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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Why Your Company Doesn't Need a #Copier

All you need is a scanner.

You know you aren't copying as much as you once had been.

WE know you aren't copying as often, too. Heck, we've known for decades you rarely, if ever, copy or print on tabloid, 11x17. So why have we been selling you devices capable of melting plastic on larger sheets of dead tree matter?

Because bigger machines look more impressive, that's why. You've been fooled into believing 'those little printers can't keep up with the bigger copiers...' You've been lied to.

Here's why we've been overselling you for decades:

More sales commission - Entry-level salespeople are compensated on REVENUE. Bigger devices have bigger price tags supporting larger commissions.

Manufacturers quotas - Dealers purchase toner and parts from the manufacturers (OEMs) they sell. These OEMs contract a certain number of devices to be purchased monthly. When a provider fails to meet these commitments, the manufacturer will the cost of toner and parts, thereby reducing margins on the bread and butter of EVERY copier dealer-service contract.

Cheaper cost per image - This issue is especially evil because it is based on truth. Copiers have a less expensive cost per image. Meaning, you'll pay less for USING a copier vs. printing on a traditional printer. If your volumes are in the 10k/emp range, this is a consideration. When calculating YOUR true cost per image, roll in the amortized equipment or machine lease cost into your service cost.

More retail value - Tricky issue, this. Let's just say the retail(which nobody ever charges) value of a device can determine how much soft costs can be shoved into your equipment lease. "Soft cost" is defined as anything from existing buyout figures, software & installation costs, or profit.

Reasons you don't need a copier:

You don't copy any more

At one point in history, employees generated about 10,000 images a month on copiers and printers - this was a per-employee figure.

Today, employees can generate NO images per month let alone copy. Look at your processes. Do you email invoices? Do you accept online payment? Do you still make copies of every invoice you receive?

You never print on 11x17

One of the determining factors when deciding to buy a copier is paper size - original and finished. In the olden days, books and manuals were routinely copied. "Book Copy" was a standard or sought-after feature. A scanner the size of 11x17 was convenient but a bigger scanner means bigger rollers and trays. More power consumption for larger bulbs. Almost twice the size of a 'little printer' - with twice the manufacturing costs.

We knew this. But it was easy to see 'bigger is better and good for everyone on this side of the table.

Paper is slow

Chances are your competition is looking into automating manual processes like Accounts Payables/Receivable. Nobody looks to invest in software to save trees. Your business is nimble and responsive and paper-based business functions are slower and more apt to mistakes than digitized processes.

Are you moving at the speed of thought or the speed of paper?

In the end, the market will determine winners and losers - somebody somewhere will need or require copiers. Indeed, right now there is somebody purchasing buggy-whips.

But you don't ride a horse to work, do you?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The #LastCopierSold

Everything dies, baby that's a fact, but just because something doesn't last forever, doesn't mean it wasn't perfect.  Proclaimed back in 2011, the fading of managed print services continues.  Don't believe me?  

Ask your customers/prospects and you'll hear the truth. Whispers from the Abyss:

  • "We've really cut back on the number of printers and copiers we use."
  • "We don't print as much."
  • "We once had a copier on every floor and printers at each desk.  We don't anymore."
I could go on - hell, if you're in the field and honest, YOU can add to the above list.

So here it is - what follows is a list of industry influencers and players with reflections and status according to DOTC.

The year is 2017; just about 10 years after managed print services arrived on the scene. Much has changed.

The Last Battlestar - The Industry

The final battle has been played out - in the blink of an eye, we're looking at a new world, fresh opportunities, starting from scratch.

The 'fading X' is shuffling business into the channel, Lexmark assimilated, Ricoh jettisoning crew members while HP becomes half the company she once was.

The dealer channel continues to shutter and meld - like mother blue, the number of dealers is half what they use to be.

"There Must Be Some Kind of Way Out of Here"

Gods - we had plenty.

In the old days, our industry supported a plethora of expensive educators matriculating the ways of the copier sale.  Burying the buy-out, backloading usage, and avoiding escalation/auto-renewal discussion. We counted empty boxes as inventory and slid copiers into warehouses next door.

Oh yeah, that happened.

Visionaries have come and gone leaving the old guard frustrated, tired, and full of disbelief - how could so many ignore so much?

But we go on.

A new generation of office equipment professionals keeps entering the fray.  Fresh graduates from around the world are easily recruited with medium size salaries, double-digit commission rates, and cars.

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, some of these new recruits don't realize they'll be selling copiers until the third day of company orientation; so thick is our marketing babel.

Be that is it may - the new generation is one of Hope.

Our industry is going through the final stage of evolution, shedding old ideas and superstitions.  This 'last jump' is going to be a doozie - it will be sudden, catastrophic, and unclear.  The ship is old, she's made her last jump ending a million light-years away.

