New to Copier Sales: What’s This Thing Called Managed IT Services?

Managed services is referred to by various names — managed IT services, managed network services, MNS, etc. But no matter what you know it as, managed services is the hottest thing since managed print services.

As a new copier rep, you may not initially hear much about managed services, but it is the next evolutionary step in the copier industry. The industry has developed repeatable revenue models around hardware, and for those who wish to survive, we’ll shift this model into different areas, or “anything as a service” (XaaS). Down the street copier reps should get familiar with MS basics.

Let’s start with a definition of managed services. According to Wikipedia, managed services is “the practice of outsourcing on a proactive basis certain processes and functions intended to improve operations and cut expenses. It is an alternative to the break/fix or on-demand outsourcing model where the service provider performs on-demand services and bills the customer only for the work done.”

For our discussion, we’ll consider managed IT services to be the act of managing network endpoints, devices, software, infrastructure and the end-user experience.

Think of managed services as monitoring work stations and connected devices, defending against viruses, backing up data, watching servers and restoring software after a disaster — you know, computer stuff.

Larger companies maintain staff who support the network, man help desks, and maintain software updates, passwords and installations. In your world as a sales rep, you are offering to take on those services for smaller companies that cannot support an internal team.

It’s common to have multiple services offered under one engagement. Typically, the menu, or “technology stack,” includes some, all or more of the following:

  • Email hosting.
  • Cloud services software licenses, updates and patches.
  • Support for network and technology.
  • Security and anti-virus software.
  • Firewall (UTM: unified threat management).
  • Backup and disaster recovery (BDR).
  • VPN access.
  • Remote monitoring.
  • Application support.
  • Help desk support.
  • Professional services.

The difference between copiers, MPS and managed services

All three environments are executed under an agreement over time, like a lease and service contract. Managed services is similar to MPS, but the biggest difference is that with managed services you are responsible for keeping an organization’s IT infrastructure protected — when a copier goes down, employees can wait or find another device. When a virus gets through your monitored firewall, your client’s entire business comes to a halt, and you can’t just get in your car and deliver a new server like you could with toner.

Selling managed services

Some dealerships will have a subject matter expert (SME) to help configure, if not drive, the sale. Usually, copier reps act as the locators of managed services opportunities. Either way, the process is similar to the managed print services track:

Qualifications: how many?

Your dealership will establish a standard prospect profile — typically the number of endpoints and end-users determine the best fit. There is a point where too few assets make outsourcing unappealing and a point where the number of devices demands in-house support.

A general rule of thumb is anywhere between 25 and 180 end-users is in the approachable zone, but exceptions are not rare.

Assessment: probe and/or DCA?

Like an MPS data collection agent, managed services projects require a software probe installed on the network to collect basic information. An experienced managed services professional is needed to analyze and make recommendations.

As an interesting twist, it is not uncommon for IT companies to charge for a network assessment — hopefully, your dealer is doing just that.

Presentation: can be heavy, detailed and highly technical.

This is where things start to get a bit crazy. The managed services presentation includes a detailed look at the current network environment in detail, explaining current connections, software status and areas for improvement.

The recommendation can include patching old software, upgrading or replacing hardware, as well as ongoing support.

In the end

Your prospects are looking to support a network, yet with the cost of supporting network devices internally — the salary and benefits requirements of an IT department head or team are prohibitive for most SMBs — outsourcing makes sense.

Managed print services generate an average of $27 per user, per month. The average revenue for managed services is between $50 and $150 per user, per month. The variance is impressive and attractive — if your dealership isn’t into managed services today, it will be soon.

Good luck, and good selling.

Greg Walters

Greg Walters

is an entrepreneur and founder of the notorious destination site TheDeathOfTheCopier, where he comments on all things imaging, the rise of managed services and the advance of business technology. A prolific writer and frequent speaker, Greg shares his passionate, unique – and often provocative – view of technology and people, addressing the impact of digital on 21st century business. His 2014 book, Death Of The Copier, offers a controversial summary of the early days of Managed Print Services and the not-so-distant future of the hard copy industry. Reach out to Greg at greg@grwalters.com.