Sand Sinclair is Editor-in-Chief of imageSource magazine, a leading B2B trade publication for document imaging & office solutions for nearly 14 years. Sand is the former editor of Office World News and Office Furniture & Design, sister publications of imageSource. Sand additionally holds the title of ITEX Expo & Conference Director, overseeing the annual trade show’s conference / education agenda, information and special projects, including imagesource’s Perfect Image Awards for dealers as well as the ITEX/imageSource Advisory Council, consisting of industry leaders and peers. Sand’s publishing, communications and general media experience in the office trade, both print and digital, also include past TV scripting and live broadcast reporting for special events in NYC, Los Angeles and South Florida.
The advantages and services of the "cloud" are endless. So much variety, so many ways to manage content and services (and brokers) that when you stop and think about it, the prospect of how to manage data is only growing larger.
As the world of the cloud and its uses continues to turn, and electronic technology evolves at rapid speed (imagine when you can extend your business visit abroad by simply applying for an online visa, or voting in a Presidential Election when out of the country with just the click of a mouse?) - yet our government, (and most others) still have a long way to go to making convenient access to government services via the Internet a firm reality. The good news is that e-governance is on the rise and cost-effective cloud technology could spearhead its onward march. As more services are being integrated across sectors and agencies, the UN forecasts that more complex public sector services of the future will be delivered via the cloud.
The USA currently leads the global adoption of cloud technology in the public sector. As part of its "Cloud First" strategy, all US government IT investments in the steady-state will have to include an analysis of cloud-based alternatives in their budget submissions by September 2013. In fact, the US had already initiated the use of cloud-based collaboration systems such as Google Documents, and was the first government-wide system on the cloud back in 2010.
What is the most visible advantage of the cloud you ask? Well, it is cost efficiency. For instance, when USA.gov - the Federal Government's primary information portal - moved to a cloud-based solution, it brought in a whopping 72% cost saving of $1.7 million. But reduction in ICT spending touches only the tip of the iceberg. Governments are also adopting cloud technology for greater scalability, access to the latest technology, and the elimination of procurement hassles with universal access to wider resources.
Cloud technology and the virtualization of storage space have enabled governments to pursue the goal of green IT as well. The consumer likes that idea and so should you!
Overall, with these type of advantages, cloud technology in e-governance is expected to see higher adoption levels. It's important that you consider to adopt measures for your company that lead you toward gaining the 'cloud' advantage. Government is one important sector of a wide variety of other vertical markets as well...consider education, legal, banking, and so forth. The opportunities are endless.
On the heels of the most recent ITEX event held in Las Vegas, I came away convinced that the independent dealer or reseller has a significant opportunity to grow revenues and profits in the ever changing office imaging and technology industry. My opinion regarding the same started with a conversation I had while standing in the check-in line at the Rio Hotel with a parts and supply distributor. He noticed my backpack with a familiar industry logo on the same and introduced himself. We began to chat about the people and companies within the industry that we both knew and then our conversation gravitated towards results. We both discussed how the industry landscape had changed due to mergers and acquisitions and how each channel was competing aggressively for market share. The highlights of the conversation included...
Recent OEM unrest will continue and will have an impact on the independent channel. Manufacturer relationships will continue to change in the out years and the dealer channel needs to remain flexible to adapt to the same. Revisit inventory levels and best practices around seasonal buying. Are you committing to a brand that you might be competing with directly in your local marketplace or representing a manufacturer that might be exiting the industry? OEM's are interested in hanging onto market share, leverage your local presence as a means to secure best equipment and aftermarket pricing and NOT your willingness to provide them with an open or large PO as a concession for best landed cost. Keep inventory levels low to hedge your bet and manage change (i.e. change in models, change in manufacturer presence, mergers and acquisitions, etc.) successfully.
The $5MM to $15MM independent dealer is presented both with immense challenges and opportunity. As mergers and acquisitions occur at both the OEM and independent levels, the local dealer will be challenged with "mass" as a benefit to prospects when competing against its larger foes. These so called "large" providers will tout a national footprint, access to multiple brands, technology allowing for solution-centric approaches, and size as a means to deliver cost effective pricing. To counter, continue to build alliances with other dealers, wholesale providers, leasing companies, and 3rd party providers that provide infrastructure and support that complement your offering to local prospects with a national presence and a desire to find a comprehensive provider. Become intimate with the propect's needs and deliver "accuracy, consistency, and speed" as a means to counter size. Clients value relationships, not a brand.
