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Monday, February 26, 2018

A Decade of #TheDeathofTheCopier: Really?

Long ago, a decade seemed like forever; "1999" was a far-off party, and 2001 was so distant, that it was science fiction.

When I was young, I couldn't imagine where'd I be beyond 2008.  Today, decades fade away, "like tears in the rain..."

Ten revolutions around the Sun
120 Months
521.4 Weeks
3,650 Days
87,000 Hours

At its peak, The Death of the Copier was coveted; worth stealing. Not for the plain talk, but for the audience.

In 2008, we were busy back-slapping and congratulating ourselves for selling machines like popcorn.  The future was bright; it was never going to end.
  • Ikon was a huge channel of 'independent' dealers.
  • Xerox was like Kleenex.
  • Ricoh and Canon punched it out for the second and third position.
  • HP was on the edge with Edgeline.
  • The rest of the pack was just that, a pack.
Back then, few were 'blogging' about copiers. Out here on the inter-webs, nobody was talking about workflow, managed print services, IT, or business acumen.  Newsletters, magazines, and trade shows were the vehicles of delivery.

On this 10th year anniversary, I've traveled back to the future, re-visiting stories of the love, toner, blood, and tragedy that is DOTC.

I've dug up a few nuggets:

From a DOTC post, "Top 12 of 2008":

"5. LinkedIn - MySpace is all grown up. Much more mature than Facebook with real contacts and real business and NO high school moms pretending to be CEOs...well, maybe. Quite by chance, I fell into LinkedIn. Early, I joined MySpace, Facebook, Plaxo, etc. - but LinkedIn, for some reason has held my attention and gets most of my input when it comes to "social networking"."-  2008.

I talked about Managed Print Services, how copier reps won't naturally progress into the niche, how real MpS requires IT and copier knowledge, and something called Business Acumen.  It was like speaking Latin.

The second post, February 2008: Managed Print Services - That "Hot, New, Thing..."

"A copier salesperson does not directly translate into an MPS specialist.

Nor does an IT Services salesperson translate into an MPS Specialist. It takes both IT experience and copier experience and a great deal of general, C-level, business experience. 

That holy grail of Professional Selling, "Business Acumen". Someone with the "Big Picture" insight and manage the details of a solution."

Honestly, the more things change, the more they stay the same. It's been ten years and we're still struggling to find managed print nirvana.

We still sell copiers.

 How about this one from 2011?  Inspired by the movie Jerry McGuire -

"MPS isn't the end-all, it isn't the only reason to exist - it never has been. Still, with everybody getting in and as many as 50% failing, what now?

With all the OEMs defining MPS ... and reclassifying direct accounts, how can we continue?

Touch More.

More Human Touch. Less PowerPoint. No WebEx meetings, toss the 50 slide business summaries. Instead, press the flesh. Draw on a napkin.

Do that thing we do as sales professionals, look him in the eye and say "thank you, what more can we do, today?"

"Oddest, most unexpected thing..."

Success and change aren't always a result of design. Innovation encroaches from another direction; from the left as we look right, from behind as we look ahead.  Few ever see it coming.

So it is today. As some deny the paperless revolution is near, companies like Alaska Air outfit their 1,400 pilots with iPads.  Apple is making the textbook obsolete and banks accept pictures of checks for deposits. Your kids, don't call each other anymore, they use their thumbs.

From social media to MpS, everything is new and unpredicted - there are no experts - the world moves faster than ever before. No benchmarks, no 'metrics', no comparison, no rules.

Waiting for the revolution? It's already here.

"The Me I always wanted to be" - Trust

Trust. It is a big word and one of the first MPS Conference keynote speaker attempted to rally behind stating, 
"..Trust is something this industry has got to reclaim."

He is new. He doesn't understand to reclaim something, one must have first possessed it.

"I had lost the ability to bullshit, ..."

Our journey continues.

The path is less bumpy when we build partnerships. Partnerships are easier to forge over a foundation of truth. Can you be true?

Can you lose the ability to bullshit? If not to your prospects, at least with yourself. Or are you just another shark in a suit?

Can you see the entire ecosystem?

How about instead of optimizing a smidgen of hardware and some toner, you envision Optimizing Everything?

That's right, everything. Managed Optimization Services.

"That's how you become great, man. Hang your balls out there."

Good Stuff.

