The IT Tech’s Perspective on Managed Print Services27 Jul, 2012 By: Eric Stavola, MCSE, MCSA, N+, CIDA+
As the evolution or transformation of the office industry continues, one might argue that “Services” has taken over “Solutions’ as our new buzz word, or maybe we need a new definition for Solutions?
Sure, your customers are demanding more of a service centered approach rather than a product focused one, so notably "MNS" - managed network services - is for many providers, yet another significant focus to undertake on some level, and yes, is a real investment as an offering besides Managed Print Services (MPS).
First, for our purpose here, let’s define Solutions as the combination of the People, Service, and Product we offer to potential customers. With that in mind, consider these helpful insights in MPS Solutions that often get over looked or undervalued.
INSIGHT # 1 – Don’t undervalue the impact
When dealing with output devices in any organization (especially printers) there are two major impacts we will address:
1. FINACIAL IMPACT
2. TECHNICAL IMPACT
A lot of time we make the error of trying to address new technology first (replace equipment) instead of simply focusing on the financial savings. Sure we can consolidate, provide higher speed, better TCO printers however, without credibility with IT we are simply fighting an uphill battle. Thus, as a rule try to remember the goal of MPS is to make money, not move more units. With that in mind, address the financial impact first by taking over existing fleets of printers and worry about replacements as you slowly gain credibility with IT.
INSIGHT # 2 – Engage IT early and Often
Dealing with IT personnel can be difficult at times, but it can also be a driving force in your sale if approached correctly.
In my experience with dealing with IT personnel, one can break it down and categorize them into two key personality traits (forgive my analogy but this is what I see): 1) Super Ego vs. 2); Laid back. By knowing that you can approach them differently but keep with the same goal or purpose in mind. Regardless, you’ll want to engage IT in your MPS deals early in the process. A great time to do this is during your Strategic site visit.
When dealing with IT staff your company's goals should be to establish credibility through:
1. Personnel: IT/MIS personnel want to be working with companies and individuals who know their network. By having qualified individuals in the MPS process to engage and answer IT’s questions competently, you will gain credibility with your customers. I am not talking IT geeks here though some are good; but rather the IT professional who knows how to interact with your clients.
2. Honest Communication: When Sales personnel are talking to IT, please don’t wing it or answer questions you have little or no idea about; instead be honest and say "I don’t know but I will get someone in front of you who does." By saying “I don’t know” you create honest communication that IT can respect as many outside of IT don't have specific knowledge and they know this; but appreciate the time saved with being honest; which places more value on the IT Tech's knowledge, and you gain credibility through the process.
INSIGHT # 3 – Help IT Overcome Fears
Well, I have a Master’s Degree in Computer Science and numerous certifications, which equal more than 15 years of schooling, but never once have I had an informative "printer" class. Typically, IT only knows what HP has taught them about printing. So when IT says, “Sorry but we are an HP house only,” what they really mean is, “The only thing I am used to and can configure is HP.” For an IT person to have knowledge in other areas or on other products, they need additional training.
Manufactures make a common mistake when trying to overcome this by throwing other unknowns in the picture such as software and drivers. What they don’t understand is that this is just more fuel for IT to not allow your product on the network.
For example, if a manufacturer offers a universal print driver, which could be a huge advantage. However, if I use it as a lead-in tool it can ruin the whole deal.
IT views this as an item they are unable to fix that will make them look foolish to their supervisors. With IT, things need to be kept at their level initially until credibility is established. Here are some key points to remember when establishing credibility:
• When talking to IT stress the ability to configure your devices, not monitor your devices. If IT knows how to configure your device, they know how to fix your device. If they know how to fix your device, they know how to do their job and are comfortable with the product. Once their comfortable and credibility has been set, then you can offer your MPS services.
• As a rule of thumb, use the word utility instead of software when describing some of your company’s offerings. Software needs to be loaded, trained on, and may cause network issues in an IT’s mind. Software means work to IT people, while the word utility means help. Watch out for the word “Broadcast” that means flooding my network thus use the word sparingly or not at all. Both are simple, but effective play on words.
• Stress ease of integration! Keep things simple, the same, or similar in order to appease IT. Ultimately, all are pleased!
Author: Eric Stavola currently oversees IT management for a California dealership and their clients.