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Monday, December 14, 2009

2009 - "Copier Industry: Change or Die."

I was sitting in on a super-secret, MPS industry insider Webinar the other day.

I admit because I am all things MPS, little surprises me when discussing the MPS Ecosystem - except the freakin obvious and blatant issues that have been right in front of me all along.

I was half listening to the presenter answer the question, "how do we, as dealers, go from a Stage One MPS(equipment-centric) dealer to a Hybrid Dealer?"

Waiting for the inevitable, "you need Ownership buy-in" or the tried and true, "you need a strong infrastructure to support your MPS Team" and the ever popular, "retrain your Sales Staff", I was half paying attention.

Nope. Nadda, zip.

The answer was,

"CHANGE PEOPLE. It's too difficult to re-train from a transaction-based sell to consultative-based sell."

Shall I translate?

If you are selling copiers today, you had better change your ways and go with a company that still thinks they can train you into a consultative selling cycle before they figure out it's too difficult to teach old dogs new tricks.

But it's worse.

If the salespeople can't be changed then sales management can't be re-tooled, so they must go as well. Up the food chain, it goes until it ends with the King Bottle Washer himself, the Owner - on top, and all alone.

Granted, we should consider all factors. For instance, the fact that right now, there are likely 7,000 dealers, out of 15,000 or so, who have embraced MPS.

The old statistic (Photizo) stated that 50% of the folks who don't embrace MPS will be gone - but things have changed.

"CHANGE PEOPLE. It's too difficult to re-train from a transaction-based sell to consultative-based sell."

Now, if you aren't changing to the Hybrid Dealership model, not the iTex one, you will be gone.

That means that even if you do embrace MPS, if you aren't all in, you will be all out. Understand?

I know what you're thinking, "Sure, you big goof, copier sales are changing, but MPS is just the latest marketing scheme designed to sell more units. Everybody will need a copier, forever."

If you are a reader of mine, you may remember an article or two where I go off the deep end proclaiming that one day, HP won't sell printers. Yeah, right, I'm nuts.

A little History Lesson:

There once was a company, a global company, whose selling model included always sending at least 3 company representatives to every sales call. This company was the behemoth of technology. Large, foreboding, industry-defining - they told their customers what to order and how much to pay.

Nearly every person on the planet at one time or another had heard of this company. They were the barometer of American Technology - what was good for them, was good for the country.

America sent men to the moon and the back of this company's knowledge.

It seemed at times, that they would be around forever - selling bigger, faster, and more expensive devices. Devices are in high demand and built by only this company. Their equipment defined business processes and demanded their customers bend to the needs of the machines.


International Business Machines, Big Blue, Big Iron, IBM. In 1977, IBM had 300,000 employees.

The PS/2, ThinkPad, System 36, AS400 - OS/2, token ring...all gone. When IBM made the decision to move from the hardware business to business process and finally into Business Services - people thought they were nuts.

Manufacturing plants shut down. Divisions were sold off. Ten's of thousands of employees are gone.

How do you think those "big iron" salespeople responded?

Do you think the same people who sold these colossi one day just decided to offer business consulting?

No. No, they did not one day just decide to offer business consulting.

Sure, Big Blue tried to retrain. At the time, IBM's training regiment was known to be the best in the industry, the best anywhere; weeks were spent in Armonk, NY.

How do you think that went? Well, one day, somebody somewhere looked at this new business model, looked at all the training that had gone on, and then, glanced at the net new accounts list - it didn't add up.

So, did they redo their infrastructure or vamp up the marketing? Did IBM hire a bunch of consultants and try one more time to retrain the sales team?



By the way, the one who let this cat out of the bag, was with IBM back then. Huh.

This has all happened before, in nearly every industry; technology, transportation, entertainment, hospitality, automobile...publishing, music...every niche...airports, filling stations, grocery stores, and retail.

Why should our little, 3 decades old, industry be any different?

I for one think we need to CHANGE PEOPLE. By CHANGE PEOPLE, I mean to change the way you are, not the members of the team.

Copier folks, anyone who sells in this crazy mixed-up world of output, are the most resilient and adaptive bunch out here, in the real world.

We can change. You can change.

Study history, or be doomed to repeat it.


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