Some Headaches Just Won’t Go Away

There was a lot to like about 2011 when it came to managed print services. Research conducted by The Business Transformation Center and other organizations pointed to continued growth in the market as well as increased acceptance among end users to the whole service-based approach.

But let’s also be realistic. VARs and MSPs faced some nagging frustrations as they tried to get customers to sign off on multiyear services contracts. The Business Transformation Center recently asked some established managed print providers to describe some ongoing headaches and here are three that came up regularly:

Pain Point No. 1: Many customers are still balking at opening their doors to an assessment. We’re hearing that managed print providers will work to gradually gain a prospect’s trust, although others are taking a more direct approach. Instead of hammering away at a full assessment, they are focusing on establishing a pilot project using one workgroup or a single printer. The strategy is to gather data from the pilot for a few months and use the results to push for a larger engagement.

Pain Point No. 2: Beating back competition from copier dealers. Competing for the same customers isn’t the only problem. Outdated, misaligned cost-per-page contracts pushed by these dealers can poison the well for everyone selling managed print. One answer is for print VARs and MSPs to redouble their efforts to educate customers about how their solutions are designed to optimally manage printer and traditional copier fleets. Another important selling aid: reporting tools that give customers hard data about a solution’s effectiveness.

Pain Point No. 3: Getting “marginalized” by customers. Some clients force the VARs and MSPs they work with into inflexible categories—that’s the printer repair company, that’s who manages our servers, that’s who we buy our supplies from. It can be hard to break out of these molds, but that doesn’t mean managed print providers shouldn’t try. Schedule regular in-person visits, and augment them with direct-mail and e-mail campaigns, to hammer home the managed print message.

What problems are you still grappling with?