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Plan to Focus on Services

20 Dec, 2012 By: Eric Stavola, MSCIS,MCSE,MCSA,N+,CDIA+

I am consistently amazed at the dynamic landscape of the imaging industry today. With so many variables and technologies it leads one to start asking many questions such as “Where is our industry heading?  What do I need to know?  How do I, or my company, adapt?”  There is a saying that learning without change…is not learning.
So what have we learned over the past years about our industry and more importantly, what should we know moving forward? Here’s my thinking:

What Have We Learned?

1. Focus on selling services not hardware
If there is one thing that MPS did for our industry, is made it abundantly clear that we have moved away from selling a commodity to now selling services. As office hardware becomes less and less expensive via competition, and separate from selling supplies, companies have learned to sell their knowledge and services to grow and stay prosperous.

2. Sales reps have new factors/talking points
For the longest time sales really came down to three critical factors:

  • Speed – It was about speeds & feeds of the unit; “I need that brochure”
  • Cost – Are you selling value or the price tag?
  • Reliability – Why else would you print those analysts research reports?

In today’s market, when selling services, our potential customers keep those factors in mind, however, they are looking for new factors as well:

  • Mobility – Hand held devices and the tablets have made this a necessary talking point
  • Accessibility – As we become more mobile, we want the flexibility and access to our documents anywhere on any device
  • Unity – As technology continues to develop at record speeds, more companies need a solution to unify multiple data sources and workflows
  • Security – Always a good talking point with IT; and as IT becomes more comfortable with the “bring your own device/BYOD” concept, they will want ideas and support for increased security.

3. It’s still about relationships
I don’t care if you’re selling a copier, MPS, Document Management, It Services, printers or fax, it’s still about the relationship. I work with so many Sales Reps and Managers that get overwhelmed with all the technology they think they need to learn to adapt in this business, while it is important to have a good baseline understanding, one should never forget that our business, new and old, is and always will be a relational sale!

What Do I Need to Know Now?
1. It’s all about team work
The companies I see thriving in today’s marketplace are the ones who have created a team selling environment.  These companies have invested in critical support personal who understand the technical talk track to engage and establish IT needs and paired them with the Account Manager who has mastered the relational sale.

2. Push for an assessment not just an appointment
One key aspect in selling services is that from the onset we should teach our / your reps to push for an assessment not just an appointment. Appointments are great, however, will go nowhere after the first one if it’s not moved towards an assessment. By pushing for an assessment it will allow for you and your team to gain a complete understanding of your potential customers workflow, business systems, and business environments to allow for more opportunities of services and support that you can offer.

3. Have a plan
Regardless of what you or your company chooses to focus on, have a plan. It amazes me, the number of individuals or companies I come in contact with, that seem to “cruise” through their day to day with no set plan of action, reacting to events, not planning for them. If you want to go somewhere, get directions, have a plan, and stay the course. Our changing business environment is not the problem; it’s an opportunity to those companies that are prepared to deal with needed change to remain viable.

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