Sales Strategy Case Study: Taking The Managed Print High Road

Bob Melso has been in the managed print services game almost from the start.

As vice president for Westchester, Pa.-based DocuSense, Melso has seen the market evolve over time. DocuSense has been selling managed print services since 2004 (and has been a Xerox Peak Elite partner since 2002).

“In 2004 when we approached people with this idea they’d say, ‘Managed print? — what’s that?’ But now they say, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve heard of that.’ The good news is that now we don’t have to start from square one,” says Melso.

“But with more people coming into the market, there are some people who say they know how to do it, and they don’t. They leave a bad impression,” says Melso. That can put a real hurdle in place for real managed print pros like Melso and DocuSense, which has more than 1,000 customers.

His observation is backed up by research. In the latest Magic Quadrant report on managed print services by Gartner (September 2010), the market research firm noted a bifurcation in the market between vendors selling the “high road” of managed print and those taking “the low road.”

Those selling the low road, according to Gartner, tend to sell managed print as a hybrid discount selling practice: “Rather than take the time to help customers understand and make a persuasive case for MPS, some providers have simply redefined their services in a way that minimizes the risk of losing the deal to cutthroat competition, but undercuts most of the benefits of MPS”"

“If you boil it down, we’re trying to warn them about the freight train that will hit them and why they need to get a handle on it.” —Bob Melso, DocuSense

Those taking the high road, on the other hand, are the ones who (according to Gartner) sell on value and invest enough in needs assessments to demonstrate the savings and other benefits of MPS to eager advocates in multiple departments.

The high road

DocuSense practices the high road approach. Melso agrees that managed print sales have to be targeted to the right decision makersÐand be based on sound data.

“You really have to take it to a higher level. It’s more a financial decision than anything else because at the end of the game you’re providing financial gain to someone who needs it,” says Melso.

When it comes time to make the managed print sale, Melso stresses the importance of data gathering and assessments.

“You have to be very careful about things like the audit, presentation and making sure the numbers are factual. You have to find a way to produce good data,” says Melso. “My advice is if you don’t have the stomach for that, stay away from this. If you don’t have your processes down and believe in them, you’re going to get frustrated.”

As noted by research from the Institute for Partner Education & Development (IPED), best-in-class managed print providers often have longer sales cycles to existing print clients than non-best-in-class providers. Melso says that makes sense,as it takes time to build trust with existing customers and to observe where pain points are in an organization to craft a managed print solution.

For customers implementing managed print, Melso says all the talk about fast ROI and immediate benefits are borne out by the facts.

“In terms of ROI, many times there’s no investment or very little. So the ROI can almost be immediate since there’s no capital outlay,” says Melso.
Explaining the cost of unmanaged fleets is a big emphasis at DocuSense. The company’s blog, for instance, has postings explaining average costs per employee for printer fleets — costs few customers may be aware of.

Melso says there are other benefits that are less tangible than costÐbut still just as important.
Melso calls these benefits the “invisible” advantages of managed print. Among those advantages is the ability to simply take the management headache of networked printer fleets off the table. Another advantage is simply being able to right-size the customer-s printer fleet — rather than replacing one MFP with another.

“It’s nice to save them on supplies and services, but really reducing the placing of unnecessary devices is key,” says Melso.

“If we boil it down, what we do for customers is make them aware of a problem that may not be in their face,” says Melso.”"We’re trying to warn them about the freight train that will hit them and why they need to get a handle on it.”

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