Don’t Overlook SMBs

Enterprises with deep pockets may look like attractive candidates for new managed printer contracts—and they certainly are. But this select group also requires longer sales cycles, which means that most VARs and MSPs won’t be able to focus exclusively on the biggest prospects.

Enterprise MPS contracts can be a windfall. Channel executives who participated in the comprehensive “State of MPS 2011” survey pegged the average monthly value of an MPS contract for large enterprises at $17,000, or more than twice that for midsize organizations and more than three times the values from small companies. But closing deals also takes much more legwork and patience. Only 55 percent of deals for new enterprise customers were finalized in 13 weeks or less, while the number rose to 67 percent for midsize firms and hit a whopping 83 percent for small businesses.

Numbers like these explain why SMBs help some VARs cultivate a thriving MPS business. One example is LaserComp, a Detroit-area company that counts on SMBs for about 70 percent of its business. Even so, LaserComp doesn’t go after small companies, per se.

“I don’t consider company size; it doesn’t play as much into the equation as print volume,” says Dale Fulkerson, owner. “What are they printing? That’s the key to establishing whether we will move in with a managed print solution. We’ve got guys who are designers who do a ton of printing and they’re one-man offices.”

So what does Fulkerson look for? Print volumes of around 1,000 pages per month. “Anything below that I tend to get squirrely,” he says. “I think they’re not ready for managed print.”

But he doesn’t completely count out even these low-volume prospects—he’ll even make exceptions under the right circumstances. “We try to get a feel for whether a potential customer will experience any growth,” he explains. “Who knows? You’ve got to take a chance.”

SMBs or enterprises: where are the big bucks in your market?