What have WE, learned over the past ten years?
  1. The Copier is nearly gone
  2. Old ways die-hard
  3. Situations rarely change, people do
My nostalgic jaunt inspired me to seek out memories from the pioneers of the copier-industry social media world.

Before Twitter.  Before Instaglam. Before LI took off...there was Ken Stewart, Nathan Dube, Jim Lyons, and Art Post.

I asked them for a tidbit of reflection:

From Ken Stewart -

Wow, it's been that long?!?  What I've learned:
  1. Trust God more
  2. Forgive mankind often
  3. Relish the little things
  4. Let people be accountable for their actions
  5. Just because the folks in the hot tub look like they're having a blast, their secrets are hiding under the bubbles!
Nathan Dube -

Things I have learned:
  1. Don’t trust the hype
  2. Disruptive technologies sometimes aren’t and those that are, often take time to produce real change
  3. If the paperless office is coming, I am not seeing it much/at all in New England across most verticals
  4. Storytelling is the best way to market
  5. Everybody hates their printer eventually
  6. The future of marketing IMO lies in gamification and interactive content that is more about entertainment than the product you are trying to sell.
Jim Lyons -

Can't remember EXACTLY how Greg and I became friends, but as what seemed like the only two bloggers in the industry back then it was inevitable we'd become friends as well as colleagues. 

A particular fond memory is when Greg had accepted an invitation to the Lyra Conference (Symposium) - where I'd gone from client to contributor. 

Greg and I had been in touch quite a bit but had never met face-to-face and several of the team (including Photizo folks in attendance, though this was before the merger) were excited to meet Mr. Death of the Copier. As we anticipated his arrival I remember enthusing that this was a very much-needed "young guy" we were welcomed into the fold!!!

Art Post

Nothing stays the same, change is constant.
There is nothing new in sales even though there are thousands of sales gurus on LinkedIn promoting their success when they haven't sold shit in years.

There are many stubborn copier manufacturers that refuse to exit the channel. No one copies anymore.

I've learned that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end of the roll, the faster it goes.

Thanks, guys, for reading DOTC and staying true.

  1. 2008, I was married and living in the mountains of Southern California.  5,000 feet above sea level, an hour from the beach - "...things that have comforted me, I drive away..."
  2. Since 2008, I've moved from SoCali to Charlotte to Oconomowoc, Wisconsin - "...this place that is my home, I cannot stay..."
  3. Over 10 years, I've seen small businesses grow and flourish.  I've met the best of the best and the worst of the worst - "...I come and stand at every door..."
  4. I've Failed - "...If you've ever seen a one-legged dog then you've seen me..."
  5. I've Succeeded - "...I always leave with less than I had before..."
  6. I've become an expert at Starting Over - "...tell me, can you ask for anything more..."
Over the long haul, I've seen the extinction of the typewriter, witnessed the evaporation of the mini and mainframe, and bobbed along the turbulent manual-to-PC-to-network-to-internet-to-cloud waters.

I am fortunate to have a place to express myself.  I'm blessed to be able to write what I would read and humbled others to find something, interesting and possibly entertaining.

10 Years. How about you?

On what field did you stand?  Today, do you still stand?  

Where will you be in 2028?

Two, three, four

Have you ever seen a one trick pony in the field so happy and free?
If you've ever seen a one trick pony then you've seen me
Have you ever seen a one-legged dog making his way down the street?
If you've ever seen a one-legged dog then you've seen me
Then you've seen me, I come and stand at every door

Then you've seen me, I always leave with less than I had before
Then you've seen me, bet I can make you smile when the blood, it hits the floor
Tell me, friend, can you ask for anything more?
Tell me can you ask for anything more?

Have you ever seen a scarecrow filled with nothing but dust and wheat?
If you've ever seen that scarecrow then you've seen me
Have you ever seen a one-armed man punching at nothing but the breeze?
If you've ever seen a one-armed man then you've seen me

Then you've seen me, I come and stand at every door
Then you've seen me, I always leave with less than I had before
Then you've seen me, bet I can make you smile when the blood, it hits the floor
Tell me, friend, can you ask for anything more?
Tell me can you ask for anything more?

These things that have comforted me, I drive away
This place that is my home I cannot stay
My only faith's in the broken bones and bruises I display
Have you ever seen a one-legged man trying to dance his way free?
If you've ever seen a one-legged man then you've seen me

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Today, I spoke with an MpS God - she was just fired. #managedprintservices #sales

I’ve said it many times, “ the path to MpS nirvana is littered with the skeleton frames of burnt out MpS Managers, Directors and Sales People”.

