Attention, dealers. Who wears the decision-making pants in your family of customers? Obviously, it varies depending on the product or service offering. On the subject of managed print services (MPS), many will point toward the chief financial officer. If the value proposition centers on saving money, that is your go-to guy or gal.
Still, framing the MPS conversation, the table-setting process, can require a host of different department heads. According to Kevin Morris, president and CEO of pure-play specialist OneDOC MPS of Oklahoma City, he finds it is important to make sure customers and prospects understand the definition of MPS; after all, one provider’s package might only scratch the surface of a true MPS platform.
“Once we figure out where they’re at right now, we talk about differentiations and what we bring to the table,” Morris related. “They may know what the lease payments on their copiers are, but most companies truly don’t know what their monthly spend is. Some people within an organization may go off on their own and expense printers from Office Depot. So we talk about what we can do to impact that. Faxing is still important for some, especially in the health care space. So we’ll look at how much people are faxing. There’s obviously a better way to do that.”
John Turner, director of Managed Print Services at Loffler Companies of Bloomington, MN, notes that the dealer’s efforts are best tailored toward the chief information officer and the client’s IT organization. “They are the ones looking for print solutions and they help sell it to the CFO,” he said. “IT groups are looking for the secure follow-me-print, secure scan and printer security solutions, not the CFO.”
Putting Pieces Together
An effective MPS package can bring sanity to what can be a fragmented approach within the customer itself. Generally, that means someone within the organization was buying hardware separately in the past and getting service on a time and materials bases, with toner also separate. C-level targets are the best bet with a prospect, according to Jim Jones, COO of Indianapolis-based Cannon IV.
“It’s all about helping someone identify, control and contain their costs—help manage it,” he said. “Our job is to help them decide if what they do is OK, or if they need to go in a different direction.”
Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises (DME) of Cincinnati always aims for the top, using its quarterly reviews with clients to facilitate a conversation with the CEO or CFO of an organization. A speeds and feeds talk is bypassed in favor of a data-driven analysis that provides a compelling argument in favor of a managed approach.
“If we can get to the CFO, we’ll say ‘Here are some things we’ve noticed, here are some potential improvements and here’s the exact data of your organization,’” noted Jim George, DME president. “We’ll give them a side-by-side analysis of their actual cost savings if we were to add the printers onto their fleet, and what it would mean to the organization, whether tangible or intangible. The tangible is the toner cost and the intangibles are the benefits of having someone manage their fleet. Their IT team will be happy that it’s not bogged down with it.
“The biggest thing is we’re trying to show an ROI and for us to get as sticky as possible with our clients by providing a service that they can never say no to,” he added.
The Business Case
While the CFO is an obvious prospect, Nashville, TN-based Novatech encourages its reps to start at the C-suite in general, because the dealer always tries to sell to the business case. In many instances, the business case is scenario-specific, and there’s no commonality from one opportunity to the next, notes John Sutton, director of sales.
“The goal is to identify what that driver is, and in sales, the individual that’s going to be that champion and ultimately that person or persons will get us to the remaining team members that can drive an actionable result,” Sutton said.
Despite the pecking order of an organization, the formal structure and hierarchy, many times a lesser-ranked individual can wield great influence when it comes to pulling the trigger on an MPS solution. Thus, it is important for a reseller to understand the true decision makers or key influencers within a client, according to Kevin DeYoung, president and CEO of Qualpath, another pure MPS provider.
Given that a majority of IT managers have no sway in the budgetary conversation, there has to be an economic business justification that is compelling to the people who made decisions based on financial statements.
“Even then, these economic decision makers like CFOs will query the involved parties on their opinions as to whether or not they believe the offered solution is doable,” DeYoung remarked. “I think decision makers have learned to test theory, reality/practicality before they engage in a partnership with an MPS provider.
“Centering on one point of contact is a mistake,” he added. “Another mistake from prospective MPS providers is not describing how they will execute…in many cases, the silent objection is ‘can this provider actually do this?’”