Attending the educational seminars and walking the floor of exhibitors present at the event reminded me that most of the products or solutions represented were focused on the independent channel and affording them an opportunity to broaden their scope of services without absorbing additional infrastructure costs. For instance...
- Numerous parts and supply distributors were present marketing their traditional products and services. However, most have built or will soon be introducing MPS and MS services to complement their offering and provide the independent dealer with a partner that can assist with prospects that require out of geography support. Evaluate their respective programs and select a partner that best aligns with your go to market strategy (i.e. response time guarantees, replacement policy, billing capabilities, etc.).
- Financial partners continue to be independent channel focused. More lease providers are beginning to offer invoicing solutions best representative of the solution sold... specifically those complex MPS and MS engagements. Seek out a provider that has a keen focus on employing technology as a means to serve your end users. Their deliverables and their customer service is what represents your organization in your absence when interfacing with your clients.
- SaaS based solutions are now the norm, not the exception. Dealers have access to solutions that do not require capital resources to acquire nor do they need to be housed on a local server to use their functionality. Invest in solutions that allow you to pay for them when utilized. Its important to employ solutions that allow the dealership to automate manual tasks. Automating tasks will deliver positive results on OI even if growing revenues cannot be attained YOY.
- Big data. There exists the opportunity to mine the data from a dealerships' ERP or CRM to truly impact revenues and profits. Targeted campaigns can be developed based upon data already captured and available. However, work with a provider that enjoys its core competencies in software development. They will be more prone to customize a solution tailored to address your needs without waiting for a new version or release targeted at an application that has already changed.
Although the industry is rapidly changing, the opportunity for the independent dealer to build alliances that far exceed its traditional reach and scope is the greatest the channel has ever seen. Having the foresight and the courage to consider changing existing business models to keep pace with these industry changes is a question that must be addressed by each.
Source: Coach's Corner Blog
Bill Salm, Jr. (www.linkedin.com/in/billsalm/) is a twenty-six year office imaging and technology professional capable of assisting an organization grow revenues and profits by employing technology to automate tasks. Feel free to contact him at email@example.com or 703-577-8529.
In mid-April, Andrew Palmer and I head to the USA for the ITEX 2013 Conference in Las Vegas (plus I'll be dropping in for the last day at US Masters Golf tournament in Augusta - thanks Troy and Hawk).
Apart from four days in Las Vegas and the chance to cross Augusta off my bucket list, why spend the time and money to do this? Sharing a room with Palmer is no fun!
Attending the ITEX conference is all about finding out what is NEXT - learning more about cutting-edge technology and systems that can benefit our equipment vendors.
The USA uses advanced search engines that credit score people and companies pretty much from the time they start paying a bus fare to get to school – or so it seems. Watch any American TV show and you will often hear them talk about someone's credit rating. Not so here in Australia. Yes we have Veda (CRAA) but this information is tightly held, which means you have to go and find the information to approve an individual or company's finance application.
For this reason, comparing finance approval turnaround times between the two countries is not a level playing field. But what I am really interested in at the ITEX conference is the technology. Last time I was in the USA I showed people in the equipment finance industry SICO, S.E. Rentals' finance deal-tracking software. The response was overwhelming - they were blown away, even though we couldn't deliver the turnaround times the Americans could due to the automation of their approval processes.
What is ITEX going to be like this time around when we investigate the technology available for equipment finance approvals?
- Will clients only have to sign a computer screen – like when a courier delivers a parcel?
- Does everyone have online approval systems with 7 seconds to make a decision?
- If so, what's the percentage of deals getting approved without human interaction?
- What pricing range do they go up to?
- What do they arm the vendor's sales person with to close the sale?
You see, S.E. Rentals is developing all of these technologies. My hope is that we will find companies in the USA already doing these things which will hopefully give Andrew and I a ‘heads up' on how to do it well.
So my agenda will read like this:
- Keep an eye on Adam Scott at the Masters.
- Keep an eye on Andrew in Vegas.
- Keep an eye on new vendor equipment finance technology that will work here in Australia.
I'll let you know how I go on all three fronts.
Managing Director, S.E. Rentals
You're invited to follow S.E. Rentals @SE_Rentals on Twitter and join the discussion in our LinkedIn group.
