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MPS Selling Success: Finding the X Factor

23 Feb, 2012 By: Kim Ward, Print Management Solutions Group

There is a popular reality television show that requires a panel of experienced entertainment industry celebrities to identify the stardom “X Factor” in contestants, and then coach and develop these qualities for extraordinary success. The premise for the show is “Do you have what it takes to be a star? Do you have that needed X Factor?”

Many of the Managed Print or Managed Document Service providers seem to be using this same approach as they attempt to reach for stardom in the Enterprise MPS business arena. What is this X Factor that so many MPS providers are looking for?

The concept of identifying the X Factor for maximizing success is not new. Just about every manufacturer, consultant or training professional has at one time said they could provide to dealers the “one thing,” the X Factor.  We’ve all been told by someone that they had the “one thing” that will solve all of the MPS provider’s problems and supply them with the advantage needed for improving the business odds for achieving their greatest success.  Unfortunately, this is not always true. 

We all intuitively know that the success X Factor is rarely one talent, a single ability or one process. The X Factor is more commonly a “concert” of well managed and coached business elements. It’s a combination of the right things that causes, creates and ultimately sustains the desired consistent business performance and profitability.

Over the last several years MPS providers have focused on what they felt was needed first. They’ve focused on identifying and implementing effective “processes” for selling and servicing MPS customers. Those dealers that have done well have begun to harvest the rewards of committing to an effective process, managing and coaching to that process and aligning employee compensation and benefits to support the process. Of course what they are now beginning to understand is that the process alone is not the X Factor.

Yes, there is a definite proven correlation between an effective MPS selling procedure and selling success. We’ve trained enough dealers and witnessed enough training charlatans to know that with the right, proven and effective selling process, dealers will sell more MPS. But, to truly leverage the opportunity that exists in the Enterprise MPS arena and to identify the X Factor that so many are still looking for, we must take a step back and look at the bigger and longer term picture.

Experience & Analysis
According to any valid and useful research, the larger and more lucrative MPS provider opportunity is unveiled in the hope of a longer term partnership between the dealer and customer. With that said, let’s take a look at what research and experience suggests is the longer term supplier/customer partnership view. Trusted researchers suggest that there are multiple steps or stages in this partnering relationship as described below:

*Customer Acquisition and Asset Capture
(Assess the customer’s environment, capture assets, and develop a document management strategy)
*Technology Optimization
(Implementing fleet deployment plans and asset optimization and refresh management)
*Environment Enrichment
(Technology / software business process development, efficiency and ‘green’ initiatives)
*Expanding Services and Outsourcing Opportunities
(Combining imaging devices and IT infrastructure to create more synergistic business optimization)

We would agree that this is a productive, longer term view and plan for a mutually profitable and rewarding dealer and customer relationship. But if this is true, then after Customer Acquisition there is an additional need for the flawless execution of the remaining steps in this partnering agenda.  That’s when the true X Factor becomes most critical to achieving success and the real long term opportunity. So, what is the X Factor in achieving longer term supplier & customer partnering success?

Here is something we call the X Factor Partnering Development Model.

“The X Factor that so many are searching for is really a strategy that aligns with objectives & manages people in order to insure flawless execution and performance.”   The X Factor contains three equally important components that must work harmoniously to produce the abilities needed for flawless execution and achievement.

These 3 components are:
1. Employee’s willingness to learn, change and continuously improve
2. Salesperson’s ever improving & effective enterprise consultative selling skills; team selling strategies where applicable
3. Employee’s understanding of existing & future technology applications; organizational impact

The employee’s willingness to learn, change and continuously improve:
After nearly 20 years of offering Sales Management Leadership training to the office technology industry, Print Management Solutions Group can safely say that if a company hopes to achieve any consistent success, then that success must be nurtured by a management leadership process which effectively develops employees.  And, the management leadership process must produce employees who are motivated to change, adapt and improve. Only by striving for consistent improvement is an employee’s “Willingness to Learn and Change” actively engaged. This employee willingness to always learn and improve is what essentially drives the other two X Factor components.
The salesperson’s ever improving & effective Enterprise Consultative Selling Skills & team selling strategies where applicable:

Fortunately for some MPS suppliers, they have already realized the importance and value of continuing education in the area of Advanced Enterprise Consultative Selling Skills. These intuitive dealers continue to train their sales teams and provide the additional concepts, strategies and skills that salespeople will need in order to navigate the more complex selling situations which future customer partnering will require.
If we recognize that customer acquisition and taking control of the imaging environment is only the first step toward the final goal of helping the customer create a more synergistic use of technology; then we must also recognize salespeople’s critical need for advanced selling skills.

Without proven Advanced Enterprise Selling Skills we cannot expect salespeople to perform the required functions of:
*Getting higher and wider in customer organizations
*Navigating and managing complex or enterprise buying teams
*Forging “Trusted Advisor” relationships with key executive decision makers
*Selling and up selling newly developed technology and applications
*Achieving the most productive and profitable outcomes

These are only a few of the reasons why the second X Factor component is equally vital to salesperson and company success. 

The employee’s understanding of existing & future technology applications and organizational impact:
It’s been said many times and many ways but it’s still true today. “If you stop learning, you’re done!” Nothing in our world is standing still. As we can all attest, technology improvement and advancement is at the forefront of our business and personal need to change. If the employee X Factor is going to be created and sustained, then it is imperative that employees be given education and training in the areas of advancing technology and its applications. Our experience says that there are numerous opportune sources for this type of information and education and yet some are still too frequently underutilized.  When implemented and synchronized, these three components give the MPS supplier the best chance of creating and sustaining the needed X Factor.  And it is this X Factor that is needed to drive guaranteed supplier/customer partnering success in the future.

We’ve been privileged to work with, study and analyze thousands of successful executives, managers, employees in the office technology industry. We’ve enjoyed learning from and working with all of them. This exposure provides us with unique opportunities to sometimes identify work behavior, activity and process trends that are commonly overlooked and misunderstood by the companies themselves. Here’s a suggestion we can offer in return and gratitude to the industry which has trusted us for so long. Make sure you give your salespeople and employees the information, knowledge and tools they’ll need to be most successful. For more information on this topic and more, PMSG will be presenting at ITEX 2012.

BIO:  Kim Ward is a Senior Executive with Print Management Solutions Group (PMSG), a division of Learning Outsource Group, a leading provider of corporate training solutions to the office technology industry. Kim is a recognized facilitator & teaches Advanced Consultative Sales Education & Sales Mgmt. Leadership programs throughout No. America.  At 800-403-9379; http://www.printmanagementsolutionsgroup.com

About the Author: Kim Ward

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