4 Managed Print Obstacles and How to Overcome Them

VARs face many unknowns when they contemplate moving to or expanding their managed print offerings. DeWayne Colson knows this from personal experience. His company, LSI Marketing and Design, Lake Oswego, Ore., offers managed print services as well as office equipment sales and supplies. It has been a partner of Xerox for about 10 years. President and Owner Colson says he has had to address four main hurdles to see this part of his business grow.

Obstacle #1: Ramping Up

LSI first faced the learning curve of a business with no experience in managed services. “We had been looking at managed print but were not comfortable about taking the risk and going up that steep learning curve,” Colson recalls.

It became easier to take the plunge when Xerox began offering a managed print program “because [Xerox] would be taking the risk,” Colson says. “I’m willing to gamble, but I’m not putting 75 percent of my chips on the table only to find out it doesn’t work.”

Obstacle #2: Gaining Trust

Next, LSI had to gain the trust of customers, especially new clients. “You need to build customer trust,” Colson says. “A lot of [solution providers] have burned customers, particularly on the copier side,” when it comes to delivering on promises.

Customers are looking for guidance, in terms of the true costs of print, the potential savings of a managed service and when it makes sense to move to a managed print services platform. They need to trust that a VAR will provide accurate numbers to help them make a decision, Colson says.

“We’re either looking at a customer that has not had managed print before and doesn’t know what they are doing, or someone who has been doing this for a while but is very cautious with vendors because they have been burned a couple of times,” Colson says. “We want the customer to trust us. The worst thing I can do is say something that the customer doesn’t believe.”

Gaining customer confidence depends in part on VARs presenting the right image, Colson says. “They want to be supported. Do we have the ability to take care of them as a business? We have to build the capabilities and experience,” he says.

LSI reassures its customers and prospects about its support capabilities with the Xerox PagePack program and other Xerox service and support resources that back up LSI, Colson says.

Obstacle #3: Cost Considerations

Accurately setting prices for services and explaining the pricing structure to prospective customers can be another stumbling block.

Managed print services providers “are all over the map as far as what is the click charge and what is the monthly charge. We have to compete with that,” Colson says. “How do you work out the pricing issues if the guy down the street always has a lower click charge” but you still want to maintain profitability?

When explaining the pricing structure and the concept of managed print, “you don’t want to overeducate the customer,” he believes. You shouldn’t have to go into minute detail about how you arrived at every charge, but explain just enough so that the customer will understand that managed print can ultimately save them money, Colson explains.

Obstacle #4: Ongoing Education

Finally, VARs have to overcome the obstacle of educating customers about the benefits of managed print, or having the customers educate themselves. The idea of managed print is still new to many companies, although it has become much more of an accepted practice in the last year. Colson expects this momentum will continue in the months ahead.

“Education is an issue if you have a customer that’s not doing [managed print] but has heard about it and is just observing it,” Colson says. “That’s a tough situation. That’s going to be a long process and they need to educate themselves because we can’t do all the educating for them.”

Decision-makers at organizations need to get comfortable with the concept of managed print before making the move. That often comes from seeing how others are benefiting from managed print and learning about advances in the marketplace. Once the customer has reached that comfort level, VARs need to be ready to make the sale, Colson advises.