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Un-Managed Print Services?

28 Mar, 2012 By: George Gallian, Compass Sales Solutions

Regardless of your expertise as it relates to securing Managed Print Services (MPS) contracts, the devil is in the details in terms of successful execution over the term of the agreement.  While some people view that “getting” the contract is the hard part, I feel the real sales job is in fulfilling the agreement. 

There are many industry veterans who speak to the MPS sales process, but what happens when the contract is signed?  Now, it’s time to deliver!
Our objective, as an industry, is to keep the word “managed” in managed print services.  Too often, all we are providing is print services.
Sure, dispatching technicians and shipping toner has been our bread and butter for many years.  But the true value proposition, at least from the client’s perspective, has to be the overall management and optimization of their imaging environment.  It begs the question, once you have the contract in place, what are you doing to keep it?  This is a fundamental task required for long term success in this industry.  It can be approached from many viewpoints.

For example, if a sales rep’s commission is “front-loaded” once they get the agreement, what is their incentive to manage the relationship moving forward?  Do we revert to the old copier sales model of leasing a new piece of equipment and then not showing up again until the lease is due to expire? Sales compensation for MPS has been and continues to be a hot topic among dealers.  Just remember, your goal has to be to keep the rep’s head in the game once the contract is signed….unless you want it to be a one and done agreement.  MPS compensation can also be used as a recruiting/retention tool if it has an annuity component to it.

And then there’s the concept of profitably pricing MPS engagements.  This could be an article unto itself.  Again, there are dealers who embrace the tools necessary to analyze and dissect the cost of the fleet they are pursuing (or managing) to insure they account for all aspects of the process. 
The end goal you should have at your dealership is  simple….can a rep identify, quote, and close an MPS deal without going to anyone else in your dealership for help or pricing assistance?  Remember, reps will gravitate to things that they can control.  If they need to go see the service manager, their sales manager, and perhaps an aftermarket person to quote a deal, they will avoid it at all costs. 

Then there is the other side of the equation, which happens more than you’d think. This is where a dealer is pricing their MPS deals because a friend is doing it at .014 and they are “making money.”  Nothing could strip the profitability of a successful dealership faster than bringing on a slew of MPS contracts only to find out after the fact that they are under water.

It’s ironic to note that we all spend hours analyzing and dissecting the client’s infrastructure during the courting phase of the relationship, but what do we do after there is ink on paper (no pun intended)?  How do the concepts of optimization and workflow routing permeate throughout the term of the contract?

In speaking with the dealers who “get it,” I’ve found that they spend more time as a trusted advisor after the deal has been signed implementing and fine tuning the program over the course of the contract.  They bring value in extensive quarterly reviews and frequent discussions with the client. A clients printing and imaging environment is not static.  Employees come and go.  Business drivers change.  Competitive pressures influence user behaviors.  These factors and many more create a dynamic landscape that a successful MPS partner embraces and addresses. 

But it doesn’t start and end with MPS…..your goal needs to be their total Managed Services provider.  Many dealers have embraced this and are building the resources and infrastructure to accommodate this logical progression in our business model.  Their goal is to get the MPS engagement, deliver a successful program, and elevate their position within the account by adding Managed Services to the mix. 
Just remember.  It’s good to celebrate the win once the agreement is signed.  But the real selling takes place over the next 36 months if your goal is to remain their trusted advisor. 

Success in MPS requires a commitment from multiple disciplines in a dealership with each one complimenting the other.  Your service has to be exceptional.  Your sales professionals need to be engaged for the term of the agreement.  Your billing and admin team need to provide accurate and simplified billing/reporting to the client.  Do this, and you will effectively keep the “managed” in Managed Print Services!

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