Quoting and Marketing Managed Print Services

In this Transformation Study we want to drive home the importance of effectively quoting and marketing your managed print services, two skills that we have shown can grow your profits by double digits when done right.

You can read the previous Transformation Studies where we do that math for you RIGHT HERE and RIGHT HERE.

But before you go, let’s look at quoting first.

Before the discussion on pricing even begins, you have to explain to the customer what managed print will mean for their business.

"Part of the process of quoting services to customers is letting them know that you’re offering a unique way to manage their printer fleet that revolves around better efficiencies," says Terry Williams, president of ATS Inc., a Raleigh, N.C., provider of printers and related services.

"This includes better visibility of the entire fleet, from a hardware utilization perspective as well as from a service and supply fulfillment perspective. Without this visibility, company executives will have a difficult time putting together an accurate budget."

It’s important to communicate that there are both short-term and long-term benefits of a managed print program, Williams says. While cost savings is always a critical factor, there are other considerations.

Terry Williams
"We create a message about a specific benefit of managed print, then do an e-mail blast to our target clients every 30 to 45 days. Overall, our objective is to continuously educate the customer through a consistent campaign." – Terry Williams, ATS

"Tell the customer up front that they will save time because they will no longer need to dedicate IT resources to troubleshooting service-related issues or managing toner inventory," he says.

Compared with the traditional break/fix scenario that so many companies are accustomed to, a successfully deployed managed print solution will also maximize the total value of ownership.

"With the program structured around a single monthly invoice that is based on a fixed cost per page, companies can eliminate a variable expense and more accurately track their annual spend,"Williams says.

This sets the stage for the discussion on pricing. And determining the best pricing is the hard part for many managed print providers. Each customer is unique in terms of its existing printer infrastructure. Some will have mostly locally connected printers, some will have networked printers and many will have a combination of both.

One challenge is that so many companies today have locally connected printers. "Managed services are basically geared for networked devices, so when you have a client with a significant percentage of local devices there might be a big disconnect when it comes to usage and cost," Williams says.

The important thing to remember when quoting prices is it’s not one size fits all. "You will run into a scenario [where] every customer is unique and you have to treat each one differently," Williams says.

"You have to take the time and energy and effort to get a better understanding of their environment and their needs, and based on that try to bundle something together. This is not easy; it’s a challenge. But the effort can be very rewarding" when it results in a successful, long-term managed print relationship.

The effort in creating a good marketing program can also be rewarding for solution providers. Williams, who purchased ATS in February, says the company’s marketing program for managed print is still a work in progress. But he’s already seeing positive results from the effort.

ATS uses a combination of marketing channels to get the word out about its managed print services. The company has found that one of the most effective ways to reach existing and prospective customers is through targeted e-mail.

"We create a message about a specific benefit of managed print, then do an e-mail blast to our target clients every 30 to 45 days," Williams says. "Overall, our objective is to continuously educate the customer through a consistent campaign. So far, we’re getting some good feedback and have had some appointments as a result." Another benefit of the e-mail campaign is that it’s driving traffic to the company’s Web site, which is another medium for marketing the managed print services.

ATS also subscribes to an online service that for a monthly fee provides access to prospective customers based on criteria such as location, industry and number of employees.

The really good news? ATS just hired two sales reps who are dedicated to cultivating new managed print accounts.

Next in the series, we’ll look at full-fleet management, the pinnacle of managed print.

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