Take a ‘Lite’ Approach To Assessments

Standard practice is for a VAR to perform an assessment of a client’s printer environment before writing a managed print proposal and contract. But that’s easier said than done.

One problem comes from the customer side. Many are reluctant to let a VAR install monitoring tools and gather detailed printer usage data for the next 30 days or more. Some prospects see it as a Big Brother intrusion into the company’s internal operations, with the likely result being that the information will only benefit the VAR’s sales staff.

The second problem is the resource strain assessments impose on VARs. The data-gathering phase is time-consuming, and then the real work begins. VARs need to aggregate the information, analyze it, organize the results into a cohesive format and then create a proposal that explains the business case for managed print. But there’s no guarantee that the right people—namely the decision-makers who will need to sign off on a contract—will make time to hear the VAR’s full presentation.

For many managed print providers, the resulting business isn’t always worth the effort. That’s why some VARs have developed a two-pronged assessment strategy. First, take the traditional, full-blown assessment approach when a big opportunity presents itself and the potential reward justifies the resource-commitment risks. Second, use “Assessment Lite” for smaller prospects. Create a pilot-project proposal where managed services will be applied to one or perhaps two printers based on usage assumptions gleaned from historical data. Then after six months or a year, use the results to demonstrate the value of managed services and develop accurate pricing for long-term contracts that span larger numbers of devices.

The result: VARs and clients alike get the information they need to make a bigger commitment, while neither face the real or perceived fears that assessments can spawn.

Tell us how tough it is to get prospects onboard with assessments and what you do to win them over.