Thursday, February 25, 2010

Does Your MPS stand for "Maybe, Probably, Sometimes?" or Does it Just Suck?

2/2010

What's new in MPS?

Xerox, HP, Ricoh, and Canon have MPS programs now. I believe at last count, there no less than 11 major MPS Programs available for provider and client.

Is IKON done hiring MPS people yet?

Dealer infrastructure has been built, the tools are in place.

But why are there still the same old questions?

How is that LinkedIn is filled with "MPS Definition" debates and some of the best MPS questions are coming from OfficeMax and Staples?

Or better yet, where's all that promised Gold?

It's been over two years, at least, since this new iteration of Managed Print Services hit the streets.

Apart from HP and Xerox pumping the media with announcements of incredible, gargantuan, installs and sponsoring their way into the magical, "upper right" corner, what is going on in the real world?

How is the independent dealer fairing in this new, partnership based selling cycle?

Is there really a "new" breed of Selling Professionals taking advantage of MPS?

Are there any Hybrid's out here?(not the iTex version)

Granted, there are successes in the MPS Ecosystem.

But with an estimated 7,000 dealers jumping into MPS, one would figure everybody would be out in the field, assessing, presenting and engaging.

But the MPS Sales training classrooms are still filled, the consultants remain on retainer and owners frustrated.

I get emails every week that begin with,

"...I've been doing this for over "x" decades, sent my team to "fill in the blank" MPS training, attend the weekly, "manufacturer de jour" dealer's con-call, and still, my team doesn't implement.

"...WHAT PLANET do those "ad visors" reside - can you translate what they say into everyday, applicable examples?..." - huh.

What gives?

Managed Print Services, real MPS, is difficult to do. This stuff is hard.

For copier dealers, MPS may have been thought to be just another way to place gear. The "sharper" copier folks saw early on that MPS really looked like CPC for printers - simple. How's that working out for ya?

Toner guys looked at MPS and thought, "Hell, we've been doing CPC on printers for over 150 years!" That's Toner Management Services, TMS; not MPS.

Computer VARs looked at MPS as just another monitoring service, "Service printers? no problem, we can image 250 laptops in 3 hours, we have 25 technicians, how hard can it be to service printers? MFP's? What's the difference?" There is a difference between onsite and depot.

Tsk, tsk, tsk...

Meters reads aren't enough, remote monitoring, monthly invoicing, assessments and Data Collection Agents, aren't enough.

What is needed is EVERYTHING. And the kitchen sink.

You need Selling Professionals who can truly put together a complicated project, marshal the resources of your company, price, package and present this unique proposition, to your prospect, in a simple manner.

And not take forever.

You need service folks who understand selling, you need warehouse people who can think through your system.

And you need to talk to people who have already made the same, MPS mistakes you are going to make - not successful ex-copier dealers who cashed in and now want to tell you how they did it, ten years ago.

Here's a list of ten Reasons your MPS Practice Sucks(there are many more reasons)as mentioned to me, by DOTC readers:

1. You have no clue what you are doing, but you think that you do
2. Ownership/Executive management finally admit MPS isn't really, in the core
3. You have no clear, concise, fair sales compensation plan
4. You haven't taken the time to put together a CPI price sheet
5. You hired "consultants" whose only concern is the monthly retainer
6. You listen to and believed in the same, old skool, copier consultants
7. Your internal process is cumbersome and designed around Transactional sales
8. Your company leadership has no vision
9. You are trying to convert Copier reps into Solution Experts
10. You are trying to boil down MPS into CPC

If you are a MPS Selling Professional and you see some of the above at your practice, be alarmed. Pay special attention to #2 and #8 and brush up the resume.

Do you want the answers to the challenges posed above?

Break out the American Express and email me.


Click to email me.



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Staples Is Now Selling IT Services: Didn't They Just Start Selling Managed Print Services?


"I think VARs that read this will be a little envious of what we have to offer here.

With Staples, we have a Fortune 100 organization, great relationships on the product side, and we can offer very competitive pricing and a great services story for customers as well," - Joe Kalinoski, vice president of finance for Staples Technology Solution.

According to sources, Staples Technology Solutions, the new division, will include access to "...certified specialists for Cisco Systems, Citrix, Linux and other areas; onsite and remote server and desktop support for Apple Mac, Windows and Linux platforms; printer fleet management; and data center assessments and other services ranging from sub-floor cleaning and 24x7 data center emergency supplies..."

