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Top 5 Frustrations of MPS Teams - and how to change it for the better

26 May, 2016 By: Sarah Custer

Over the past eight years, working in MPS, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many different types of resellers. I’ve watched many succeed in building a solid book of managed print business. Unfortunately, I’ve watched an even greater number fail, either in the ability to get started, or in terms of the profitability of their engagements.

Recently, my little sister got married. As the “Matron of Honor,” I needed to prepare a speech to toast the new couple at their reception. She and I are extremely close, so I spent a lot of time thinking about marriage and what sound advice I could give to this new couple as they started their journey together. 

Aside from a few very sentimental sister moments, the main theme of my speech ended up being pretty practical. Marriage takes hard work and dedication — every day. You get out of it what you put in to it. Thus it’s no wonder that when I sat down to list the top frustrations for MPS teams that I often hear from dealers, these similarities (and suggestions) came to mind:

1.     MPS-focused employees don’t feel that they have full support/attention from the highest levels of their organization. It takes a leadership team that has fully embraced MPS as part of the business to be successful. As with any key initiative, it’s important for all employees to understand the vision in order to execute. It’s also extremely important for those employees, who are tasked with growing the MPS offering, to feel that their efforts are worthwhile. They want to be part of projects that are important. If part of the organization is “kind of” doing MPS, it’s like one partner only “kind of” doing marriage. 

2.     A compensation model that doesn’t align well with the sales cycle or intricacies of MPS. When a team is getting started in MPS, it might be necessary to pay some portion of salary or bonus based on the “right” activities taking place or steps of a sales funnel moving forward. A solid compensation model isn’t only important to the MPS sales-related personnel. The right pay structure for operationally-focused employees will help deliver desired results as well. Dedicating the time to put together a pay structure that is achievable and incents the right behaviors will benefit everyone in the long run.

A little self-reflection and planning can go a long way to curb the above frustrations.

3.     It’s extremely difficult to deliver on all of the promises made to a customer at the beginning of an engagement. Delivering on your promises is key to a successful MPS program. It’s imperative to invest in the staff and tools necessary to ensure supplies deliver on time and keep customers’ fleets up and running. If those competencies don’t currently reside in your business or are strained, there are proven infrastructure providers in the market that can assist with the operational heavy lifting. This allows you to focus on your sales efforts and customer relationships. 

4.     The program isn’t as profitable as we had hoped. Profitability issues can fuel the fire on the first frustration mentioned above. If the profitability is not what was expected, executive buy-in and support might be lost. Remember, MPS will have peaks and valleys from month to month so don’t forget it’s about the big picture — for better or worse, in sickness and health. If your valleys are not followed by some peaks, it might be time to seek help from an infrastructure partner who can assist in driving down costs and offer consistency and predictability. 

5.     The MPS program only works for select brands/models. End-user customers don’t know or care about a reseller’s hardware quota or manufacturer partners. They need a solution that works for their unique environment. When partnering, look for a program that is brand agnostic and extremely flexible. The ability to make decisions down to the device level with a front end that provides a consistent experience to your customer will drive MPS success for your organization. 

Building the right team or finding the perfect partner to assist can virtually eliminate the above frustrations.

Like marriage, Managed Print Services can be complicated, but that shouldn’t stop you from jumping in or staying in. From supplies management to break-fix service, there will be some challenges, but the reward for your hard work and commitment will result in a successful, sustainable, and profitable MPS business.

Sarah Custer is Director of Services & Solutions for Supplies Network. She joined the company in 2001, and has held key positions including MPS Solutions Manager leading a team of Solutions Advisors responsible for MPS engagements and ultimately equipment sales and related services. Currently, Sarah leads a team of MPS Solutions Advisors, Equipment Advisors, Contract Coordinators, Fulfillment Analysts and a Technical Operations team focused on break-fix service and software solutions. She additionally provides critical direction and design of program enhancements and vendor integrations. Sarah received a M.B.A. and a B.A. in Management from Webster University. Contacts: sarah.custer@suppliesnetwork.com and www.suppliesnetwork.com

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