Qualification is Key

Selling managed print services requires plenty of up-front activity.  Not just the “1,000 phone dials get 100 conversations get 10 appointments” kind of pre-sales work. I am referring to the kind of toil that ranges from assessment, walk-through and configure to price up, present, close and execute.

Today, there are lots of “tools” designed and pitched as time savers, short cuts in collecting data and calculating your cost. These wiz-bang packages generate proposal templates complete with fleet data and pricing. Even with all these nifty tools a minimum of 15 business days could and should be required to acquire base information about fleet content and rough volumes. But even then getting the deal is just a 50/50 chance.

Some MPSers’ approach this in a shotgun manner by walking in, looking at the number of machines, guessing at coverage and volumes, jotting a CPI (cost per image) on a contract and closing—hard.

No assessment. No study. No analysis.  No recommendation.  No Soul.

Why sell MPS like this?  Because it’s easier. One doesn’t need to go through a 15-30 day study for simply a 50 percent chance of winning. Heck, if we walked in, asked just a few questions, utilized our industry knowledge, put a number on a contract and asked for an “authorization,” our chances would be 50/50 – with only a 15 to 20 minute investment of time.  Same odds, less time, better return on investment.

So the big question is, how do we get the odds in our favor? Qualification. It all starts with qualification.

There is one effective technique that may work for you. Install your infrastructure software (Xerox PagePack, FM Audit, PrintFleet etc.) as a 30-day trial at the first appointment.  Start this process early, make the installation as easy as possible, but get it installed. Also important: bring up the security issues, face resistance head on and embrace every objection – better now than after the agreement is authorized. In short, qualify.

Remember, your infrastructure software is required for you to fulfill toner requirements and collect meter reads. The software has got to be installed someday, correct.

Here’s the gold – if your prospect won’t let you install your infrastructure software, he doesn’t intend on buying from you. He is not qualified. He does not deserve your up-front time. To paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Star Wars sage: “…Move along.  These aren’t the ‘droids we’re looking for…”

Qualify.