- Holy Crap!

They can even clean your sub-floors! Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot?


First off - quite the bold marketing statement from the vice president of finance. I can not think of too many VARs who would be envious of working retail hours, wearing matching vests, and conducting inventory twice a year.

And when was the last time you heard a VP of Finance delve into corporate Value Props? Doesn't staples have a marketing department?

This new effort will fall under Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples.

The prose gets worse, Joe continues,

"By combining these two entities we have a one-source supplier of office products, print solutions and managed print IT services," he said.

"It was a logical evolution to get into the technology space. It was a natural that we were answering our customer calls for not only office products but also technology products. We think we can be one of the lowest-cost providers."

RED FLAGS:

"one-source supplier"
"products"
"lowest-cost providers"

I guess Staples doesn't know what the "V" in VAR stands for.

The target market is focused on companies with 1-250 employees - they may have an IT department but they may not. Staples stresses an "intimate, high touch" strategy for this often overlooked niche.

"Staples is dipping its toe into the water in the IT services space," said Candy Murphy, vice president of Staples' Contract Technology Solutions.

Murphy said the goal is to offer the services nationally. Network and data offerings were the result of Staples' late 2006 acquisition of Thrive Networks, a Boston-area solution provider that services a large portion of eastern Massachusetts.

"The IT industry is highly fragmented," Murphy said, "It (Staples'reputation) brings the trust and the reliability of the brand name," she said.

Jim Lippie, president of Staples Network Services by Thrive said, "We bring a level of expertise and we've learned how the small business works," adding, "There's a real thirst for small businesses to have a larger provider while having the security, but high-touch of a smaller company"

Plus, "They want us to take ownership of all the headaches, mysteries, and risk associated with maintaining a company's IT infrastructure, and make it so they never have to think about them again," Lippie said. "In a nutshell, they want us to make their IT problems go away, and that's exactly what we do."

Time will tell.

But didn't IKON try to do this a while back? Everything except offereing to clean your sub-floors, that is.

Click to email me.







Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lyra 2010 - The Rise Of Managed Print Services - Stage 3 and TheDeathOfTheCopier

Things are never going to be what they use to be.

I stopped in at the Lyra Symposium last week, in Palm Springs: The Road to Recovery.

The year being what it is so far, my schedule has been filled with activities associated with what I call, my "day job".

So, I was able to catch just one day, the day with all the MPS data and presentations.

I was present for 8 hours and can safely say, there were no copier reps in attendance; if by copier reps I mean folks who would be on the phone closing a single copier deal between sessions, which I do, there were none.

I also believe the majority of attendees may have sold face to face in the past, just not in the past 24 hours.

Be that as it may, the data presented by Lyra is priceless.

Especially to we who sell, we in the thick, in the smoke, in the fire.

I am not advocating every Selling Professional attend this and other symposiums, but, I do recommend getting a synopsis or any other information you can, from your manufacture rep or your sales manager (yeah, right, sure...).

Why?

Information is King in your personal, professional development. Your "personal, professional development" might get lip service from management - but it is just that, lip service. When the chips are down, you tell me who gets the axe.

The more you know, the more you can see where your dealership/management is falling down and the easier it is to chart your own course.

My top five Value-Adds from Lyra- 2010:

1. Historical data mined from their extensive database of devices, monitored by PrintFleet, presented in spaghetti graphs.

2. Detailed analysis of each copier and printer manufacturer financial standing and projections.

3. Unrivaled views of our industry, where it was, where it is, and where it might end up.

4. Current reflections and projections around the economic free-fall and the Day After.

5. And of course, especially this year, Managed Print Services and the "experts" who extol the virtues of MPS.

---------------
The Number One piece of information, significant to me, personally -

The recession has bottomed out, but we will not get to pre-recession placement levels.

As a matter of fact, according to Steve and Lyra, we will be losing 2 million units in placement - they will never come back.

It's like 2 million copiers just died.

Huh. If only somebody had seen this coming and publicized his views somewhere easily accessible to others...that person could come up with a snappy title like, "You industry is Dying"...or something...

IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT. - again.


Second to MPS, the next big subject was the economy and the Road to Recovery.

