Managed Print Problem Solving – What You Need to Know

Managed services, including print, is a relatively new concept for many companies. There are bound to be problems and challenges that crop up – for resellers as well as for their customers. Learning how to address these difficulties is a key to being successful in the market.

A move to any managed services, including managed print, requires a huge organizational shift, so you need to get your sales staff and other employees thinking about how they can help grow the business.

"It requires some education," says Michael Trevisan, president of Atlantic Office & Laser Products Inc., a Beltsville, Md., Xerox Peak Partner and provider of print management solutions to business in the greater Washington, D.C., and Baltimore area.

Managed print "is not a tremendous change from what we were already doing," Trevisan says. "We’ve been providing service supply agreements for 20 years, and now we’re starting to get into managed print as well. But where we have to have more awareness is being able to deal with a different set of issues that we didn’t have when we were doing hardware support. Customers are looking for you to assist them in ways you didn’t assist them before."

That means training employees to handle the support issues that arise with managed print, and making sure they’re well-versed in the terminology, pricing and other aspects of managed print. They need to be able to describe the key benefits of managed print: greater accountability, cost control, hedge against obsolescence and better economics, which are solutions to the inability to determine printing costs, invisibility of costs, wasted supplies and out-of-control costs.

Resellers need to educate customers as well. Many companies are not yet comfortable with the idea of managed print services or aware of the potential benefits such as cost savings, Trevisan says. "We’ve been trying to [get customers to] make a shift to the managed print environment," he says. "People seem to move slowly in making a decision. They fear making a change. Unlike buying a piece of hardware, this is new to a lot of businesses."

Atlantic Office and Laser Products has saved customers thousands of dollars by providing affordable print solutions, and one of the challenges is creating awareness of the savings that can be realized. For example, many businesses aren’t aware of print costs and often lose money due to excess inventory, obsolescence, leakage and imprecise ordering practices. With managed print, they can better control costs, minimize downtime and add convenience.

For those customers that have invested in managed print services, one of the concerns that comes up is that they’re exposing their printing devices to an outside entity. "We can view every printer; we do screen shots to see if a printer is low on toner," for example, Trevisan says. He says it’s up to the service provider to quell the fears by ensuring customers that access is limited to printing devices, and that this access enables the reseller to respond to needs more quickly and help ease the burden of print management.

Other customer problems that come up include having partial print management solutions that only cover a portion of their printers (for example, the customer has 60 printers but only 25 are eligible for a managed print program), and the need for compatible printing supplies. Service providers need to work with customers to resolve these issues effectively, Trevisan says.

Why is it so important for solution providers to master problem solving? "If you provide a viable solution, you are a consultant, an asset to the client, and costs become secondary relative to service provided," Trevisan says. "It is most important to [developing] loyal customers."

Next in our series, we’ll look at managed print sales strategies and competitive displacements.

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