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Are You Being Attacked by an MPS “Super Villain” From Within?

6 Feb, 2013 By: Sarah Henderson, West Point Products imageSource

Wouldn’t it be great if life were like the movies and dealerships could call on a group of super heroes to swoop in and solve problems they may face with Managed Print Services (MPS) or other program implementations? That was my epiphany recently when I discussed with a dealer their frustration surrounding the execution of MPS. While I was able to offer solutions to many of the operational issues this dealer was facing, I was not able to provide a solution to address the inability or lack of desire among the dealer’s personnel to implement and execute.

While assisting with MPS implementations across North America, I have come to realize that dealers are often fighting the same types of villains that attack before the dealer is able to launch or grow MPS programs successfully. Even if dealers have not enjoyed a classic comic or cartoon lately like I have, they should be able to recognize and watch out for these villains who may be lurking and attacking MPS programs from within.

Dr. Doom’s Evil Influence

The Dr. Doom of MPS programs is not the same Victor Von Doom character that suffered an accident that caused his face to be scarred. What the Dr. Doom dealers need to be on watch for is the manager, essential department head or key influencer who feels scarred by the changes or demands that MPS has forced upon them. These villains may be outspoken or even worse, passive aggressive, in the way they express their opposition to the program; but in their own way these characters undermine MPS programs.

Some of this villain-like behavior may stem from a lack of willingness to change. This staff member may need to revisit the classic book Who Moved My Cheese in order to gain the insight they need to embrace the change required in the imaging industry today. At the same time, it may be that this villain’s doubt comes from a sincere concern about whether MPS is the right direction for the dealership. In dealerships that face this challenge, it is imperative that senior management and ownership are clearly on board and championing MPS; that they have the business plan developed and reflected within the company’s goals, and within individual and team performance metrics and employee evaluations adjusted for MPS.

A dealers’ Dr. Doom could be the service manager who doesn’t want to adjust delivery models or embrace printers as being “profitable” within the fleet. Other examples are service leaders who fail to train or hire technicians to triage and work on additional brands and/or printer lines or those who refuse to consider outsourced resources for distant installations that may be required by MPS programs. An equally damaging doomsday villain is the sales manager who undermines the dedicated MPS resources by not opening up “named accounts” or by not requiring reps to follow the proper steps for an MPS sales process, or by not implementing or enforcing compensation plans designed to drive MPS deals. While it may be painful, dealership leaders should take a moment to ask themselves if they may be exhibiting or enabling any Dr. Doom-like behaviors via a perceived or real lack of commitment to MPS.

The Joker is Not a Closer

The Joker villain that MPS resellers need to be on the watch for within their businesses is not the Batman’s most dangerous foe dressed in a crazy suit; rather, it is the failed completion of a successful MPS sale. But just like the real Joker, this villain within the dealer’s business is unpredictable and surprisingly cunning. Making this villain even more dangerous, the Joker is most often a skilled sales professional or manager, making it difficult to pinpoint this villain. But when it comes to the MPS business model the Joker often lacks the discipline, knowledge or training to complete the steps to a successful sales process.

While the demise of the MPS sales engagement may not be the Joker’s goal, it is often the result; assessments are not completed, there is a lack of attention to uncovering pain points for MPS, proposals are stalled, inaccurate pricing assumptions are made, or contracts are executed that facilitate unmet expectations or confused clients. It is up to dealership sales leadership to assess if the Joker is simply not properly trained on a sales process for MPS vs. traditional transactional sales or if he lacks the core personality and skill set to be successful with MPS consultative sales.

Just like the real Joker, this villain can be a very popular or charming personality within your business or even one of your more tenured sales personnel. The key to reforming a Joker is for dealers to commit to a defined MPS sales process that managers train sales reps on and hold them accountable to. If a dealership lacks the training materials, support, or tools to implement, this can be the solution to a Joker who simply needs more than an off-site workshop or reference materials to implement MPS sales. In addition, some dealers negate the Joker by deploying an MPS specialist for more technical or detail orientated tasks within a sales process. Either way, I recommend that dealers look to train their entire organization and follow the process or a Joker can prevail in derailing MPS engagements.

The Green Goblin Eats Your Profits

I choose the Green Goblin as the last MPS villain because this example can represent a person or a process within your MPS program and can be the most damaging to your bottom line. Even worse, the Green Goblin can strike within the sales process or rear its ugly head after a contract is executed. The victim of this Goblin villain is the same green all dealers value: revenue. If the Green Goblin is a person, it is generally tied to the attributes of the Joker described above. As well, dealers should also examine if this villain exists within their sales process and pricing practices for MPS.

The first area to seek out the Goblin is within a dealer’s MPS assessments pre-sale. I recommend when possible that dealers acquire actual costs vs. assumed costs when preparing pricing and proposals. If a Joker is present, they may make the excuse that is too hard to obtain the necessary information to capture actual spends for toner cartridges, equipment leases, break-fix service, etc. This just opens the door for the Goblin to create additional havoc. Instead dealers should train and provide the sales tools necessary for MPS sales reps to obtain this key information.

The next area to seek out this villain is within a dealer’s pricing process. After the sales rep has obtained the end-users actual spend, are they calculating the proposed costs with actual costs on the dealer with appropriate profit margin factored in? While this may sound like a simple question, there are areas where many dealers may be relying too heavily on assumptions or averages. For example, some dealers do not have established metrics on servicing costs for printer lines or different branded models. They may apply a standard service cost factor across the entire fleet and this is a major area for a revenue villain to attack. If service costs are underestimated the dealer may have a deal written at a rate that is no longer profitable in subsequent years of the contract. If service is overestimated, cost savings may not be demonstrated at the desired rate for the end user.

This same concept applies when calculating the cost of ink and toner cartridges into the “Cost-Per” pricing. If a dealer quotes out a MPS pricing assuming compatible cartridges and later discovers the end-user requires OEMs in certain devices; profits just shrunk again. The same is true as well if there is a compatible solution and the dealer quotes all or a blended OEM solution when the end user doesn’t require it. Having a disciplined sales process and accurate pricing tools are the key to defeating the Green Goblins of MPS.

If a dealer’s MPS program is being attacked from within by a Super Villain, now is the time to eliminate these program threats. But before a dealer may panic to flee from MPS, take time within the dealer leadership team to really assess the business and set goals and timelines to reach them; including how to defeat any villains on premises. And while dealers’ industry partners do not generally fly into an office wearing a cape, don’t forget we are here to aid and assist in a dealer’s successful deployment & growth with MPS.


About the Author: Sarah Henderson

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