Trust Trumps Fear

Trust is important in any relationship, and managed print engagements are no different. I was reminded of this when a solution provider commented recently about how many prospects are gun shy when VARs try to do an assessment of the existing printing environment.

Assessments, of course, are one of the earliest and most important steps in managed services deals. On the surface the reason is obvious—before you can provide an accurate quote you need to understand the customer’s business needs and current costs. Managed print veterans like to gather a minimum of 90 days worth of data to smooth out any anomalies in print volumes and usage patterns. And since most customers haven’t done the legwork on their own to accurately quantify what they’re spending–on printers, consumables and related expenses–you’d think they’d jump at the chance to get some hard numbers.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, and when you think about, you can’t really blame a recalcitrant client. “Many customers have had bad experiences with dealers who have abused the managed print concept and used the numbers against the customer,” one solution provider said recently.

How do you overcome fear and build trust? Find someone inside the customer site who can champion your cause will help. An incremental approach may also be effective. Start by asking for access to one workgroup or department. Gather print volume numbers from all the printers and multifunction products in that particular area and augment this data with observations from a physical walk through. Then sit down and lay out a plan for optimizing hardware, managing consumables costs and reducing the client’s management overhead in the test case.

When the prospect sees you’re working to create win/win solution the doors to the rest of the organization will eventually swing open.