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Document Management and Other Mysteries Solved

4 Dec, 2014 By: Steve Rolla, Pros Elite Group

About 10 years ago, and much against my financial advisors’ advice, I purchased horses for my daughters. I remember it as if it were yesterday. His advice was, “Do not purchase anything that depreciates and eats at the same time.” During the investigative period, prior to the purchase of these beasts, I found it almost impossible to get the answer to a very simple question; which was, “What does it cost to own a horse?”  I will provide the answer to that great mystery at the end of this article.

About three months ago, I began to prepare my address to the company presidents in the Pros Elite Group, for the annual “President’s Roundtable Meeting.”  During my presentation, I found that there was a new mystery question developing in the Office Imaging Industry, which was, ”How big is the North American market for printers and multifunction products that are forecasted for the period of time from 2014 through 2018?”

In the past, I found the information on market size readily available from any one of the offshore suppliers of MFPs and printers. This year, I found that same group more willing to tell me how much a horse costs than to tell me what the forecasted size of the market for MFP’s and printers would be. Ultimately, I broke the code and found out that the North American market for printers and MFP’s will shrink by 6% to 8% in the period 2014 through 2018. The Office Imaging market began to contract 2 to 3 years ago and its contraction will continue for the foreseeable future. You can well imagine why the suppliers of this these products do not want you to know this and have done their best to keep this quiet as it will most certainly provide the Office Imaging Dealer with a negotiating tool for future quotas. I do not consider this contraction of the market to be overly bad news because…. on the bright side, the market for Document Management solutions will grow in the 2014 through 2018 period of time from approximately $2 billion in size to $3 billion in size. 


Like everything else, there is a right way and a wrong way to become involved in the paradigm of Document Management solutions.  When I take a look across the broad spectrum of the 200+ dealers that my partners and I work with, the common denominators that have led some of these dealers to be far more explosive in growth and profitability are the same common denominator’s that will lead to success in the sales and marketing of Document Management solutions.

The most successful dealerships today represent two or less suppliers of MFP’s and printers.  They long ago recognized the lack of return on investment of having more than two product lines and more importantly, the lack of need for more than two product lines.  The world of Document Management solutions is filled with a number of providers.  The most successful dealers have limited the numbers of Document Management solutions they offer to one or two and have inspection processes in place to ensure that their rank-and-file sales reps are capable of introducing those solutions to their prospects. In addition to that, they have chosen the providers that deliver outstanding support to their sales reps in their selection process. They know the Benchmarks for activity and financial performance and the execution skills associated with selling these solutions. Perhaps that is the reason our Pros Elite Group Advanced Sales Management schools are already sold out for the first half of half of 2015.

Over the past two years, I have had many a dealer tell me that prospects no longer want or need to come in to look at a demonstration of a product or solution and therefore the use of their demo rooms is dramatically down.  I used to hear that in my dealership, too.  At the time, my Vice President of Sales was unwilling to accept that excuse (as should all dealers) and decided to inspect the demo skills of my sales reps, where he found them to be woefully inadequate. No one will demonstrate a product they can’t make work. I’ll ask you, the reader of this article, the question I ask our clients. Can your average sales representative demonstrate a segment 4 business color device, with a selected document management solution application? If they cannot, the explanation for why demos are down is a very simple one. I recently visited a dealership where the sales force is capable of demonstrating a business color device with a Document Management solution, and maybe I was just lucky, but on that day I saw six demonstrations being done.


One of my mentor’s is a gentleman by the name of Peter Shoemaker. Peter has the extraordinary ability to strap facts around any situation then make a great decision. One of the facts that the Office Dealer should take into consideration in the selection of a Document Management solution is; that 60% of those solutions that will be sold in 2015 and beyond will focus on Records Management and Human Resources applications. If the solution you have selected does not have its primary focus oriented around these two applications, I would suggest that your dealership continue its search.

I have sat through a number of presentations made by various DMS providers. Only a few of them have done a good job of directing their presentation to the decision influencers (the people who will use the application) in a client’s environment. All too often, many of the presentations are directed to an IT director, in a very large enterprise environment, and quite candidly, that is not where the average Office Dealer exists. Worse yet, these ornate applications require a dealer to make investments in Document Management solutions personnel that further deteriorate the sales expense structure of their organizations compared to the return that they get on these investments.

I will have the pleasure of making a presentation on this at the March 10-12, 2015 ITEX Expo in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with Michael Frattini from Square 9. If I were operating my own dealership today, Square 9 would be one of the solutions that I would offer.  In our conference session, Michael and I will do our best to minimize the mystery that surrounds Document Management solutions, and help dealers understand how they can build sales and marketing activities that can be plugged into their prospecting continuum’s that will lead to the dealership’s continued growth through 2018, regardless of the direction of their traditional MFP and printer supplier.  We hope to see you at ITEX!

In closing, if you lease a $50,000 production B to C device on a 60 month lease; you can own a horse for about the same monthly payment. Another mystery solved!

Steve Rolla is Senior Partner, Pros Elite Group, an innovative service, sales and operations consulting and training group for the Office Imaging industry, specializing in increasing service profitability and enhancing office equipment sales. For information visit http://www.proselitegroup.com

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