Recently, in a workshop at the Las Vegas ITEX trade show, I shared my high-level process to successfully transform a dealership from traditional hardware sales to managed services. I have refined my transformation process over the last 10 years, and for most dealers it takes about one year to execute.
One of the biggest discoveries I’ve made during these last 10 years is that not everyone is able to make this transformation successfully. If a company’s sales process is weak or undisciplined, that must be changed before a successful MPS transformation can take place.
At the ITEX show, I overheard some dealers say, “We gave up on MPS!” Others said, “We’re trying, but we’re not really getting MPS deals.” A few said that they were successful—but after they explained what they were doing, it was clear they weren’t really selling MPS. Managed Print Services DOES NOT mean just selling a large order of print hardware with a maintenance agreement. It’s much bigger than that.
MPS is a big deal, in more ways than one. It’s big because of the value it provides to the right customer. It’s bigger still because of all the moving parts involved in any one MPS deal with all the responsibility required by the participating dealer. Most don’t understand its value, and most don’t realize the full breadth and depth of responsibility for delivering even a single MPS program. In this business, it’s the survival of the fittest and it always will be.
During my seminar, I could occasionally hear dealer comments from the front rows, especially when I discussed some of the points I’d discovered in my 10 years. I’d like to share some of the comments I heard during some of the slides and points of discovery.
One of the biggest discoveries around the room was when I shared my initial point that a dealer must define exactly what they want, personally, from their business—this is the very nucleus of a successful MPS transformation. Dealers typically assume they know what they want: to be “well off” (whatever that is) and enjoy their career. But what I want to know specifically is “when the business is through with you, what then?” Getting someone to define that day is accomplished with much difficulty. What do you want from your years spent running your business and what does your business look like on that day? Specifically! In the room, it was as if a bunch of LEDs began to flicker and light up throughout the audience, as they started to understand my point.
My next point was about leading your company to success and through the transformation. Now that you’ve defined what you want from your business, tell your employees! Don’t let your sales reps make up or create your value proposition, client by client. There is enough creative selling going on in our industry and lots of hollow promises spoken that dealers simply can’t deliver. You owe it to your employees to define what values your company will deliver and to whom. Now, all your sales reps have to do is follow your lead and deliver the value proposition to the targets you’ve defined. In this way, you can drive a greater focus for your market penetration and improve your entire team’s transformation results.
This next topic is not a new topic, but the fix is easier than most make it out to be. Simply put, sales reps can’t get to the C-level targets and therefore the MPS transformation fails. I said the fix is easy in theory but not always in reality.
If the future of your business demands a steady flow of C-level appointments to sell MPS programs, then doing so should be a major team focus, and you should have a process around achieving those appointments. But often as not, I don’t see this focus. That’s what I meant when I said the fix was easy. Fix that, and you’ve just created a major competitive advantage and a lead position in your marketplace. Business development and growth has got to move to the top of the list, and if you can’t recite your conversion ratios of appointments to MPS opportunities, then most likely you’re not there yet.
It’s way more than just restructuring your comp plan: it has to do greatly with a sales team that has both the mission and talent to make it happen. How discouraging it must be for the super sales reps that are faced with such confusion and lack of leadership around their go-to-market execution. This disconnect is self-induced. If you need a powerful business development front end, build it! Why dealers continue to fund sales teams with 80 percent failure rates baffles me.
It’s true that getting to the CFO is hard, but it’s NOT IMPOSSIBLE! Your successful transformation demands that your sales engine consistently produce first appointments with decision makers. Shift the failing dollars and BUILD IT! You will have the strongest competitive advantage out there.
To support such a front end, your marketing plan must be in complete alignment and on AUTOPILOT. Meaning, it’s not left up to some college intern working a few hours a week to drive your company’s marketing program. You should have a STRONG marketing strategy executing every day. I’m not talking about driving “likes” on Facebook, I’m talking about an aggressive process which yields appointments through social targeting. If done properly this creates a second wave of C-level appointments to add to your conversion efforts.
During the workshop, I explained that they should define what a successful MPS transformation looks like. In the beginning, it’s not hundreds of MPS deals—it might just be one MPS deal per quarter per sales rep, as an example. When you define what success is, and it’s attainable, it makes it much easier for your sales reps to believe that they can get there. Just telling your reps “Go sell MPS and make a lot of money!” is a real let down, because many reps simply can’t visualize that level of success.
Finally, I shared one of the most important elements of success: when driving an extremely high level of prospecting activity, momentum and energy is a must. It’s unlikely that a sales rep will find a new MPS opportunity with every conversation they have. While building their MPS pipeline, there must be enough energy, reward, and momentum to get them through the learning curve and the “valley of despair.” In a well-managed sales team, it would be a great idea to reward their activity as strongly as you would the actual closing of the deal. Many dealers hear that and ask me if I’m crazy! The fact is that most dealerships are already funding failing sales reps. The transformation process I speak of is successful with MPS, MNS, document management, or just overall sales excellence. So, if you’ve built a great plan that drives successful transformation, why wouldn’t you fund its success? Reward high activity and achievement and put your money where your future is!