Sunday, March 29, 2009

Managed Print Services and IT Services Providers

I have been trying to get my head around this for the last 90 days - Why has it been challenging for some firms to engage and succeed at providing MPS?

Why are dealers trashing their young, MPS Practice?

"Struggling" as a description is too harsh, I think the current MPS situation falls more into the "growing pains" stage.

The opportunity is real.

And there is an awful lot of activity focused on those (dealers) who are at least interested in going for MPS.

From a 10,000 foot view, you can see this in the way the "MPS Experts" are scurrying out of the woodwork - about 3 times as many as there were when the Photizo Group started.

From the trenches, I see the hurdles, see the problems and I understand the challenges - there are basically two(today).

Selling and Buying.

Selling -

For me, it is becoming clear, again, that it is all about the Sale and selling - Selling cures everything.

If you want your manager off your back, sell something. Want a new car, sell something; a trip to Florida and Disney World, sell something.

If you want to penetrate the new MPS niche, sell something - and this is the rub. As we all know, MPS needs to sell to facilities, IT, end users, and C-levels.

These three buying influences have their unique decision-making criteria and process - they speak their own language.

Salespeople who address these levels address the unique issues contained at each level and find it a challenge to switch from one to the other. Facilities works with contracts and CPC; IT with network compatibility and ease of support.

Providers/sellers of good MPS programs consist of either copier/print salespeople, supplies/service vendors, or IT providers. These three sales models are all very different.

For instance, the IT provider is very good at pricing and delivery.

The selling process within most IT companies are supported by inside "account managers" and outside Business Development Managers(BDMs). The BDM's "maintain the customer relationship" as the account managers handle the quoting, and order processing on a day-to-day basis.

The BDMs are not hunters. The BDMs have had it gravy for a while. They zero in on the purchasing agents, try to placate or impress the IT managers and sell on price alone. Deal registration and back-end rebates are just a means to sell products at 3 points.


If a BDM sells a deal at 10 points or above - he gets a ticker-tape parade around the office.

I sincerely doubt any BDM with an IT service provider today even knows who the heck Glengarry Glenn Ross is, yet owns all of the Lord of the Rings movies. (not there is anything wrong with that)

A typical talk track of a BDM selling into their space may go something like this:

"Do you have an IT purchaser? Who is that? know, if I register you with CISCO, I can get you the lowest pricing available...Cost Per Copy? huh?...oh you mean printers, yes we can sell printers..."

I have seen this with my own eyes.

Almost as tragic is the Copier guy trying to sell to the IT influence. A typical talk track for the copier Sales Executive selling into the IT space -

"...all my machines connect to your network just like your HPs...Security? Sure, we can have your users log on to our machines using their already familiar network, well actually, yes, we can service your HPs, until we consolidate your fleet into Ricoh...let me have you talk to my EDM specialist..."

I have seen this with my own eyes.

The second challenge I see is "Buying"-

Not a customer buying your product or services, but your executive management/ownership buy-in.

Again, there is no secret here either. Change is scary and equates to risk. The risk is bad today. We hear it from the highest office in the nation, the talking heads on cable, and the man in the street.

Unlike ownership, I have complete and total trust that good selling professionals can morph into Hybrid Selling Professionals.

These doubts I harbor revolve around the antiquated, equipment-centric, 30-day cycle, transactional views of some dealership owners - On both the IT and Copier side.

But - today, that is to say within the last 30 days or so, I have seen the excitement swirling around MPS drive more and more dealers from the "interested" stage into the "implementation" stage.

Also, I.T. departments seem to be willing to appoint people who talk Managed Print Services
more than they are with the technology sales executive discussing data storage, blades, etc.

It looks like "Supply" may actually need to catch up with "Demand" - not a bad place to be.

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  1. As a visitor coming from a Print for Pay offset and digital background, I wanted to share what I think I've seen when printers were trying to figure out how to be "marketing solutions providers". Some made it, and are doing pretty well.

    Maybe this is something you are already going to do at the upcoming conference, but in any case, I wanted to get it on your radar.

    Don't "educate" with talk and chalk. Share successful case stories. But not from the point of view of "buy this silver bullet and all your problems will be solved."

    Since independents have no time for bullshit, don't bullshit.

    It's always about the customer base you have and sharing the talk track that worked, and even more important the talk tracks that didn't work.

    Then have discussions figuring out what didn't work and revise as necessary.

    Given what I've read at your blog, I'm pretty sure you get it. But just wanted to bring the hard won experience at the Print-for-Pay side.

    Hope it's helpful.

  2. Dr.

    Thanks for commenting - and yes, "reference selling" is a staple of the Selling Professional.

    And I understand completely.

    I like your point about "...discussions figuring ot what didn't work..." This reflects a customer centric, managed project approach.


    Keep coming back.

    PS - I really did struggle with this subject. All the variables are in flux right now making it difficult to nail down.

  3. IMHO, the ideas are in flux, because the world is going through the biggest change in printed communication since Gutenberg invented movable type. I know that sounds like bs, but I'm convinced it's literally true.

    If financial globals, newspaper globals and media globals don't know what to do, I wouldn't worry too much about not knowing exactly what's next.

    The opportunity for independents is they don't have time for bullshit, and if you act like an asshole, you're not going to close.

    No bullshit & Not acting like an ahole is all you really need to remember to win. Just another version what moma said.

    One reason it's harder to figure out is that plain words that everyone understands are forbidden. They're not polite.

    Thank you for this blog, where I feel comfortable using plain language.

  4. Holy bajoly!

    I have struggled, continue to struggle, and most likely will struggle with this concept (as well as verb tense conjugation - talking about talk & chalk) ;-)

    It happens less now, but I use to leave meetings with perspective and current customers realizing I simply could not position my value proposition and racking my brain to see just what I was missing...

    It might be easy for me to blame the 20 year relationship the rep had with the purchasing agent, or the fact that the customer just missed the boat - but I think you hit on some very important points.

    Afterall, don't mix it up on me. I Fudrucker's for a really good burger and Sushi Masa for the best spicy tuna roll in town. But I don't get the french fries at Sushi Masa. Sure they have them, but that divide just doesn't make sense in my head...

    That's our job, to break down the barrier and skill of our craft helps with this. However, I do see more interest out there with the talk tracks of MPS. Why now? Why now after I've been talking security, control, cost-reduction, over-sight, management ad naseum for over 3 years now?

    Timing? Maybe, but the fact remains more talking about and asking about MPS is occuring than ever. You and I (and those willing and able) are poised to deliver true bottom & top line results.

    You take the tops and I'll take the bottoms ;-)(From a childrens' book my daughter loves).