The best part? You are Galactica, we are Galactica. It matters not that the industry dives into the Sun. You make the difference, you carry on when the OEMs and dealers collide.  You move forward as volumes drop.

You can start over.

The Last Star Fighter - Xerox
Old fashioned and artificial, the X is just that - fading.  She tried to spread beyond the frontier, but surrendered to her fate: a copier company does not an information technology (IT) company, make.

Tough lesson.

Global Imaging, a Xerox company, continues to collect logos.

It will not make a difference.  The GunStar is fighting her last battle without the benefit of "Death blossom".  Expect a smaller footprint from X.

The Last Enterprise - HP
The Enterprise never dies.

So it is with HP(Mother Blue).

Her metamorphosis is timeless, eternal.  Of course, each new skin is just that - shinny on the outside, same uniforms on the inside.

Lens flare, red shirts, chain of command, and the Prime Directive - HP personified.

The assimilation of Samsung enhances and intensifies Starfleet's resolve and sets the table for an HP decade.  New devices, utilizing ink instead of toner, serviced directly with Instant-Ink and MPS vans is the model of the future.  The printer calls for service, and supplies and even orders its replacement.

No copier salespeople. No Dealers. No third-party toner.

The Last Jedi - Copier Salespeople
Talk about timeless, the copier salesperson ruled the galaxy, supporting countless families for decades.

But the Jedi were emasculated, scattered, and forgotten - relegated to legend and myth.

Today's Jedi are taught the ways of the past - 30-day cycles, revenue-based compensation, separate A4 and A3, burying equipment into the service agreement, flipping the MIF,  and paper will always be relevant.

There is Hope, but it isn't in the print Galaxy.  Sales skills are both learned and transferable - today you're selling copiers to churches, and next month you could be selling HVAC systems.

Today, you're presenting managed print services, next month you're talking about cost reduction through Energy Control Services.

The Last Samurai - Dealers
The road to MpS nirvana, which ended up being nothing more than perdition, is littered with burned-out managed print services salespeople, specialists, managers, and directors.

Even today, the adulterated definition permeates: how can you claim a managed print services focus yet refer to MpS as "the little machines" and separate A3 from A4?   Get off your dinosaur.

Both the bane and savior of the industry, the "independent", indirect channel has been shrinking for decades.  IKON collected the best of the best in the '90s only to be swallowed by Ricoh.

In 2007, Xerox, through Global, started buying up local dealers - they haven't stopped here in 2017.

The dealer-on-dealer consumption rate seems to increase with each month.  But the day will come, soon, when we have two or three major dealers across the country - all things must end - just like Tower Records and Incacomp.

The Last Gunslinger - MpS Salespeople
Once, when the world of Wizards and Glass was young, there were many Gunslingers.  Idealistic and full of hope, these Visionaries honed magical skills - dispatching MpS agreements from the heart.

Profitable and vast, Mid-World was wide open - printers ran amok.

The Gunslingers rode in assessing and installing - reducing prints, clicks, images, cost, devices, and headache.

The time was glorious.

Today, MpS reps are a dime a dozen - a cross between copier and toner salesperson, the typical salesperson is just that: a typical salesperson.  No Acumen, Depth, or Vision, today's drones...drone on about their MpS program, customer retention rate, and company growth.  They bloviate about "30% cost reduction", "automatic toner-fulfillment", "60-month contracts" and "Service SLAs", fooled into believing these points are relevant.

Gone are the discussions about business problems, how managed print services is a program that connects IT and office automation; how MpS are business process optimization.

It's too easy to sell on price and normal to pitch 'cost savings' over convenience - the posers are always red-handed.

Roland is the Last and Ka is a wheel - everything ends at the beginning.

The Last Word
The copier niche has a few good years left as consolidation, and less need for print and HP to converge.  I've said it before and will continue to preach:  There is no better place to acquire sales skills so learn all you can.  The industry is full of bullshit - there is no such thing as top-down loyalty so don't expect any - believe in yourself, not your current employer.  Learn all you can - not just product knowledge but observe how your manager behaves, and what motivates your regional/district manager.  Regard every step ownership makes; with employees, customers, and your partners.

It is difficult to look into the fire, while you are in the flames, but the most valuable lessons are learned through indirect observation, not specific teachings. "You learn more from a three-minute record than you ever learn in school."  Soak everything in, but with a grain of salt.

Remember, all the motivation and talk about how leadership is there to "help you be successful" is manipulation.  

The talk track shifts to motivation as soon as you see it as an attempt to manipulate you into being a "company person".  Which isn't terrible, the machine requires cogs.

But you're in sales, you can do anything.

In the end, this doesn't mean your journey is over - the Journey never, ever ends - The Last MpS is another stone in the river of life.


Enjoy the ride.

