firms, paper companies, toner manufacturers, consultants and industry data analysts are motivated to keep you believing a falsehood.
  4. Look to getting into 'managed services' sales.  More advanced resellers consider output devices just another IT asset and fold MpS into managed IT services; there aren't too many of these people.  Still, the next temporary, upward curve is managed IT.
  5. Figure out how to manage your manager.
  6. Stop thinking you're not good enough to talk with the C-Suite; if you stop selling and start solving, they will listen to you.
  7. Take the company logo off your LI profile, stop bragging about your latest technology show or sales accomplishment - nobody(opportunities & clients) gives a shit.
  8. Build your personal brand - NOT YOUR EMPLOYER'S. If your employer isn't paying for your account, why should they benefit? 
  9. Do the cold calls, make the dials.  Its basic, but valuable beyond all the hype.
  10. Speaking of basics, stop telling, start asking and then shut the hell up.
People have asked, "Greg, why did you stop writing?".  I answer, "...because there is nothing new to talk about.  Everything I've said in the past has come forward and the industry is dumb."  The dumbest thing I hear today is, "Print is relevant, again."  

Paperless offices are real, and they are spectacular.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Men/Women: Equal and Different.




I'm the douchebag...again.

Her name is Shannon and she is one of the first women to fly Apache helicopters. She served on three continents, led two flight platoons and a line company.

She is a great story-teller; visual and engaging she spun tails and related her history to an audience of risk-taking, aggressive, selling professionals.

The fit was perfect.

Shannon told how she encountered sexism in the military, facing the wind and climbing to the pinnacle - against the odds. She expressed the tension felt while flying night missions in South Korea and leading soldiers. How in order to lead others well, one needs to own their personal story.

Know thyself.

Writer, pilot, leader, mother, wife - Shannon took us on a journey around the world.

Once finished, she opened the floor to questions.

At first, nobody spoke - we've all experienced that awkward segment of silence - hands finally took flight, banal questions flew: "...how did it feel...", "...what is it like...", and my favorite, "...what is your favorite missile?", "Well, the HellFire, of course." she answered.

Gotta love the Hellfire.

I was moving from boredom to angst.

Here we had a bonafide American Hero, a female who led men in military missions speaking to a group of technology professionals - an industry heavily populated by men - and the best we could come up with is "What's your favorite missile?"

So, in the silence just before the speaker asks, "are there any final questions?" my hand shot up and I asked,

"Can you give me three differences between female leaders and male leaders?" 

I heard a few nervous giggles, as a broad smile spread across Shannon's face - I knew she got it.

Her response, "First, I feel its the individual not the gender." - I'm paraphrasing, but you get the point. Her answer was the necessary one, eliciting requisite applauds.

Still, I felt the cool gaze of many - it felt good.

Her second and final answer is more powerful and like a Hellfire, flew over most heads - which I find disappointing.

Shannon put on her game face, looked me in the eye and said,

"One thing I've noticed is that men tend to volunteer for missions before and even though, they are not necessarily prepared. Where women tend to train and prepare to a point they feel 100% ready for a mission."

I didn't ask the question to get the room in an uproar, or receive, "You're a douchebag for asking that question." statements.

No.

Today, there are more women decision makers and insight into how women leaders may operate differently than their male counterparts, I felt, would be relevant.

Her answer was perfect.

So yeah, after she left the stage and during the bio-break, sales professionals, commrades-in-arms, expressed a bit of shock. Some saying, folks were remarking,

"Who asked that dick-head question about male and female leaders?"

Wow.


In this age of the eternally offended, I guess assuming men are from Mars and women from Venus, is considered a microaggression.  So, at the very least my question made some uncomfortable and might have actually offended others.  HUH?

I didn't ask, "Who are better leaders men or women?"  The underlying sensitivity, in my opinion, is the current generation's misunderstanding of equal and identical.

I guess it does need saying, "Men and Women are different."  I said it, I meant it, I'm here to represent it.

Strategic Selling -

If we assume Shannon's observation can be translated into the business realm, would you approach a female decision maker/leader differently?

Or would you feel the need to find a safe-place, squeeze Play-doh, and tear down 100 year old statues?