How to Add Print to Your MSP Portfolio

Managed services providers have an ace up their sleeve when it comes to selling print services—their existing customers.

“We’ve seen excellent penetration with managed print when we introduce it to on-site managed service customers, where we have a relationship already built up and technology resources already in the field,” says Bill Loiacano, president and CEO of
SPI Innovations, a Freeland, Mich., services provider and Xerox PagePack Partner. “It has been much easier to introduce managed print to those clients,” who value SPI’s advice when it comes to new offerings.

SPI is one of a growing number of managed services providers that are enjoying great success by using print services to expand their technology offerings. In some cases, these companies have found that managed print offers challenges and opportunities that are different from those of other technology services offerings. Having Xerox as a partner has helped SPI address the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities.

Expanding Portfolio

SPI added managed print services to its portfolio about two years ago and has been “very aggressively” going after the market in the past 12 months, Loiacano says. Prior to its entry into managed print, the company had been offering services such as on-site technical support, providing full-time, dedicated engineers at customer sites. SPI technicians support desktop hardware and applications, and server hardware and applications, as well as patch management and risk mitigation.

SPI’s clients are typically large enterprises, with the average managed service client having at least 1,000 end users. Most of its customers are in the health-care and financial services sectors.

When selling the idea of managed print to existing clients, SPI takes basically the same approach it uses for “any SLA-type agreement where we’ve got engineers on site,” Loiacano says. “We say, ‘Let us handle your print service [because we] understand your print business model,’” he says.

But it’s not as easy with new customers, who have not developed the same level of trust. “With new customers there’s a little bit of dancing you’ve got to do before the trust in reliability is built up,” Loiacano says. As a result, “we tend to go after the low-hanging fruit. We’ve gone [mostly] to existing managed service customers with our managed print solution.”

Even long-standing customers can be somewhat slow to buy into the managed print concept. SPI Innovations recently landed a managed print contract with a financial services institution that has been a managed service customer for about three years. It took SPI about 10 months to close a deal to manage some 200 devices for the client.

Print Pays Off

Another challenge with managed print is getting the sales staff on board and committed to the idea and then training them in the technology.

“We spend more time and money on managed print training than we do for [other] managed services,” Loiacano says. “It seems to be a little bit easier to adapt to managed services. Managed print requires [someone] who understands financial ROI [return on investment] and why this makes sense,” as well as understanding the service and why you’d want to bring it into your organization, he says. “Managed print takes a little bit higher level of finesse than other services.”

But in the end, it’s worth it. Managed print, like other services, provides a recurring revenue model for service providers such as SPI Innovations. Print goes even further, Loiacano says. “We like print even more because there’s infrastructure involved,” Loiacano says. “If you can convince someone to do managed print you’ve got front-end infrastructure needs [to meet] like device cabling. So managed print has provided us with up-front and recurring revenue.”

SPI’s partnership with Xerox has played a huge role in its success in managed print. Xerox offers resources, such as Xerox PagePack, that can help managed services providers address challenges in the market and optimize their service offerings.

In addition to programs such as PagePack, Xerox offers partners valuable training, advice and support. “We’ve seen very committed support from Xerox; it’s been nothing short of wonderful,” Loiacano says. “You simply don’t see that with other print vendors. Xerox enables us to get the managed print specialty training we need. We have the ability to repair any printer product we deliver to customers.”

As part of the managed print training and support from Xerox, SPI has received direction in terms of specific sales strategies, including what messages to focus on and whom in the prospect’s organization to target.

“Xerox wants us dealing with C-level executives, and that’s where we have found our traction,” Loiacano says. “Part of the training is Xerox teaching us how to approach the sales cycle” and how to present the business benefits of managed print.

As a result, SPI has a strong managed print offering to include in its services portfolio.