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Avoiding Mistakes When Conducting Print Assessments

4 Dec, 2012 By: David Ramos

This “at-a-glance” list, an excerpt from industry consultant David Ramos, is aimed at helping you overcome some general MPS challenges. Here are some key mistakes frequently made by managed print specialists when conducting assessments, including reasons for low close ratios on contracts:

1. They (specialist) wants to use a non-disclosure before doing an assessment.  If you have an advocate with juice and have built your business case through pain, why would you put an obstacle in place for getting the assessment completed?
2. They take on doing an assessment for the 200+ printer installation with their largest customer first.  There is a learning curve involved, learn on the smaller installations and work your new process for service and back office operations
3. They believe by using ONLY a Data Collection Agent – (DCA) they will collect the data faster and more accurately.
4. They believe DCA software will give them 100% of the information needed to create a financial proposal. 
5. They miss key data by not conducting an effective walk-through of the prospects environment.  A walk-through of the facilities helps identify connected printers not scanned by the key; local printers;  the remaining imaging and print devices such as faxes and standalone copiers;  and looks for redundancy in technology,  i.e. printers, faxes, scanners and copiers all in the same workroom or office location.  It also allows you to talk to end users about how they use the printers in their area and where they store their “local” supplies.
6. This isn’t a slam on software companies, but my point is:  the software is a tool but isn’t a replacement for doing the walk-through.

The points mentioned happen all too often and are the result of either over-complicating or over- simplifying the process by skipping the walk-through and missing key data necessary to ensure a high close ratio on contracts.  Remember the key goal of MPS is to manage then optimize your prospect’s imaging and printing environment, and to balance cost, ratio of employees to assets, and technology.

It is critical to assess the entire imaging and printing fleet, not just the printers, and many specialists lose sight of that and focus on desktops only.  This speaks to the level of detail you need in your walk-through.  In an initial walk-through assessment of an imaging and printing fleet of 50 to 60 assets, it will take between 90 to 120 minutes to complete, and there are variables like the level of security in a building, the layout; but the 90 to 120 minutes is average.   You want to identify scanners, fax units, copiers, data center printers, digital duplicators, etc. 

Quickly, let’s identify the tools to conducting the assessment and an effective walk-thrpigh to identify their imaging and printing environment:

1. Rapid assessment key (RAK) or data collection agent (DCA) tool.
a. You can make the assessment process easier with tools like FM Audit’s WebAudit. WebAudit is a perfect complement to the managed print services sales process. Conducting a print assessment with a USB key requires two visits to a client: one visit for the initial meter readings and a second visit for the final readings. While the first meter reading is typically conducted on a sales call where the rep proposes an assessment, the second meter reading is often an inconvenience to the client. FMAudit enables one call assessments. Simply use the USB key to take the meters on the first visit. For the second meter reading, simply email the WebAudit link.
2. Guide to pulling a device’s meter count manually for local printers and faxes.
3. Digital camera or cell phone with camera, this data is very effective in communicating their situation when you get to the financial proposal.  Visuals help communicate the story to everyone involved, from finance to facilities to IT.

At the conclusion of your assessment process you should have all the data you need to work through a strategy with the prospect and create a compelling proposal for closing the contract. 

You can be successful in MPS; you can realize increased revenue and margins.  It requires dedication and focus, the same dedication and focus that made your company successful in hardware sales.  You want to close more MPS contracts and build up your MPS program. correct?

Ensure your print specialists know how to conduct thorough assessments.  Don’t allow them to overcomplicate or simplify the process; be thorough but flexible as each situation will be slightly different.  And remember, it will be impossible for anyone to justify MPS on a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) basis without the necessary information… so you have to work hard to get it!

About the Author: David Ramos

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