by Greg Walters
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Your managed print services sales life is crowded. Cold calls, ridealongs, training, demos, deliveries, proposal generation, customer service, assessments, DCA installations, customer questions, follow up, complaints and emergency toner delivery. How many devices do you need to understand and articulate the benefits of? Do you own your elevator pitch, value prop and sales script?
Do you have a smartphone, tablet, and laptop? What, two phones? Busy, aren’t you?
I bet you use all the software they can throw at you — email, Excel, Word, PowerPoint. Don’t forget your CRM entries, funnel and forecast reports, account diagraming and those important meetings: Monday morning sales, Wednesday lunch and learns, Friday weekly recap, and on and on and on. Today, the skillset required to sell, manage or offer managed print services combines all of the above and then some. In addition to asking the standard copier questions about lease expiration dates, monthly equipment and service payments, duplex, color or mono, and why copy in the first place, you collect equipment, usage and the costs associated with printers.
All this before asking, “Why print?”
The MpS life is complicated, isn’t it? I’ve been there, I know. Without getting into a detailed therapy session, I’ve got some ideas that will help you draw sense, slow the machine and obtain some clarity.
Let’s look at a specific and foundational activity in every engagement – the assessment.
Today, scores of tools populate the MpS landscape. Maybe it’s because I’ve performed assessments using clipboards, colored sticky dots and graph paper, as well as iPads, laptops and spreadsheets, that some of these tools seem complicated and burdensome. I don’t know about you, but spending hours learning another application designed to help me reduce non-productive hours, seems counter intuitive.
To help you keep some sanity when committing to assessment, I’ve got three basic suggestions:
Ask. “How much are you spending on printing, copiers, supplies and service?” It could be this simple. Industry generated TCO tools are estimates at best and require understanding from the prospect. This is not to say TCO tools are irrelevant; they are not, especially if the numbers generated are validated and accepted by your prospect.
But I’m not that enamored with asking any question relating to price or cost. How about you probe for inconvenience? “How long does it take you to schedule a service call or order toner?” Go on from there, look around your office and notice the bottle necks.
Relevant. The conversation should be as far away from “is that your fish on the wall?” as possible. Business conversations must be valid and relevant from your prospect’s view. The owner cares about different issues than the controller or administration manager.
So how do you find out what is relevant? Ask. Ask the owner, “What are your top three concerns when you think about how information flows within your company?” Ask the admin about the daily pains experienced. This is not rocket surgery, as a matter of fact, it’s Sales 101.
Simple. Keep the process simple — use paper and pencil if needed. I’m all for digital tools, I like capturing data and presenting information on my tablet or big screen — but sometimes the best tools are pen and paper. Like a wrench, managed print services tools leverage technology in an effort to reduce complex jobs into a set of simple tasks. But the wrench does not think for you. It cannot know which bolt to loosen or tighten.
The best prospects don’t care about your tool set, they care about you and your ideas. Asking shows concern, their answers help you remain relevant, and simple communication of sophisticated concepts builds credibility.
When your assessments encapsulate these three beliefs, you are on your way to building lasting, sustainable relationships with your clients.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.