The Industry -

In a nutshell, the industry leaders all sucked wind, some more then others, but still they all ate it, in 2009. An occasional silver linning here and there, accounting trickery, but no surprises.

Steve Reynolds' presentation started by defining Cyclical vs Secular effect of a recession:

Cyclical, meaning a temporary sharp drop followed by a sharp recovery

Secular, meaning the recession causes a permanent and fundamental change in behavior

I have seen for a year now, the economy changing the fundamental way businesses do business. Especially when relating to printing and documents - this is SECULAR.

To quote Steve, "...once enterprises have discovered and implemented more cost-effective processes with less or no printing, they will not go back..."

Indeed, monochrome laser printers, MFP's and color printers shipments will be flat through 2013. The only bright spot being color MFP's with a moderate increase(apx. 250,000 units) between 2010 and 2013.

And if that isn't bad enough, Steve expects a price war to erupt.

You see, as the recession is declared "over", customers will creep back into the market with caution. Hungry vendors will be pressured into getting their share of the new demand.

The feeble and hungry will drop prices to move product, the last gasp.

The strong and carnivorous will lower prices to kill the remaining, weaker players. It's a Japenese model practiced and perfected by Wal*Mart.

Imagine HP reducing their MFP pricing AND toner by 50%. A M9050 for 5k and $40.00 toner? Real, HP toner? Where's your MPS savoir now, third-party toner guy?

Vector this with Photizo's and other's belief of a 50% failure rate, in the BTA channel, by those who have not embraced MPS we have ourselves an honest to goodness Perfect Storm.

Your customers are or already have realized they DON'T NEED AS MANY devices and that they don't need to stock thousands worth of toner in closets.

Why? Because the recession made them look for areas of cost reduction, and the constraints of the last 4 quarters, forced all of us to do with less.

For example, did you lose customers because they couldn't get HP CM6040's even though they gave you a PO last August?

No, you, the VAR/Dealer didn't lose customers. You helped your client get through "these trying times" by encouraging patience and utilizing their existing systems.

Or maybe you helped your client extend his lease on a month to month basis. Copier still work?

We in the field didn't lose customers - HP and the industry, lost placements, lost "clicks" and lost face.

Managed Print Services -

Managed Print Services was all the rage.

Both Ricoh and HP talked about MPS, albeit from the Enterprise level. Well, to be fair, Tom Codd(HP) presentation included one slide dedicated to HP's commitment to driving MPS expertise into the Channel - through Synnex, et el.

Another slide depicting HP's product lineup, in order to show the Canon relationship as a good fit, DID NOT SHOW EDGELINE.

Edgeline? What? Never heard of it...next?

Twice, the name "MPS" was assaulted as not adequate - especially the "P". The phrase "Business Process Outsourcing" was bantered about a couple of times.

It was felt that current MPS ROI is immediate, but where does one go from there?

"One word kid..." Software, the future is in software.

Yup, the Third Stage of MPS, Enhance the Business Process. We barely get people into the 1st and 2nd stages and already stage 3 is upon us. Really? No, really? Business Process Optimization/Outsource?

Are we to expect a channel that still thinks color and duplexing are value prop's posses the wearwithall to talk software and "business process"?

And SELL this? For Greenbacks? (which is just as good as money)

Right.

When a member of the audience asked, "...how do we motivate a copier salesperson to sell software?" the collective response was, are you ready for this, "...increase the commisions on software until you modify the sales persons behavoir..."

I nearly upchucked in my lap, right then and there. And I was a bit insulted. If I was holding a watered down drink in my hand, I woulda thrown it in their faces.

Is this all they, these experts, think motivate the Selling Professional? A few more duckets?

We are truly doomed.

My summary:

MPS is now being swung around by the big players, the definition is being molded in their likeness and most of the data and "play" presented is a product of and pertains to, "Enterprise" level engagements. One exception that I can see, Xerox. X seems to be working 'on'(instead of with) their channel, time will tell.

The economy is in a rebound, but our industry will never be the same. More ships will merge or sink, more dealers will jump into MPS, listen to old skool consultants, run it as a Marketing Campaign and fail. Managed Print Services is a Secular change for dealers; it is not "just like when color came out..."

More MPS Professionals will end up working at OfficeMax, Staples or RiKON.
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