Source: S.E. Rentals Blog
S.E. Rentals specialises in vendor equipment finance. We help quality Australian equipment vendors make more sales by providing world class point of sale finance solutions for their customers.
By: Steve Sykes
I get asked all the time, “Can you help my team close more sales.” When I then ask the person to tell me what they are looking for the emphasis is always on closing as an event. This belief would lead the average business owner to believe there exists a superstar closer; you simply “wheel them in” when it’s time to close the sale and you are guaranteed to be booking revenue. I even reviewed a document from an industry sales trainer today that assigned points to the daily events performed by sales professionals: Right at the top of the point earning events, 15 points for a “closing appointment,” tied for the most points with a “proposal review/demonstration appointment.” I marvel at how somebody was able to scan that document off of the cave wall.
The other thing I hear all the time is that that people buy from people they like. Whether or not you agree with either of these beliefs, let’s take a look at a “superstar closer” and how that affects your relationship.
A couple of year ago my wife decided to replace all of the windows in our house. I learned a long time ago not to question what my wife does around the house—I consider it her domain—so don’t ask me why we were buying new windows, but we were. She called one of the well known brand’s “replacement division” and the inside sales person who took her call set the appointment with the insistence that “both the husband and wife be present.” I told my wife to inform them that she made all the decisions around the house but they weren’t coming out if I wasn’t there. I already knew how this was going to play out but I needed to fall back on my primary guiding principle, “Happy wife happy life,” and I agreed to meet the sales person.
The sales person was on time, so he started out on a positive note, and went right into his litany of unique features to his windows, with some advantages we would receive by installing them. Keep in mind that we called his company so we had already made a commitment to replace our windows. I’d also mention we were predisposed to buy the product he was selling since they had a stellar reputation, and his company was “the replacement division” for that product. But he was the first person we spoke to and we were going to spend over $30,000 so we wanted to speak to at least one other company, possibly two.
After numerous vain attempts to get us to sign—promotions only available on this visit, etc.—he told us that if we didn’t buy now that he would not be allowed to come back. In other words we could not get the windows we wanted because it was now or never. Keep in mind that this brand is available at Home Depot, simply not the “replacement models” this person was selling. To take it a step further he could not leave without calling his manager.
If this company didn’t insist on my participation in this meeting my wife could have bought the windows and I wouldn’t even know until somebody appeared to do the work, or if I was traveling until I came home and noticed we had new windows. Based on their insistence that I attended the presentation and the “now or never” close, I guess they must have shared a cave with the person who developed the aforementioned point system. But now I was glad they insisted that I attend because I made up my mind that there was zero chance of this guy getting money from my family—zero. Even if my wife wanted to buy the windows from him I’d lobby so hard she’d move onto her second choice.
I don’t want to minimize this guy’s efforts as he did a great job of articulating the features and benefits of his product and he consistently tried to close us. When I pointed out that I could buy the brand at other locations he pointed out the differences between the replacement models and the models they sold at Home Depot. Forget the fact that this top of the line manufacturer wasn’t producing an inferior product; he never asked what was important to us. He was totally focused on the features and advantages of his product and on “closing” the sale.
Have any of you been through a similar experience? Even if you agreed to buy what did you think of the salesperson—did you consider it the beginning of a great relationship? So what did the hard closer accomplish? He practiced a lot of closes on me, they didn’t work, and he lost all credibility by pushing too far and focusing on features and advantages; I would never do business with him again. Let’s say he had some unbelievable price so I did buy at that meeting: There would be no chance I’d ever want to see him again.
How do you actually close more sales? That’s easy; uncovering a solid business case by asking great questions, listening attentively, and focusing on moving the sale forward with every meeting. The best closers are those that spend their time to uncover specific issues their product or service will alleviate, and understands the precise value of addressing those issues before they ever move to their proof source. After you’ve uncovered a quantifiable business case and you’ve proven that your product or service can address that business case closing will be as easy as “It seems like it make sense to move forward with the (your product or service) acquisition/installation, doesn’t it?”
So can I help you close more business: Absolutely. But in order to help you accomplish your goal we need to look at your sales methodology. The “close” is simply the final event of playing a great game.
For more information visit www.strategydevelopment.com.
Congratulations on your decision to book your ticket to ITEX 2013!
Congratulations because it means you are continuing to invest in your business and you recognize how a few great ideas can provide a positive boost to your business results.
