In these tough times, the print market is more competitive than ever and many resellers are struggling to preserve sales and profits. However, some are turning to managed print services (MPS) for a guaranteed revenue stream over a contracted time frame.
But what if you lack the sales skills or the resources to offer MPS? Success in selling MPS will depend to a great extent on how resellers pitch to prospects. And there is still uncertainty in the market about exactly what MPS is.
Resellers need to cut through any confusion and provide a concise explanation of the approach. They must educate prospective customers about the benefits - mainly improved print efficiency and reduced print spend. You may get only one opportunity to win a piece of new business, so if the pitch is misjudged or mistargeted, the opportunity to sell to that customer may have gone forever.
Drawing on the resources of third parties - such as knowledgeable vendors, with useful offerings - to deliver all or part of the MPS solution helps ensure that all costs are known and fixed, so any margin made becomes pure profit.
Print vendors should be able to offer resellers as much - or little - support as they need, whether it be training, marketing collateral, demo kit, help with developing business cases, or flexible billing. Vendors should also be able to help the reseller estimate savings for the customer.
Keep the customer satisfied
Customer engagement will also play a pivotal role. Ensure the customer’s business objectives are always seen as the priority and the MPS offering can be tweaked or modified, where appropriate, in line with the customer organisation’s goals.
Dealers should sell by consulting with their customers. A good salesperson will always question and seek to understand his or her client’s real needs, and in this respect MPS is the same as any other IT-related offering.
After all, the best MPS should be flexible, adaptable and tailored to the customer’s precise needs. In fact, the MPS implementation should never be a one-off event but rather should form the basis for an ongoing process of re-evaluation to ensure that any changes to business needs are taken into account, and that the offering provided is adjusted accordingly.
For many, MPS is a natural extension of existing capabilities. A reseller already often sells much more than printer hardware and consumables, and by adding MPS the value to the customer can be increased. Another advantage is being able to secure the customer, lock in the business for between three and five years and ensure that the client has no reason to go elsewhere for any additional print-related products or services.
Now a business can go to the supplier it is already using for networking, telephony, desktop PCs or stationery and use it for print as well - a one-stop shop. If they receive one invoice from one service provider and one point of contact, they also do not have to run print outside the corporate procurement process.
There has recently been an explosion of interest in MPS, particularly from within the smaller business community. This would suggest that users have increasing insight into the service and greater awareness of its benefits. If a reseller can deliver the service, it represents an opportunity to win new business away from competitors who do not currently offer MPS. Many industries and sectors can benefit from adopting a more managed print approach.
It can make existing accounts more secure and help develop longer-term relationships. Resellers simply have to get to know the services they are offering inside out and work with a print vendor that can offer them as much or as little support as they need to fill in any knowledge or resource gaps.
Rob Brown is MPS business manager at Oki UK
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