IT VAR Explains How it Succeeds with Managed Print

Succeeding in the managed print business means knowing when not to quit. The sales cycle can be slow, and patience and perseverance are important attributes for managed print service providers.

In some cases, prospective customers will sit on the fence for a long time, pondering the possibility of investing in managed print services before finally taking the plunge. In other cases, customers will be long-time holdouts, insisting that managed print is not for them. But when a customer that was previously a naysayer changes his mind about managed print, VARs need to be ready to capitalize on the opportunity.

“With managed print, you get a fair number of people who initially say no, not now—and then all of a sudden they are ready,” says David Polzin, owner of BusinessWare Solutions, a Xerox Peak Partner in Hutchinson, Minn.

Steady Growth

BusinessWare Solutions entered the managed print services business about six years ago. The company is a traditional IT VAR, offering desktop devices, servers, network equipment, virtualization solutions, security systems, document management software, cloud computing services, and other technology products and services.

At first, the company struggled to find customers for managed print. In its first two years in the business, it had only 10 contracts, Polzin says. Over the years BusinessWare Solutions gained expertise in print services, worked hard and saw its managed print business grow on average about 70 percent per year. Today, the company adds about 20 new contracts each month.

BusinessWare started with smaller customers to get a feel for the business, before expanding to larger engagements. The VAR provides managed print services via a cost-cutting strategy that’s aimed at customers looking to eliminate inefficiencies.

Leveraging a managed print formula such as Xerox PagePack has been a key to maintaining a profitable managed print offering for the company. Xerox PagePack has removed some of the costly variables that can cut into profits, by eliminating toner-based pricing.

Polzin knows all too well how difficult it can be to win over new and existing customers to managed print, and realizes that persistence can be just as important as having a quality service offering and experience in the market.

BusinessWare Solutions has often had to go back to customers multiple times before making a managed print services sale. “We’ve had to visit customers three or four times, and repeat things over and over,” Polzin says. “Then all of a sudden the light goes on and it makes sense to them.”

Perseverance Pays Off

Polzin cites an example of a manufacturing company that was a long-time customer of BusinessWare’s IT solutions. The customer several years ago needed a new printer, which BusinessWare delivered and then explained its managed print services. The customer was not interested.

About nine months later the company needed another printer, and BusinessWare delivered the device and once again talked about managed print and the benefits it could potentially bring to the company. This time the manufacturer agreed to try the service, not only for the newer printers BusinessWare supplied but also for all its printer devices.

Between printer installations the company had been looking at managed print more closely, and decided that it did make sense, Polzin says.

In another instance, BusinessWare Solutions was working with a customer in the banking industry, initially providing a copier and then other devices. “We kept going back to explain the benefits of managed print,” Polzin says. When the bank finally went along, “we had to prove ourselves first with one device before they would sign on with the rest of their devices.”

Oftentimes the turning point for customers comes after they study the numbers and realize the savings they can see with managed print, or when a high-level executive gives managed print a thumb’s up.

But sometimes, Polzin says, it’s just a matter of catching a customer at the right moment, “when he’s not preoccupied with other things, when he can understand the full impact of managed print that he could not understand before.”

Although managed print makes sense for a lot of companies, it can be difficult to quantify in some cases, Polzin notes. But if you catch a customer in the right frame of mind, when he can focus on the concept of outsourcing print services rather than pushing the idea into the background, a sale becomes a real possibility.

With a lot of persistence, hard work, a strong sales staff and the help of resources such as Xerox PagePack, BusinessWare Solutions has built a successful and profitable managed print services business.