There are probably a few terms you hear thrown around these days in the copier industry: “Transformation,” “digitization” and “disruption” are common ones. Another one you’re probably starting to hear a lot more of is “convergence.”
Convergence has a few definitions, but the one most applicable to our industry is “the merging of distinct technologies, industries, or devices into a unified whole.”
In our world, examples of convergence abound. Once, when the Earth was young and dinosaurs ruled the world, printers printed and copiers copied. Then, two separate devices, print and copy, converged into one. Convergence of technology is universal and central to expanding and contracting business — just look at your phone as an example. The wider world sees convergence in all things media, marketing, IT and even cultural.
For the contemporary copier niche, convergence is akin to consolidation: big dealers digesting smaller ones, software companies gobbled up by large, funded conglomerates, and outside players assimilating some of our largest dealer networks. Lots of factors, moving variables, and influences unifying, colliding, converging and creating both predictable and unpredictable outcomes.
Your prospects are experiencing the same pressure. It is to your benefit to understand the advantages and challenges of the current convergence cycle. Let’s take a simple example like the convergence of printing and copying. In the old days, eliminating all the expensive, single-purpose printers was a benefit aligned with installing one multifunction device; instead of printing a document and walking over to the copier to make 10 copies, we simply sent a print job of 10 copies to the MFD. Today, this sounds simplistic, but back then, the enhanced productivity was significant.
What converged technology can you sell today? Is it embedded apps on the console of your favorite MFD? How about the ability to support copiers AND desktops, servers and connected devices? Can you package MPS with document management?
Imagine solving multisymptomatic problems. This may be a bit advanced concept for a “newbie” column, but hang with me.
Let’s suppose for a minute you’re talking to a 12-person office where each employee has a desktop MFP and there is one color and one black-and-white copier centrally located in the open floorplan setting. They currently purchase toner from Staples and run the copiers under separate, 60-month lease/service contracts.
The prospect is a local insurance agent, has been in business for 30 years and a community icon. The decision-maker has heard pitches from every one of your competitors and all three of the salespeople before you.
What could make you different? Should you introduce your company history or talk about excellent service? Should you talk about ceramic internals and BLI awards? Of course not.
It’s a trick question because I know that before you met with this prospect you researched the phrase “insurance industry convergence” and came up with many articles revolving around “insurance industry convergence.” You’d know that since 2017, “convergence” has been a catchphrase in your prospect’s world.
So you ask about convergence in his world. He tells you how the products and services he offers are overlapping. He’d go on to tell you how all the big insurance companies are going through digital transformation and he’s hearing more about “data analytics” and “AI.”
You have something in common, don’t you?
Imagine you tell your prospect you’ve heard the same things and your industry is undergoing transformation as well. Maybe explain you are solving small business problems with new, converged solutions, combining server, workstation and output device management with basic document digital filing and management services.
At first, this looks like a complex situation and you may not be able to pull ALL of the abovementioned services into one — but you CAN talk about a converged solution. Pick two — scanning and print management, for example. Whatever your scanning solution — standalone or embedded — include archiving in your managed print services talk track: “Not only can we guarantee supplies and toner delivery, our MPS incorporates quick scan and archiving at an affordable rate.”
I’ve oversimplified, but you get the point. You can converge almost everything in conversation: coffee service and MPS, water service and managed IT, (wouldn’t be nice if water and coffee devices had chips like MFPs?), accounts receivable processing and embedded scanning.
Convergence is everywhere — when you understand and articulate this idea, you immediately strike a common ground. Not only that, if you have a converged solution, your presentation hits a familiar chord with a new, yet understood angle.
Try it out. Consider your dealer’s offering and build a conversation around combined leverages but do not forget to research your prospect by researching the word “convergence” in their industry.
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