If You Could Tell a Friend One Thing About Managed Print

If your brother, cousin, other family member or friend were considering making a huge investment in managed print services, what potential roadblocks would you tell them to watch out for?

We asked Thomas Csanky, director of sales and marketing at IT solutions and managed services provider Neocomp Systems Inc. in Chatsworth, Calif., and here are five things he said to be on guard against.

1. Not having people properly trained. “You need to make the investment to ensure that people have the necessary skills” to support various aspects of managed print. Csanky says. “You can’t just spend a couple of days explaining the product and then put people on the street.”

It’s also important that the people you hire have good communications skills. That might sound like a clichŽ, Csanky says, “but you want to have people who can really sit down with C-levels and have a discussion with them about the business benefits of managed print.”

“We have become successful because we were willing to be patient.”

- Thomas Csanky

When Neocomp first started with MPS, it hired a sales rep whose previous experience was in toner telesales. “This sales rep didn’t have the ‘polish’ and ‘speak’ to communicate with C-levels, nor the ability to give a professional presentation, and he utterly failed,” Csanky says. Once Csanky realized this, he hired another rep who had stronger communication and presentation skills. “This rep went through the Pagepack 3.0 certification training and was successful,” he says.

2. Lacking the service and repair component of managed print. “You need to be able to provide your own service” or find a good, reliable service provider you can outsource this function to, Csanky says. It’s vital to ensure that the technicians you have in-house or who work for the outsourcing company are top-notch and that repair services are priced right for the customer.

Csanky says Neocomp has worked with a printer repair service provider that didn’t employ top-level people and charged as much as $30 per month for a maintenance fee on some printers when it could have charged as little as $10. “That’s not justifiable, and my competition would blow us away,” he says. Neocomp now has its own staff of 18 technicians, who provide high-quality service at a low cost to customers.

3. Being impatient. Success in the managed print services market isn’t going to happen overnight. “It took us about six months to get our first deal landed,” Csanky says. “There are practices involved [in managed print]. You have to develop the ability to do the assessments, to prepare presentations, to price correctly, to understand the program.”

All of this takes time. “We have become successful because we were willing to be patient,” Csanky says. “A lot of this stuff ended up being trial and error. We had to bring our entire staff around to understanding the products and how they work, how to monitor them.”

4. Not doing a complete assessment for customers. “Xerox has a specific methodology for assessment, and if you leave certain parts of that out you will not be successful,” Csanky says. “A lot of people try to skip parts.”

One of the steps in an assessment is to collect historical data on costs of components such as consumables. “I have found that when we skip that point, it has always come back to bite us,” Csanky says. For example, a prospective customer told Neocomp it could not provide print cost data because it was too difficult to gather the information.

When Neocomp made its proposal weeks later, it used cost estimates based on prior experience. But the prospect then came up with its own cost figure and said Neocomp’s data wasn’t accurate, and declined to give the solution provider another chance to bid for the work. “We now insist that cost information be provided or we can’t do an accurate assessment,” he says.

5. Failing to support multiple products. One thing that has helped Neocomp be successful is its willingness to support printers from multiple vendors. “You can’t just go in and say we cover only Xerox printers or HP printers,” Csanky says. “You’ve got to be willing to pick up other products and you’ve got to be able to use monitoring tools to the fullest extent to monitor all network printer devices. You have to do that because the competition is doing that.”

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