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First Things First: MPS Begins with an Assessment

26 Jan, 2012 By: Rob Gilbert, Sr, Industry Consultant  

If you are in the "MPS space", you realize that there are many components that make up what will become a good MPS  program, and that no matter what pieces you put together to drive the process, MPS must first be centered around a good Document Workflow Assessment process. A properly conducted analysis will arm you with all of the information you need to:

 •Set yourself apart from your competition
 •Understand the unique objectives and challenges the prospect faces
 •Build a relationship with the prospect based on comprehensive needs
 •Create a complete and thorough solution
While many dealers are now being thrust into the Print Management arena  because competition dictates it, or accounts that they have held for years are in jeopardy of being poached by a hybrid or printer company, the ability to  reconnect with existing accounts by re-assessing (or truly for the first time  assessing) their office landscape will certainly provide the information that  they may currently be lacking as it relates to their ability to fully serve the customer and solve business issues and/or problems that a competitor could capitalize on. 

In addition to the value that an analysis has for the dealer, a Workflow  Analysis does have a greater purpose and some far reaching value, actually benefiting the customer. Once we begin to look at the analysis part of the sales  cycle in this way, we can truly create a positive experience for our customers  and ourselves.  Just because a dealer has “owned” an account for a number of  years, there are usually pieces of the account that MPS can help shore up,  particularly on the printer and outsourcing sides of the house.  A good analysis  process will position you as a true consultant and advocate for your customer,  and open up multiple avenues for revenue generation that will help sustain your business.  Creating a Win-Win with the customer through this process is key.

Elements for creating a Win-Win are:

A complete inventory of all document imaging devices | Many customers do not  have a complete inventory of all of their own equipment. It’s pretty common in the corporate environment for different people to handle different aspects of  document workflow.  One person handles copiers and faxes, another handles  printers and IT, still another purchases supplies.  The days of the CFO giving  the IT Director a blank check has resulted in a fracturing of internal  purchasing practices.  The win--win?  The customer knows exactly what they have  and so does the sales rep.  This builds trust and the rep begins to understand how to effect the proper solution.
A point of view from industry experts | As sales consultants we are the experts on the products and services that we sell.  We have the ability to be emotionally removed from our customers’ businesses and give a thorough, unbiased analysis of the document environment, acting as a third party resource.
Most of our competition will only focus on an equipment sale or lease upgrade so differentiating yourself as a problem solver is a huge competitive advantage.  It can also be perceived as a non-threatening conversation that really is a value-add to the customer.  They now have an advocate for change and a partner in creating the solution. The win-win?  The customer has an ally that helps them fix problems; you have set yourself apart from the competition and may have access to much better information within the account.
Reveal areas where the customer can be more cost effective:

There is no greater value that you can take to your existing customer than the added value  of helping them constantly review and plan for the proper movement and right sizing of their fleet of equipment. In competitive situations, being a consultant and identifying areas of improvement are what will differentiate you.
Very rarely will you enter an account and find it operating optimally in terms of document production and office technology.  Most companies just focus on their own core strength, i.e. healthcare, legal, government, accounting, manufacturing, or whatever service they provide to their own base.  They use copiers, printers and faxes because they know they need to, but don’t really focus on how to do it properly.  This is really the incubus for our ability to make the situation better.

As you become more proficient with performing an analysis in these environments, you will begin to find common sets of issues that take place in different industries.  In essence, customers become our best teachers because we learn from them firsthand, i.e., the issues that they need to improve on and the negative impact that they are already feeling.  The win- win?  The customer has the revelation that they have need for improvement in specific areas of their business, and finding them solidifies your position as a problem solver.

Introduce the customer to new ideas and solutions for their business:

By consulting and positioning yourself in a non-threatening way to your prospects, they will let down their defenses and listen to you on how they can operate efficiently.  This approach helps the customer to see the “big picture” and think outside the box in a way they had not done before.  By doing so, they are  free to open their minds to new and creative ways to be productive, including print migration, scanning technologies, in-house color production, file archiving and storage, etc.  These things can be difficult to propose and sell on their own without a deep knowledge of how the account operates.

I find that engaging the customer in the debate and helping them come to the conclusion on what they need is much more productive and profitable.  The win-win?  The customer is more open to new technologies and ways of getting business done, and it is you that helped to get them there.  Now you are on the short list when it comes to them trusting you for help and ideas.  This level of salesmanship is where you want to be.  It is rarely where your competition is.  By taking the extra time to ask questions, listen, and provide the feeling of trust, you have set yourself apart.  Shouldn’t this result in greater dividends for all parties?
The Workflow Assessment, if performed properly, will become the roadmap by which you guide and win a potential MPS contract with a customer.  It can also be extremely valuable in helping you “really own” the existing customer that has assets not under your control.  Audit assessment, TCO, proposal tools, etc. are all valuable, but without a process for gathering and interpreting the data, your Print Management program will still be left wanting.

Rob Gilbert Sr., industry consultant,  has 23 years experience in the office equipment industry, implementation of CPP  programs from consultation to implementation, and performs sales and management training and consulting including MPS program setup. Contact him at: rgilbertsr@gmail.com

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