Monday, July 21, 2008

Managed Print Services: Leading Edge and Bleeding Edge

Don't let the SALES GUY touch the machine!

I recently had the honor of attending a training session intended for "technical" types. Both pre-sale and post sale technicians were in attendance - about 13 of them and 1 of me. Resellers from all over the country - Edgeline resellers; Edgeline technicians.

That's right. 13 tech's and one sales person. Oh the fun we will have.

The classes were covering Job Accounting for session one and Printing Security in session two.

I won't bore you with the details, but I will tell you this - early in the first session the instructor queried, "...what's going on out there in the field, do your customers seem to be interested in reducing printing costs?" - I am paraphrasing the question but the response, or better yet lack of response, I am not.

The collective answer? "Nope." "Not on any customers mind or radar.", "They just want to reduce their lease payment, that's all"

I fell out of my chair - I blurted it out, "MPS is the hottest issue out there right now, if you think your customers aren't on it, you are wrong." - And my reward for being one of the first to contribute to class discussion?

Dead silence. Blank stares. Crickets.

The first time I participate in class, and this is what I say? I felt it was going to be a very long two days.

Well, the experience improved - a great deal. The guys represented the highest level of certification available from HP. I found everyone engaging and knowledgeable about the industry and their place in it.

We all have common struggles, challenges and successes.

Still -

After reading Ken's articles, "Crossing the Document Output Divide" and "Customers Don’t Know What They Don’t Know." I wonder exactly where MPS is in the industry. It doesn't feel mainstream. It feels new and frontier-like. It feels like we are still making this up as we go along.

I wonder about the blank stares and shrugged shoulders I observed in class. I wonder about the blank stares I receive after I explain my version of MPS to a prospect.

With Managed Print Services, "Bleeding Edge" and "Early Adopters" are titles not only applied to prospect types but also Provider types.

This is a special time.

Leaders Lead.

Click to email me.


  1. Greg, since the audiences widely vary, most equate saving money as lowering their lease payment. However, you and I know the true case - and in dealing with CFO's, if you ask the question and present a plan for strategic cost reductions they will surely perk their ears.

    Savvy IT types might, but they are simply looking at offsetting costs in one area of the business to pay for another, as a general rule.

    So your tech friends may very well be right on... it is still up to the "leaders" to educate their clients - but I can't tell you the frustration when I see something and my clients do not.

    It is obvious to me why I am not in sales, at that point ;-)

    I see a course of action, after weighing the benefits and costs, and choose to move. Many clients are much more pragmatic (some estimates put the number at about 70% of us), where as I am an early adopter by nature. I blaze trails...

    So it is that I am part of a company that does the same, and we must bleed first for our customers and then we will know the truth of it and can evangelize that truth...

  2. I think both Ken and Greg bring up interesting questions. Based upon our research, the market is just emerging out of the 'early adoptor' mode into the 'mainstream'. Unfortunately, I believe in many cases customers are actually slightly ahead of the reseller community. Not all resellers mind you, but certainly the 'majority'. That is why we see resellers that have embraded MPS and are actually developing strong MPS capabilities as having a significant advantage in the market.

    One interesting factoid from our on-going survey of MPS decision makers (100 interviews per quarter), over half are in their first MPS engagement. Clearly a sign of a market shifting from early adopters to the mainstream.