Move Customers From Consideration to Commitment

Veteran managed service providers know it’s not always easy to get prospects to see the light when it comes to managed print services. Success takes perseverance, thorough knowledge of managed print benefits and some old-fashioned selling skills.

This is true even today, where more and more clients have a general understanding of managed print concepts. In short, customer understanding and customer commitment may be two different things.

“A year ago, managed print was really new to a lot of people,” says Buddy Carpenito, senior partner and owner of Print Administrate, a business unit of Technology Solutions of America in Winter Garden, Fla. Today, a lot of companies might know what managed print is but need to be convinced that it’s right for them, Carpenito says.

Print Administrate, a Xerox channel partner, provides print services mainly to health-care institutions and increasingly to large commercial customers.

Promote Business Benefits

Carpenito says it’s vital for companies that provide the service to understand how managed print can benefit customers, and then communicate those benefits clearly to prospects. Print Administrate focuses on six top benefits:

  • Fixed-cost models help manage the rising costs of consumables and services.
  • Managed print services frees customers to focus on business-critical tasks.
  • Uptime increase thanks to automated meter reads, error alerting and supply ordering.
  • More accurate forecasting and budget controls because companies determine printing and supply costs up front.
  • Reduced waste through ordering only the supplies needed.
  • Reduced energy consumption through printing analysis and device consolidation.

Know Your Audience

Depending on the customer, Carpenito will either try to get buy-in from the IT department or the finance department, and sometimes both. If it’s the IT department he’s trying to reach, the main selling challenge is demonstrating how managed print can help IT staff save time by not having to perform a number of print-related tasks. They can then devote that time to more productive endeavors and opportunities to improve processes.

“It becomes more convincing if you can pull together data showing how much time a person might be spending each day [on printing issues],” Carpenito says. “Show them the possible productivity gains and time savings, and that this is truly an outsourcing service” that can lead to a lot of benefits for IT.

When the target is the CFO or finance department, the selling strategy is a bit different. While many finance people are not directly involved in or responsible for printer operations, they are all concerned about costs and keeping them under control.

If you can show a finance chief how his organization stands to reduce printing costs, you’ll get his attention, Carpenito says. “We never go in and use the term ‘money saved.’ We say this will control your costs, which will eventually lead to money saved,” he says.

One way managed print can cut costs, aside from actual printing-related costs, is by eliminating all the labor costs associated with print operations. Many companies are holding the line on new hires and trying to do more with less.

“I will sit down with whoever pays the bills and show them how much time it takes to go through every single invoice, for every single department,” Carpenito says. “When the CFO or other finance person sees how long it’s taking people to process all these orders, and how with a single source of invoices and [a] reporting system they can pay the printing bill in 20 minutes, that’s the biggest seller.”

How To Open Doors

Getting to the decision-makers in IT and especially in finance can itself be a challenge, particularly for resellers just starting out in managed print. Carpenito says he’s been in the business for a long time and has access to his customers’ CFOs and IT managers. Sometimes Print Administrate has gained access to finance decision- makers through its IT contacts and makes the sales pitch to both groups at the same time.

Effective sales pitches also depend on having the right tools. Print Administrate leverages reporting tools from Xerox as well as those it developed internally. For example, the company uses software that enables it to drill down deeply into a customer’s printing usage and costs, so the customer can see clearly how workers are using print resources and how much the company is spending on all aspects of print.

“I’ll bring in a reporting tool and show the IT director what the company is doing with printing right down to the dollar,” Carpenito says. “The next thing I know the CFO wants to meet me.”