Your Business, and Managed Print 3.0

Within the next year-and-a-half or so, managed print services will be a serious consideration for any customer when they purchase a printer.

Photo:Tom McDonaldThat is the wisdom of Tom McDonald, president of NSI, a full-service solution provider and managed print provider in Naugatuck, Conn.

Managed print is opening up all sorts of opportunities for solution providers—and that’s not likely to change as more customers are attracted to the managed services model, says McDonald.

A little background: NSI offers solutions in several areas of IT, including virtualization, business continuity, disaster recovery, project development and network consulting. However, managed print services are becoming an increasingly important part of the business, says McDonald.

Managed print "means money for both NSI and our clients," McDonald says. "We can go into most clients and before doing an assessment confidently tell them we can save them 20 percent to 50 percent by moving to an NSI managed print solution. Even showing this savings we can earn a profit month after month."

Typically, customers have no idea how much they are spending on printing, McDonald says. "We convince them to do an assessment so we can show them that they’re currently spending X amount of dollars. That helps us give them a rock-solid number" on estimated savings. He says NSI recently worked with a long-term customer that had been receiving printing supplies from other sources. "We put them on complete managed care and their average cost [per printer] went from $50 a month to $30 a month, which was significant savings for them. It was not a small amount of [business] for us."

NSI, which began offering managed print services about three years ago, is seeing a growing percentage of its revenue come from that business. About 10 percent of its maintenance revenue is from managed print, and "we’re actively trying to grow it," McDonald says. "That’s the future for us. If we don’t do that our maintenance base will erode."

McDonald says one of the biggest challenges of developing a managed print business is selling the services. "It’s very hard to find salespeople that can articulate and show the value," he says.
"Part of the sales process is you have to propose an assessment and then present the findings, and for a lot of salespeople that’s a different model than they’re used to. It’s a slow cycle."

One of the most difficult aspects of selling the programs is getting to the right person at the customer organization. "A lot of times you’re dealing with a person who doesn’t have budget responsibility and you have to find the person who controls spending," McDonald says. "It’s a struggle; we haven’t been very successful at finding people who can sell managed services contracts. We’re trying to find people who are dedicated to selling managed print."

NSI has hired people who know the market and can collect and analyze customer data about printing costs, put together a presentation and work with salespeople to approach customers. "We [have] quality people to do that, to help articulate the benefits and answer questions," McDonald says.

Finding that kind of expertise will be increasingly important for companies as managed print becomes a bigger part of their business. "Eventually this will become the standard; vendors will only sell the device with a supplies contract because that is what the customer will demand," McDonald says. "Clients will simply pay for what they print. They will not buy any printers anymore," but will purchase service contracts that include the use of devices.

McDonald thinks in the future there won’t be such a thing as a "target" customer for managed print, for example a company with 20 or more print devices. "You’ll be able to find clients even with one device," he says. Within 12 to 18 months, he says, managed print will be a serious consideration for anyone when they purchase equipment.

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