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Blur the Lines for Business, Graphic Art & Production Color Sales

7 Dec, 2010 By: Greg Buschman, Verde Document Solution imageSource

Blur the Lines for Business, Graphic Art & Production Color Sales

The color market is growing and that is great news. Finding a hardware segment in our industry that is still making headway is tough these days. The color market, however, is changing into a hybrid sales model. Although color product placements have increased, pages printed on these devices has decreased (InfoTrends, 2010). With shrinking hardware margins, page volume and service margins have become increasingly important. The dilemma facing many dealers today is, “How can a dealership maximize profits by increasing their MIF and driving more pages to these devices?”

Traditionally, color hardware was divided into three distinct categories: business, graphic arts, and production. In recent years, however, the traditional color sales market has been changing from two directions:  (1) copier manufacturers that have never offered high quality color devices have entered the market, and (2) printer manufacturers have introduced A3 and A4 printer-based color MFPs and AIOs.

The quality, speed, paper handling and finishing features of “business” color devices are rivaling those of production equipment. This has caused the lines between the traditional sales segments to blur. This blurring of the lines is forcing dealerships to change the way they approach the color market.

Past business color was slow, low quality, yet affordable. Only expensive graphic art and production color systems offered high quality, extensive paper stocks and a variety of finishing options. Because business color was “low tech - low quality” it was assigned to general line sales reps. The “high tech - high quality” graphic art and production systems were assigned to well-trained color specialists.

Of course we all know that today’s selling requirements have changed. Monochrome devices use complex technology. Now add in the complexity of color and traditional graphic art and production print jobs being run in the general business office, and the gravity of selling in today’s color market takes real shape. In today’s selling environment, keeping margins up by selling business color truly requires a “high tech - high quality” talk track.

What’s Growing
Prospects can clients in the SMB market are asking for more graphic art and production capabilities from their business color devices. They are ready to bring quality color-document production into their workgroups and general offices today. When surveyed 72.6% of respondents said their next MFP purchase will be color. In addition:

  • A4 devices are growing at a 13% CAGR and A3 at 7.4%, while monochrome placements decrease by -2.3 % CAGR.

  • The forecasted prime spot for 2008-2013 is business color MFP’s between 20-40 ppm in the SMB market.

  • Ten of the top 15 important buying criteria are features related to color, high tech, or finishing.

  • 32% of monthly volume is full graphic printing.

  • The top five color print jobs ranked in order are: presentations, photos, marketing materials, training documentation, and web page print outs.

  • Solutions and applications are driving the color market.

8 Suggestions for approaching the Color Market

  1. Create new talk tracks and marketing materials based on today’s business process management needs. Discuss how new features integrate into the way each client does business. Focus on high tech features such as scan to e-mail in color, network faxing, and scanning to network software such as MS Share Point.

  2. When discussing costs-per-page be sure that the customer understands the difference between inkjet printers and copier based printers, and the true cost of ownership.

  3. The sweet spot for the SMB market is 20-40 ppm. Have a frank discussion with prospects regarding job throughput, demonstrate how the speed of a printing system is dependent upon the print controller and not the engine.

  4. Focus on solutions that create reasons to print in house, and make the MFP the information hub of the office. Make sure that applications such as MS Mail Merge, Fiery FreeForm 2, Printshop Mail, PaperPort and others are included in every discussion. These are the basics of office printing.

  5. Talk about document scanning and distribution for products such as e-Copy and SendMe as opposed to electronic document management.

  6. Overcome your prospect’s fear of color printing being too expensive or getting out of control by integrating MPS talk tracks with your color sales. Automated meter reads and behavior modification software such as ROI Print manager, FMAudit, and Print Audit are excellent ways to show prospects how to manage their output.

  7. Capitalize on corporate cost reduction. Look for opportunities to replace graphic art and production copiers/printers. Visit the company’s CRD/in-plant copy shop; print managers are looking for alternatives to traditional production gear. They are also looking for ways to automate print jobs. Today’s high quality business machines coupled with the right solutions provide affordable alternatives.

  8. Refocus the approach to product mix to include selling color devices and solutions in the SMB market. Sales reps often sell the wrong devices making it difficult to keep service margins in an acceptable 32-36% range.

6 Pitfalls to Avoid

  1. Relying on manufacturer reps to train sales people can be a mistake. With a few exceptions, a manufacturer’s rep has little, if any, real graphic art and production color experience.

  2. Hiring application specialists to be sales reps is wrong. These specialists are not sales people. They talk tech that general office prospects & sales reps do not understand.

  3. Using managed print service contracts to hide costs, bury lease buyouts, and make up for lack of color sales skills is short-term thinking.

  4. Avoid failure due to outdated marketing strategies, old talk tracks, dated marketing collaterals, and training material initially developed for selling low-tech equipment.

  5. Relying on internal employees to develop sales training on devices they are not familiar with.

  6. Focusing on solutions that do not drive clicks or integrate into office processes.

Greg Buschman, SVP, Verde Document Solutions, has 10 years experience in leading edge digital document solutions. Buschman, a CompTIA Subject Matter Expert and adjunct instructor at St. Petersburg College, has developed color, print production, professional services and solutions programs at IKON, Danka, and Konica Minolta.

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