This month in the print version of ENX the main feature is “Establishing Credibility in the Production Print Market.” With that in mind we’re continuing with a production print theme in this week’s edition of the ENX/The Week in Imaging newsletter by identifying the wrong way to approach the production print market. As you may or may not expect, there seems to be a fair amount of consensus on the wrong way from the industry experts.
“The worst thing a dealer can do to undermine their credibility is to treat this market as if it was just a ‘big copier’ market,” observes John Corely, president, Channel Partner Operations, Xerox. “To rely on selling a lower monthly cost just won’t cut it. A consultative approach with a clear understanding of what your customers need is a must.”
If you ask Kent Villarreal, senior product manager, product planning and marketing at Sharp Electronics Corp., the worst thing a dealer who is looking to establish credibility in the production space can do is treat production equipment as if it were a traditional workgroup MFP.
“This is a special segment of the market and needs to be treated with care,” he says. “These customers are producing their marketing collateral and for in-plants, CRDs, and Print for Pays, that’s their product. If they’re not sold the right machine, that has all kinds of repercussions. If they’re sold the right machine and not trained correctly and supported correctly, then they’ll likely never sell in that market again. It’s easy to get a bad name.”
John Henze, director of marketing for Fiery business, EFI, cautions against going into the production space with a box mover mentality.
“All you have to compete on is price, Fiery product is too expensive, not completive, but study after study shows price is not the most four or five most important things. Price is important, I’m not trying to dismiss it. It’s about the dealer adding value, understanding what the customer wants, their pain points and how they can help them better optimize the way the schedule the production of their jobs and provide them with tools that help them manage their ROI and productivity and help them automate repetitive tasks, help the customer become an expert in a particular are like color so they can charge more or design services, that’s what they have to do. For a dealer that doesn’t realize that or isn’t willing to invest in that, and who’s been selling a bunch of MFPs and think they can go in and do that with production at a much higher price, it just doesn’t work.”
“Not hiring staff and not fully making the commitment,” opines Joe Contreras, director, product and solutions marketing, Toshiba America Business Solutions. “Don’t test the waters, you’re either going to make the commitment or not.”
Brian Dollard, director of marketing for Canon U.S.A. cautions against using the word “copier” when selling into higher end production print environments.
“If you use that word right away they’re going to know, you’re out there selling copiers on a daily basis.”
Another foible is not learning about the customer.
“If you don’t go in there and try to learn about their company, their unique pain points, their unique applications, you’re going to get sniffed out real quick,” states Dollard. “What a lot of enterprise sales people will do is they think they’re doing homework by going to a customer’s website and saying, ‘They’ve got a Xerox DocuColor (check model number) therefore I know I can replace this product with that product.’ So they go in and say, ‘I know you’ve got this, I can lower your price by giving you this product.’”
The issue he sees is that there isn’t a conversation about their business or acknowledgement that they are there to try and solve a problem.
“The only value they’re bringing to the table is to reduce their monthly cost which is important, but these people are savvy and will sniff that out pretty quick and know that this guy is just working off a price list as opposed to understanding my business and looking at how to lower my operating costs and increase my efficiencies,” says Dollard.
“The worst thing a dealer can do is not enter into the production print market at all. Now is the time for dealers who have not yet dipped a toe into production print to add these capabilities to their portfolio,” adds Jim Coriddi, Vice President, Dealer Division, Ricoh Americas Corporation.
The three primary benefits that dealers will reap by adding these capabilities include broadening the customer set that they can approach, increasing volumes, and keeping competition out of their accounts.
“In an industry where overall volume is decreasing, adding production equipment to a dealer’s portfolio provides them with an entry into a space where volumes can be increased,” observes Coriddi. “That said, for those already planning to enter or those already part of the market, another potential detriment is not ensuring they have qualified staff (or trusted service partners) in place to understand the production customers’ needs and that have the know-how to help customers grow their businesses.”
Ricoh works with its dealers to ensure they avoid these pitfalls.
“Doing more than just offering a piece of hardware– Ricoh learns about its dealer’s businesses, helping them build customized production plans for their local markets and ensuring they have the right combination of equipment, software and services to meet and exceed expectations of those markets,” concludes Coriddi.