Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Managed Print Services as a Marketing Tool to Place More Gear ?

A Managed Print Services program will reduce the Machines In Field - or it isn't Managed

MIF represents the lifeblood of the copier (dealer) business model; the volume and associated service charges generated by MIF is a monthly, recurring revenue. To increase this revenue usually means adding to the Machines In Field - this also benefits the manufacturer.

So, as an IKON or CBS or RBS, employee, you know how important MIF is and will do most anything to maintain
as well as increase the number.

Additionally, MIF is used to build the compensation base- if you can look forward to re-signing your upcoming, lease expiring, MIF, you can usually expect to make a certain amount of commission.

This model has been in place for decades and has served both dealer and manufacture well.

But could change be in the wind?

During the past twelve months, we have witnessed the merger of manufacturer and dealer in our industry. Manufacturers now own the channel to their customers. And today, with the economy "worse than ever before, in the history of the universe..." (gag, get over it) every sales rep is "under the gun" to live and die in 30 day cycles - month after month after month after month...how's that working for you?

The Collision -

Customers are smarter, focusing on cost controls, demanding more visibility, and accountability - Copier manufacturers' margins are shrinking, and the pressure is on to place more units via any and every technique available.

Rob Sethre, over at Imaging Industry Wall Street Insider mentions, "...MPS provides focus, transparency and accountability where (to the great benefit of the imaging companies) they were missing in the past. Companies will now identify and control print volumes and, most importantly, restructure their printing environments..."

"to the great benefit of the imaging companies...they(focus, transparency and accountability) were missing in the past..."

The last thing a copier vendor or
old school copier sales person wants is for his customer to know the true, monthly CPC.(lease payment+service + overages/number of images printed)

Studies have shown, again and again, the majority of customers purchase copy machines with specifications well over their actual needs. Indeed, my own fleet surveys, although not scientific, do reveal an average monthly volume of 2,800 images over 1,100 machines.

I use to be surprised but now I simply predict this before the survey - I love to see the doubt/fear fleet across the Facility Manager's face- but that's just me.

It is an observed fact that customers are being oversold by the copier folks - not all the time but most of the time. And the collision is between smarter clients and old school, equipment based selling techniques.

More specifically, the clash is between the benefits of a real Managed Print Service Engagement and the wants and needs of the copier manufacture to move product.

MPS trumps uninformed equipment placement.

Exactly how does this figure into MPS? We can be heroes.

Once an MPS engagement is implemented, the goal is to reduce the costs associated with output - one facet of this approach is reducing the number of machines in the field.

For those of you in a big dealer channel that may now be just a really big manufacturer's distribution chain, when you implement a Managed Print Services program, how easy is it going to be to tell your Sales Manager, "...great news, out at ABC company, we managed to reduce their fleet by 17%, removing 24 copiers!..."?

Here's the worst - some in the industry, may consider MPS as a marketing technique. Just another method supporting more hardware. MPS could be just another "talk track" to get in front of the "decision maker" and sell more gear - not solve more problems.

Think I am wrong? Consider this - why have all business equipment providers embraced "Solutions"? Canon, Konica Minolta, IKON, Ricoh, all have "solutions" in their quiver of sales blurbs; right next to "first copy out speed" and "scan once, print many". Ready to be
hurled at some unsuspecting target/SMB owner.

Why? The end goal of all this Solution Selling has been and always will be - to move more gear and capture more clicks.

For example, when ABC manufacturing company wants to file and retrieve it's production manuals and change orders, one can simply recommend "five of my Canon 5185i's" as an "On Ramp" to your digital archiving system. This is an easy sale - add 3-hole punch, 11x17 paper tray and a booklet maker and your client is good to go.

If you're one of the remaining, independent dealers out there, you can survive and even thrive on a service based revenue model and maybe even a consultative based model. But, if you are a manufacture of machines, everything you do is strategically aligned with your number one goal - moving machines out the door. Period.

By the way, how many independent dealers are left? 2? 3?

Embracing the MPS model isn't about a new market niche, or attacking a segment of up till now unreachable opportunity. Real MPS is not about upgrading old hardware at a lower lease payment(although plenty of copier sales people and purchasing managers may think so). True MPS is about solving real, everyday problems and saving honest to goodness money, cash, greenbacks, yen, lettuce...you get the picture.

We can be hero's-

The amount any company can save on printing could save somebody's job - keeping a family fed and happy.

That's all, just someone's job, not enough savings to support a junket to Laguna Beach or Orlando.

Where's my cape?


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1 comment:

  1. I like this approach to true value added selling. Not hardware but consulting with a client to improve realistically their bottom line and make them more efficient at the same time. What a unique idea! Honesty in selling. Gee, I can see a light at the end of this tunnel.

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