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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Selling Managed Print Services 101


MPS is all I talk about...ok, not ALL. I do talk about Half-Life, Land Rovers and Paintball, but enough about me, let's talk about me...

I have been performing MPS assessments pretty heavily over the past few weeks and I find that although we have a great deal of tools, I am still making things up as I go along.

After reading Ken’s post I knew I had to complete my current article. Ken’s post resonated with me regarding the Tools of MPS -

Current MPS tools consist of spreadsheets, interview forms, data collection sheets, automated data collection devices/software, supplies cost matrixes, etc. 

All geared around collecting the Technical data, i.e. volumes, lease end dates, lease payments, overages, 11x17, first copy out speed, duplex...blah blah blah...this data is mundane and acquiring it is fatiguing, but necessary.

The data is one dimensional and any “monkey” can collect it.

Unfortunately to some providers and many customers this is the extent of the information used in the analysis. Even more disappointing, the assessment to some, IS the proposal.

The Second Most Important MPS Tool: The Interview -

When interviewing, many issues are exposed, some that may not at first seem to be MPS related.
The idea here is simple - the End User interview, the Director interview, and the C-Level interview are all treasure laden conversations. 

Corporate directives, cultural issues, political hurdles, and decision making processes all become apparent as progression is made through the organization.

As an example, I am currently working 3 separate assessments for 3 clients - one is what I call a "Mini-Assessment"; which means we are only looking at 25 copiers out of a fleet of 220.

The idea is to analyze these units for fiscal '08, get the refresh approved, and continue the study into year's end for fiscal '09 upgrades. The goal of this study is to form a Standard Requirements List for all future hardware/copier acquisitions.

The overall organizational goals are:

  1. Reduce operational costs by 5% without “Reductions In Field”
  2. Increase employee job satisfaction
  3. Improve Customer Service
Covering All the Bases – Strategic Approach
When interviewing the questions asked important but the people you ask are much more important. This is my personal application of a strategic approach. I see four types of interviewee’s:

Your Coach
The Technicals
The End User
Project’s Economic Influence

Your Coach
This person is convinced that MPS is the way to go. And he wants to see the project (and you) succeed.
The Technicals
These folks hold “go/no go” over the final recommendations. Their perspective is on the functional issues of the program. They are focused on issues like network compatibility, end-user support functions, invoicing and billing procedures, and maybe all the way down to duplex capabilities of the hardware.
The End User
The End User must be satisfied. When interviewing and speaking with the End User you must have a clear idea of what direction the organization wants to move. For instance, if one of the basic goals is to reduce all the locally connected, desktop inkjet printers, check with IT to insure how they want to approach the subject.

  • The End User has a wealth of “everyday issues” that cause work flow bottlenecks. Their visibility into the organization is restricted but at the local level the information obtained can be very illuminating.

    Economic Influencer(s)
    This entity releases the funds necessary to move forward with the project. Interested in cost reduction and R.O.I. and is probably already spending a great deal of money.
    These interviews are most likely the C-Level players. I do not recommend asking the CEO if “duplexing is important…”
    Additionally, if while covering the Economic Influencer, it is revealed that MPS does not hold a high degree of attention, you may NOT want to proceed.
    (See Strategic Selling for more on the above influencers)

    Any successful project includes covering ALL these bases with relevant (from their perspective) questions.

    Imagine – if you were to contact ALL the above types of users - your picture of the organization’s output fleet would be detailed to the nth degree. And hopefully, this data would allow to make a solid, agreeable recommendation proven to positively impact the organizations overall goals.

    Want to know more? Check out Ken's articles:

    Managed Print Services: the Theory, the Tools, and the Targets (Part 1 of 3)

    Managed Print Services: the Theory, the Tools, and the Targets (Part 2 of 3)

    Managed Print Services: the Theory, the Tools, and the Targets (Part 3 of 3)

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    Greg Walters, Incorporated