Pandemic Forces Elite Dealers to Find Creative Ways to Deliver Value

Having a business plan is one thing. Having a BDR program in place is another. But prior to last March, not one office technology dealer boasted a pandemic playbook.

It seems life has that way of giving you the test first and teaching the lesson after the fact. And one thing we have learned about the office technology dealer ranks—they are both resilient and relentless. Being creative and resourceful has enabled many of our Elite Dealers to overcome COVID-19 obstacles that stand in the way of delivering on their value proposition. In this installment of dealer challenges, we will share a number of those stories.

Mid Ohio Strategic Technologies in Columbus found creativity to be the key in reaching more potential clients and partners, and being flexible with how it does business doesn’t hurt. For example, the dealer took to hand-delivering more supplies as opposed to shipping them. That personal touch resonates with end-user clients.

“Businesses want to know you are there for them, still working hard to be ready when they need you,” the dealer reported. “We have really tried to communicate better and be increasingly more available to our clients and potential clients as the year has gone on.”

Pulling Trigger

Reconciling uncertainty has been a challenge across the entire business landscape, and this certainly applies to pulling the trigger on substantial purchases. Advanced Imaging Solutions of Minnetonka, Minnesota, noted many clients that, in ordinary times, would quickly and easily green light opportunities to upgrade or add services were now delaying decisions or making more conservative choices.

“We understood that this was an unprecedented time for all of us,” the company wrote. “We shared with our salespeople that compassion and understanding were of the utmost importance during this time. We instructed them to listen and help with anything that we could do to make clients feel more secure in an insecure world. As the world is getting closer to getting back to a bit more normal, we are seeing those clients come back and want to talk about all of those items that got put on hold in March.”

One thing the pandemic did was cause dealers to take a deep look into their organizational charts, review operating costs and budgets to see if they could fulfill pre-pandemic expectations, and that was the case for Usherwood Office Technology of Syracuse, New York. But what the numbers couldn’t illustrate was the character of the workforce.

“We have learned many lessons in the past year, but we also learned that our people are our most important asset and our clients need us in many ways we didn’t expect,” Usherwood wrote. “Sometimes, it is difficult times that are needed to forge the mettle of a company. We feel that we accomplished that in 2020.”

Maintaining Excellence

The pandemic has certainly wrought havoc on many dealers’ ability to continue down a path of aggressive growth, and for companies like Prosource of Cincinnati that had been ringing the sales bell with gusto in recent years, it provided a secondary challenge. The changes the dealer has implemented in tandem with the growth over the past few years makes ensuring that it is providing the best products, services and customer experience a task in and of itself.

“In the past year, we worked to address this challenge by partnering with Xerox to take our production business to the next level,” the company reported. “In conjunction with our strong partnership with Konica Minolta, it enables us to bring the most innovative, widely respected production and industrial print capabilities to our customers.”

Service revenue consistency during the pandemic has been an issue for Base Technologies of Bethel, Connecticut, particularly with end-users working from home and printing less. The company continues to focus on addressing current customer needs.

“We worked with our customers by assisting in the transition to a remote workforce, and we provided numerous devices for remote employees,” Base Technologies reported.

Expanding Portfolios

The challenge of remote sales and having its workforce operating from home made it more difficult for Southwest Copy Systems of Albuquerque, New Mexico, to roll out and implement new product and service offerings; in this case, VoIP solutions and managed IT services.

“We addressed distance selling by providing our sales team with tools such as our UCaaS solution to conduct meetings and new relevant offerings for customers to help them navigate the same challenges we had moving our workforce from in-person collaboration to distance collaboration,” Southwest Copy Systems wrote. “By implementing the same solutions in our office and utilizing them internally, and understanding how to best use them in our own business in order to best pitch these services to our customers and prospects, (we were able) to help them clear the same obstacles and problems we also encountered.”

One of the main initiatives in 2020 for Woodland, California-based GoodSuite was to create a separate team for its IT services sales. With two teams, the dealer is still working on ensuring everyone is engaged to generate company growth, but it’s a work in progress.

“We now have an imaging team and a services team and the challenge of them working together is not easy,” the company wrote. “Both sides have a fear of being left out. We had to build trust, keep lines of communication open and had to create a comp plan that worked for everyone and kept a focus on growth and retention at the same time. We are working together well but there is still a lot of work to do.”

Erik Cagle
About the Author
Erik Cagle is the editorial director of ENX Magazine. He is an author, writer and editor who spent 18 years covering the commercial printing industry.