by Jim Rise, Xerox Corp.

What if I told you that businesses with more than 100 employees that need help reducing costs and optimizing assets are an $8-billion opportunity for managed print services? Would that be something you’d be interested in?

I’m guessing your answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Many organizations spend much more money than is needed on office printing and have deployed more copiers, faxes and printers than they actually need. However, while more than 50 percent of small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) buy some type of managed services, fewer than 5 percent are under an MPS contract, according to the Institute of Partner Education and Development’s “Capturing the Managed Print Opportunity.”

VARs are evolving along with their customers’ needs to seize this opportunity. To grow their business, VARs require a new way of doing business, and for managed service providers that already have this customer base, adding managed print to the portfolio will only expand existing relationships and generate profit.

To compete in the MPS space, VARs need to differentiate themselves by perfecting the offering from an operations standpoint, marketing it effectively, and understanding each customer’s unique needs.

Get your “house” in order

It’s not enough to offer MPS in your portfolio. Consider hiring an expert who has leadership skills and operational knowledge to manage implementation, handle contracts and set profitable margins.

Train the sales staff on how to explain the benefits of MPS and help them understand its implementation. Work with your MPS vendor or create your own training covering topics such as assessment, design, implementation and management.

Focus marketing efforts on a customer’s specific industry, size and needs.

Hone your customer database

While SMBs lagged in IT spending last year, things are looking up due to improving credit and new tax legislation.

Focus on document-intensive and underpenetrated industries such as real estate, health care, legal and the financial sector.

It’s time to sell

Leverage the trends. Security and green printing initiatives are just examples of how to get the conversation started. Show customers how MPS can help them meet their goals through product consolidation, sustainable supplies and hard-drive setup and maintenance.

Think beyond page volumes and clicks. Presale conversations can make or break the transaction, so ask the right questions: What are your goals? What applications are you using? What are your expectations? What efficiencies would you like to accomplish?

Show what’s possible. Consider all cost factors when completing an on-site analysis, including hardware costs, paper usage, power consumption, IT management needs and the footprint of an ideal print solution.

Waste is about more than cost. The ROI of MPS isn’t just dollars and cents. Make sure to highlight the other efficiencies that will be realized, including employee productivity, environmental benefits, space savings, etc.

When looking for a vendor partner for MPS, consider the company’s reputation, experience, support and tools as well as which vendor will help generate the most revenue for the business. The right program will get you up and running quickly and provide a range of offerings to add value for customers.

In the years ahead, MPS will undoubtedly drive value, increase productivity and help businesses of all sizes better manage the way documents are printed. For resellers, an effective and well-thought-out MPS program and sales strategy can build customer loyalty, confidence and revenue.

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Xerox Corp.