No sour grapes -

I’m sure there are dozens of good reasons for termination and every separation has at least two stories.  In the past decade I've been a Practice Manager, advisor and support specialist. I’ve thrived, struggled and witnessed good people churned under the seven step, "xerographic process".

And that’s exactly what I mean - the copier niche can destroy vision, creativity, and dumb down every business solution into 30 day segments.  Managed print Services is the latest victim, with managed IT services right behind.

Some of our industry leaders are no more than box movers - they confuse ‘applications’ with business solutions and project hubris as wisdom.  Take a trip through the LinkedIN community and notice how many times we compliment each other or brag about the latest sale, certification, trip or baseball team we're associated.

It is one big, circle-jerk.

These are observations not complaints. We all get what we deserve and this industry deserves its decent into obscurity.

But not just yet.

I've seen this before, from above and below and can list cautionary red-flags for the folks still selling MpS.

Here are some signs indicating you should give my friend Steve Spencer(MpS recruiter) a call:
  • lie
  • lack of vision
  • too many rules
  • change the rules
  • filter out all creativity
  • do not see beyond 30 day cycles
  • incentivize for equipment sales only
  • promote month/qtr/year end specials
  • narrow-minded C-Level management
  • put MpS under the service department
  • dependent on hardware/service revenue
  • refuse to integrate MpS and Managed IT services
  • bad, complicated or non-existent compensation plans
  • a corporate culture centered around past copier success
  • focus on leasing and linking equipment inside MpS deals
  • install a C-level executive with little or no experience beyond the box
  • enforce identical activity expectations for support specialists and down the street copier sales people
  • say "X is a major part of the business", yet majority of revenue is copier generated
  • utilize a foggy compensation plan & do not enforce gates on sales teams
Here's a big one: Does your leadership yell? Do your C-Level meetings include loud voices, hands slapping desks and belligerent attitudes?
“You’ve got to be tough out there”
“This industry isn’t for the thin skinned”
“If you can’t take this, you’ll never make it in sales”
I’m no snowflake. This type of behavior says leagues about the yeller and the enabling organization.  At the very least this is unprofessional - would management slam desks or scream at prospects?

When people communicate in this manner, the organization is:
This is not normal behavior - Leave. Now.  Call Steve.

Not every organization operates like this, I bet not many at all.  But if you're in one, in any industry, consider your self-worth and get the hell out.  It's a big world. No matter your current skill set or personal/professional goals, there are companies and positions out here for you.

You're Notbroken.

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Genesis, Evolution and De-evolution of #ManagedPrintServices

I remember the first time somebody said to me, "We've been doing managed print services for 20 years..." that was ITEX, 2008.  Which of course meant this person had been optimizing, assessing, rightsizing, and billing service and supplies on a cost-per-image basis - back in 1988.

"What? Did you bill for re-inked ribbons?"  He was not amused.

Back then, there was a bunch of talk about how MPS was nothing new; the facilities folks had been assessing fleets and selling bodies for years.  The Electronic Document Management guys had been selling scan-to-file for at least a decade and the toner re-manufacturers were old hats at dumpster diving for cores.


The copier-heads saw MpS as a scam; nothing more than a marketing ploy effectively duplicating what they had been doing since 1970.  They laid claim to managed print services.

The move into managed print services took a few years, as OEM after OEM assembled and rolled out their unique program.  Back then, most programs supported a homogenous fleet meaning the "best" MpS solution was one that included the brand "I SELL" versus the brands customers currently utilized - "Rip And Replace" took on a significant meaning.

Months passed. Iterations of software like PrintAudi, FM-Audit, and PrintFleet.  WebJet Admin was HP's software - the most expensive free software you could ever want.  Still, monitoring software was in its infancy.

The MpS world struggled to move away from faxed and manually collected meter reads.  Billing was half the challenge, managing toner shipments incorrectly morphed profitable contracts into nightmare losses.

Shipping costs, undefined commission structures, premature exchanges of toner, and blown motherboards killed many MpS endeavors.  The smart guys looked at meter reads and toner usage data as possible predictors.  Algorithms were developed and applied to create predictive models of toner usage down to the device.

Golden Age of MpS.

As MpS matured, the advanced players moved from 'hardware agnostic' to 'hardware neutral' covering multiple vendors' devices.

