During my time in the MPS world, I have discovered several best practices and gained insights from many MPS dealers. I’ve met with many sales teams and had the privilege of going onsite with some wonderful consultants all over the world. I would love to share some of the best practices I have surmised from this diverse group of experts, in hopes it could help others in the future.
My print technology background goes back to 2012. During my senior year at Boise State University, I began an internship to perform technical documentation for secure print solutions and hardware. Learning the complexities of enterprise printing and the challenges to selling and deploying MPS solutions simultaneously overwhelmed and intrigued me. While managed print isn’t the most interesting of topics at first glance, I embraced the challenges and continued to grow in domain knowledge. Since then, I’ve turned that experience into various opportunities working in MPS software sales, support, and user experience and design.
From what I’ve observed, the consultants who win a lot of deals are always the most prepared. This seems simple enough. Before leaving the hotel, have your destination mapped on your phone and have the customers’ contact cards readily available if you are delayed by traffic or an unforeseeable circumstance. The best of the best show up at least 15 minutes early. This allows you to get a feel for your surroundings and ensures you are ready to make a great impression. When you arrive late, no matter the reason, people will begin to view you as unreliable or unable to keep your word. That is not how anyone wants to start a visit. Although it may seem inconsequential, it sets the tone for the whole engagement.
Secondly, know your landscape and what type of area you will be in to dress appropriately. If you are mapping a big deal, you will likely be on your feet for hours at a time. Chances are you’ve got some nice dress shoes, but are they comfortable? The last thing you want to worry about is how much longer you can walk because you sacrificed comfort for looking good. Get both.
Other considerations include: Will you be going to and from multiple buildings in the heat? Cold? How big is the campus? What’s the weather like in the area? Will there be any special requirements? If you’re not sure, use your Google, weather app, and other resources to ensure you are ready to focus on the customer’s needs and aren’t distracted by something you could have taken care of, being better prepared.
You will always want to make sure that you are clear on who will be your points of contact while on site. In some scenarios, you will need an escort to get you access to all of the areas where printers are located. It’s easy to find the commercial copier in the lobby or library, but what about the boss’s office? Or all the broken devices in the storage closet? Who is taking care of those? Or the extra toner that accounting ordered transactionally? If you don’t ask questions, sometimes these gems never get uncovered. You’re going to need to build a relationship with the person escorting you around because you’ll be relying on them to get access to places they might not even want to take you. Just keep in mind every device matters, and that’s just one part of the story.
Strategize the timing of your visit based on the environment that you are going to. Are you going to map a deal for education? I suggest planning a time to go onsite during high volume times. In this case, it would be helpful to be there at the same time as the students. This will give you a better idea of how people are actually interacting with the devices and give you a good scope of what is going on. Your goal should be to be a “fly on the wall.” If you visit a hospital and are in the ICU, you need to get in and out fast. It should be like you were never there. You will also want to make sure a teammate knows where you are and what you are doing, in case you need additional information they can gather for you while you are onsite.
Recently, COVID-19 has made things a bit interesting in terms of mapping a deal. If you’re going to go onsite, ensure that you have all of your personal protective equipment prepared-including a mask.
I have created a checklist that can be found here for you to reference to make sure you have all the correct equipment before leaving your house.
When arriving onsite, I have found it beneficial to create a home base. This will help ensure that you don’t get lost and always have a reference point in the building you are exploring. Choose somewhere you are out of the way but also close enough to your points of contact that you can easily find them to ask questions. It can help to have a specific place to keep your belongings, keeping what you are carrying around light, and ensuring the space is secure. As a bonus, it could be a charging station for your backup laptop/tablet. Remember, you are representing your company, so keep your space clean and quiet so as not to get in the way or cause a distraction.
Depending on the client site’s size, there may be multiple (and sometimes confusing) areas to map. Be sure you have familiarized yourself with the general overview, so you don’t have to interrupt anyone for directions back to your home base or the next area.
As you’re printing network and configuration pages, do your best to index and number them to stay organized. If you’re doing a large site, this is where mapping the floor can really help you keep track of what you’ve already discovered. Sticky notes are also useful separators and will allow you to move quickly and go back over the configuration details when you have a workspace with more screen real estate.
Lastly, try to set the right expectations with the escort when you plan on being done and when you will take breaks. Remember that the escort likely also has other responsibilities, and you’ll want to make sure they can take care of the other items that may come up. Be as flexible about this as you possibly can, and it will pay dividends.
Before you leave
Before leaving the site, always ensure that you were thorough during your walkthrough. If anything is missing, you should have an action plan to collect it. If you happened to run into any locked doors, talk with your main point of contact to create a follow-up plan for how you will receive that information.
Ensure that your customer knows the next steps and what they can expect from you. (As a bonus, be sure to bring some swag to leave with the people who helped you during your visit. It is a generous gesture and free marketing!)
And as always, use good manners, thank your customer for the opportunity to map a deal for them, and give them a timeline when you will be in contact again.
Visits will either make or break a deal, and I have seen many go both ways. The way you show up and present yourself is as important as the technology solutions you can offer your client. Be mindful, be respectful, and be helpful.
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