If you’re still on the fence about attending what many call the annual homecoming of the office imaging industry, perhaps you should rethink your schedule on April 16-18th and join us at the ITEX SHOW. A show the organizers are telling us is sure to impress attendees with their strongest line-up of educational seminars and capable vendors ready to offer their insights on how you can “Advance, Expand, and Evolve” your business.
Before you pack your bags, here’s what 3 of our more successful MPS providers are suggesting you do to maximize your ITEX ROI.
HAVE AN ITEX STRATEGY – before you go, put some thought into the people, places and things you want to accomplish. Maybe you have questions about growing your color page volumes within an MPS program? Maybe you want to catch a learning seminar on the influence mobile technology is having on print? Or perhaps you just want to catch up with some old friends and share some best practices? Whatever your reason is for attending, your ITEX ROI this year will be a lot higher if you have a plan before you go.
MEET PARTNERS FACE TO FACE – perhaps the biggest ROI we all get from attending a trade show is that old school value of doing business face to face. A chance to put a face to a name or to make a connection that can help you down the road. Meeting with current business partners is always a good idea. Ask what’s new, find out where they are headed, and most importantly how they can help you grow your business. If you agree that your customers may not be entirely familiar with all the services and value you can offer them, we suggest you make sure you’re up to speed on what your partners can do for you. And while you are at it make sure you visit our LMI booth 517 to see how other Copier Dealers, IT Service Providers, and Office Product Resellers are growing their MPS businesses and profits in 2013 with our new announcements!
FOLLOW THE LEADERS – there is an old saying “success leaves clues”. One of the LMI MPS dealers we asked to help us with this blog said that all he does is follow the top MPS vendors around the show to see what they are looking at. He joins them in product demonstrations and listens in on the questions they ask. He watches what seminars they attend and even introduces himself to ask their advice on topics like MPS Sales Compensation, or competitive differentiation. He says following the leaders is the biggest hidden secret in the art of maximizing your ITEX ROI.
DISCOVER THE UNTOLD TRUTH – print cartridge recycling programs have sprung up in droves to feed off the explosive growth in MPS. Do you know where your used print cartridges are going once they leave your office? Do your customers know where their cartridges are really headed? If you’ve ever wondered what happens to all those non-reusable cartridges that are cracked or broken, or you’re looking for the next big breakthrough in MPS, join me for my presentation Driving Supply Chain Profitability - Are you missing a few links? on Thursday April 18th at 11am in the Brasilia 3 room, Session P23.
So there you have it, 4 suggestions from some experienced MPS providers on how to maximize your ITEX ROI this year!
Do you have a trade show best practice that works – please tell us about it!
Click here to learn more and register for ITEX 2013!
(Source: LMI Solutions Blog)
By: Aaron Dyck
It’s “show time” this month as the annual ITEX Conference & Expo gets ready to kick off in Vegas soon! Naturally, ITEX will deliver key information on all aspects of the evolving office markets, with strong emphasis on the growing managed and IT services.
Sure, the successful MPS Strategy Forum will be spotlighted (along with the Managed Services forum), but look forward to finding a new and powerful “Document Management & Workflow Solutions Zone” with some of today’s leading vendors loaded with cool tools for the taking. Overall, the show houses a terrific exhibit floor with leading vendors as well as valuable education tracks to help dealers and providers tackle today’s most critical challenges along with the playbook for operating successfully tomorrow.
Expect many in the office channel to be there seeking new methodologies, inventive technologies, strategic drivers led by mind sharing leaders in the industry. If you are a business provider seeking to evolve to meet the current shift in technology and how it affects your sales and services, make the trip to Vegas April 16-18 to learn what it takes.
Come out and examine new products, processes , platforms and people; network with peers including the members of IBPI, BTA, MPSA, CompTIA, and so much more, not to mention (but I will!) honoring the new 2013 imageSource Perfect Image Award winners who reflect what it takes for dealers to excel today. The Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, April 17 at 3:00 PM in the imageSource Live Theater (booth #147). Join us at ITEX 2013 – learn to Advance, Expand and Evolve your business.
See you on the show floor (imageSource booth #253) and the welcome reception! Don't hesitate to stop me and say hello!
Most of us gear up for good events like nail-biting Super Bowl’s, but aren’t you ready to break from all that football for quality tech talk to find what’s on the road ahead and on the horizon?