"Everything dies baby that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on fix your hair up pretty And meet me tonight in Atlantic City"

Hollywood Has Been F*cked for Decades(Literally and Figuratively)

Last night, I was scrolling through XM and came upon an oration that caught my ear. The host was articulating his experiences with the Hollywood elites/liberals.

I spent some 12 years on the coast and loved every second of it. I did find it odd that the land of Regan and Nixon had so many conservative 'haters'.

And "hate" is the right word.

At one Christmas party, high in the San Bernardino mountains, the hostess went on to explain how she wished, "President Bush would die." Over and over she said this - so often that I felt threatened by the President. I skirted around the issues at hand, the Iraq War, and tried to discuss the food, the drink, the Christmas tree, or the weather - anything but the politics of the day.

She wasn't having it.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Yes, paper-less offices are real. "And they're Spectacular."


In an episode of Seinfeld, Jerry's gorgeous new girlfriend's lovely breasts become the subject of conjecture; are they real or implants. Elaine thinks they're fake so Jerry decides not to see her again. Elaine changes her mind after tripping and falling into the ample bosom. 

Again, the "paperless office will never exist" debate is grabbing headlines and copy.  Good stuff, if not factually spun.

I've been face-to-face with organizations that significantly reduced the number of copiers, printers, and reams of paper utilized.  
  • A major retail company went from 100 or so devices to 10
  • Health network(s) go from huge file rooms to no filing cabinets at all
  • Manufactures shifted away from paper-based job jackets to digital files
These companies didn't feel compelled to save the trees or Chewbaccas.  Prospects tell me they squeeze paper out of the process because "paper slows everything."

Contrary to real-world observations, a slew of headlines expressing paper "alive and well" permeate our environment.

It makes sense for an OEM or industry insider to orient a paperless philosophy around their multifunction device or slab of software, yet they are, at best, missing the point or worse, promoting a lie. 

Your prospects are moving to digital workflows not because a copier allows the transition, they are making the journey because paper is an inefficient medium for transporting data.  No client is going to express it that way - they'll say things like, "... we want to process more accounts receivables, quicker" or "our current way of processing service calls is cumbersome, negatively affecting our customer satisfaction and losing us customers."

Tell me how a copier is going to help your customer retain clients.

Before the copier sellers get all riled up, people are still buying/leasing copiers.  The 'down the street' copier salesperson can still make a living -  but the clock has been ticking - you won't be selling to manufacturers or distribution companies much longer because as you read this, EVERYBODY is looking at eliminating redundant, paper-based, manual processes.
Ask yourself, or better yet, ask your prospects:

"Are you printing and copying more nowadays?" 

Don't rely on your vendors or management, ownership, or industry 'studies' sponsored by manufacturers.

They are not telling you the truth.  "They" want you to work the down-the-street business, even as it reduces.  Your ownership MUST manage to OEM quotas - for discounts/margins, marketing funds, and supporting bloated service departments. 

Our industry is contracting, NOT GROWING. How many dealers have been scooped up?  From Ikon to Global Imaging to today's resellers circling the wagons(or is it the drain?), the number of providers fades just as fast as monthly clicks in a Kofax/DocuWare solution.

THAT IS THE PROBLEM.  It's a mirage, a trap to believe YOUR, specific increase in placed devices represents "recovery" or growth.  Look at the total images generated - they are buying but not using devices.

So What?

This is why recognizing the signs is important: If you're in the industry of putting marks on paper, this will not last.

  1. MpS is working - print is being managed out of business
  2. People are organically printing less - yup.
  3. Paper is too slow - yup, yup.
What to do:
  1. Learn as much as you can about sales, business, and technology.
  2. See your future beyond the printer/copier; think managed services, the internet of everything, and remote workers.
  3. Question everything the established, industry players tell you; your dealership, OEMs, software firms, paper companies, toner manufacturers, consultants, and industry data analysts are motivated to keep you believing a falsehood.
  4. Look to getting into 'managed services sales.  More advanced resellers consider output devices just another IT asset and fold MpS into managed IT services; there aren't too many of these people.  Still, the next temporary, upward curve is managed IT.
  5. Figure out how to manage your manager.
  6. Stop thinking you're not good enough to talk with the C-Suite; if you stop selling and start solving, they will listen to you.
  7. Take the company logo off your LI profile, and stop bragging about your latest technology show or sales accomplishment - nobody(opportunities & clients) gives a shit.
  8. Build your personal brand - NOT YOUR EMPLOYER'S. If your employer isn't paying for your account, why should they benefit? 
  9. Do the cold calls, and make the dials.  It's basic, but valuable beyond all the hype.
  10. Speaking of basics, stop telling, start asking, and then shut the hell up.
The dumbest thing I hear today is, "Print is relevant, again."  

Paperless offices are real, and they are spectacular.

Contact Me

Greg Walters, Incorporated