Toner fillers and re-manufacturers got into the game as well, assembling and providing managed print services programs complete with data collection agents, mapping software bundled with sales training, and marketing deliverables.

Everybody, even traditional IT VARs, jumped into the MpS ocean.  MpS was full of possibilities, a departure from copiers toward IT and beyond.  ITEX stacked the floor with MpS providers and training sessions - we even had a Managed Print Services Conference.

But a funny thing happened on the way to MpS nirvana. By 2015 MpS had come full circle - the pioneers of the MPS rarely appear, MPS consulting firms fade away leaving MpS training to the "drill and fills".  Manufacturers release dozens of A4 devices like it was always their idea.  In an interesting twist of irony, the biggest critics of managed print services find themselves leading MpS organizations.

Everyone ignored the Signs.  Small OEDs slipped into history or glommed on to bigger dealers - circling the wagons and selling out.  Dawn of The Planet of the Mega Dealer

The Late, Great MpS

Today, 2018 dealers, full of hubris and dripping with chunk-watches, brag about 30% cost reductions, all the while installing A3 for end users who've forgotten what tabloid paper looks like. Prospects implement print policies on their own, realizing the folly of letting companies that derive revenue from prints help them reduce print.

Founding members of the industry transform: 

Lexmark, once an American darling, sells out to an arch enemy.  Xerox, a one-time American, corporate icon, begs her neighbor for shelter.  HP, Lady Blue, suffers through Edgeline, TouchPad and Leo, breaks in two and emerges stronger.

This has happened before, industries rise and fall.  Weaving machines displace textile workers. Horsepower replaces manpower.  Automobiles supplant horses.   One day soon, managed print services will be the buggy-whip of the once prevalent, Copier Industry.

And that's okay - it is the Way of Things.

Click to email me.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

New to Copier Sales? What Are You, Nuts?

“When I grow up, I want to sell copiers and printers,” said nobody, ever.

"If two years ago you told me I would be selling copiers, I would have slugged you in the head,” said new reps everywhere.

An aunt to her nephew over Thanksgiving dinner: “What do you do for a living now that you’ve graduated, Johnny?”

“I help companies manage and reduce the costs associated with documents!”

“Oh. You sell copiers. That’s nice. Could you pass the potatoes?"

For those of you who have been in the business for more than a couple of years, you may find the above statements apropos, if not a bit painful. I wanted to be an astronaut once, but the closest thing I’ve gotten to Star Trek is my iPad. I do know the seven steps of the xerographic process, however, so I’ve got that going for me.

Regardless, let’s say you’re a fresh-out-of-school, new copier sales representative. Perhaps you’ve taken a sales class in college, worked retail over the summer, or your friends and family tell you, “You’re such a people person, you should be in sales." Congratulations, you are more than qualified.

As a newbie, your target market is going to be what we love to call “down the street” copier sales. Everybody starts here; many stay. Down the street (DTS) selling is just that; your prospects are located up and down the street and, like the Fuller Brush man, you’re expected to prospect to these small businesses — funeral homes, real estate offices, insurance agents, auto dealers and shops, HVAC, construction, electrical subcontractors, trucking companies, churches and the ever popular print-for-pay businesses.

But the best way to approach this segment is not through a precise email campaign, massive research or a cute social media program. The proven method is a combination of door-knocking and over-the-phone cold calling. That’s it. It’s hard work, no doubt, and the first step in the journey to major and strategic accounts management.

Here’s how these DTS accounts behave:

Read the rest, here.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Today's 3D Printers are Like the Apple IIe of 1987

A recent article on America’s dying industries on the website 24/7 Wall St. included industries such as “curtain and linen mills,” “formal wear and costume rental” and “professional employer organizations.” To perhaps no one’s surprise it also included industries including “bookstores and news dealers,” “newspaper publishers,” “other publishers” and, coming in last on the list, “office supplies, except paper, manufacturing.”

Following on to the last item, the site goes on to explain, “Office supplies manufacturing is one of many industries in the United States negatively affected by the increasing digitization of the workplace ... The increasing ability to store documents and other data virtually has rendered fax machines and photocopiers less necessary and reduced demand for office supplies manufacturing. Employment in the industry has fallen by 42.1 percent since 2007, among the most of any sector.”

Tell us something we don’t know.

The search for new revenue streams continues.  Read the rest, here.

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Greg Walters, Incorporated