Well you’re in luck. If you’re currently embracing new technologies that are streaming toward the office channel, you are a provider who is changing the way you do business. The profits should be palpable. You know or will learn soon that if you navigate the waters seeking fruitful ways to develop revenue, albeit in unfamiliar territories, you will bring in or “bump into” the tech-y products that are becoming the core platform for newer programs. Think technologies with shortcut saving wireless/cloud features, rapid automation, unique software processes. Find the “Eureka, I’ve found it!” in developed (or partnered) IT/managed services, cloud document management; business process automation whose provisions continue to unfold. I can certainly confirm that with a reinvigorated plan to reposition or expand your company to engage “what’s now”- you’ll be securing your future “what’s in store tomorrow.”
Want to maximize these trends in play? Sure. Start with the latest tools available at ITEX.
If you are a dealer, reseller, or business provider that’s committed to “the services” and/or “workflow on steroids” – know that you’re on a good path leading to some kind of Hybrid Oz. If Toto’s part of the equation, all the better.
Now is the time to close the door on this indelible year, taking lessons learned into 2013. Just around the corner – and for those ready to take charge of their future - is a New Year ready with new innovations and claimable opportunities. While planning for 2013, don’t think it bold to have as much speculation as expectation. Be bold. The old adage “if in doubt, do nothing” does not apply here. If in doubt, investigate, research, analyze, inquire, learn what it takes to make the necessary changes to your business in order to claim the hard-won prizes on the near horizon. And there will be wins, believe me. Without question, 2012 will go down as a year to remember – as many say, “the good, the bad, the ugly…but also the planned efforts of laying groundwork to reap a harvest in 2013. Amid an economic slump to a slow revival, a nail biter presidential campaign, a superstorm that claimed coastlines and cities, amid the ongoing shenanigans of Wall Street and big banks, we persevered and dove back in, going for the gold.
Mid-summer is upon us with most sweating out the heat wave while looking forward to ramping up business in the fall. Regardless if you’re cooling off in your office, a remote business location or home, our mobile devices and use of social media and “Web tools” are keeping us informed. Sure, we find what we need to know though many technologies today, not least of which are those people seeking information on your own company’s products and services. I love today’s technology! We each can utilize it to our own advantage; customize it even; changing what we need 24-7.
And if use of technology for business use brings a constant stream of branding and visibility to provide real benefits, how hard it is to take advantage of? Sure, you need to get the basics down then “graduate” to a professional looking message outreach or top-notch corporate communication strategy, depending on the size of your company, but harnessing compiled data to display to the world, continually updating it with fresh content, will keep your clients informed on your company’s “latest news” while enticing new prospects. Not rocket science, but something to not take for granted or think stale messaging will suffice. As dealers and business professionals alike all know, sweating out the summer or not, you have to be continually competitive today through social marketing and your company’s website “calling card” in order to keep that credibility going – and to build from. Here’s a basic reminder of some key benefits and advantages all this can provide you:
- Yep, saves money. Using social media and driving customers/prospects to you website instead of the cost of sending mailers and printed flyers is reason enough, and less than print ads, while keeping phone bills in check. However, know your market outreach; a mix may be a good idea if your customers are “high end” so find what works best for your type customer/type of products.
- Delivers prospects. Sure, we know social media and a good company website provides a cost-effective way to both keep and find new customers who search online; and often by keywords, so keeping your ranking visible is a key marketing tool on the ‘net. Prospecting around the globe is a component that can further expand your customer base, and makes it convenient for visitors to learn and purchase your products directly online.
- Positioned as an authority. Spotlight your strengths. Share that you or your team are value-added experts; try posting how-to guides, advice on maintenance of products, useful facts, tips, trends, even things to avoid, etc. Consider writing a blog! These are all “traffic builders.”
- Saves time. Reduce your time customer service department’s time on the phone or the need to personally email back answers to routinely asked questions by creating a “Most Frequently Asked” page which is easily found on your site; i.e. besides products and services, your hours, phone, email, or your local address. A website is a great tool to get & give client inquiry feedback.
There are many good articles on social media, mobile device use, and Web building tips from experts in our industry, found on our imageSource website. Just click the “Achives” tab and keyword in a topic! I hope that you keep your content fresh and updated and take advantage of the various “tech-marketing aid tools”! Learn and enjoy!