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Key Insights When Speaking to IT

4 Oct, 2010 By: Eric Stavola, MCSE, MCSA, N+, CIDA+ imageSource

Key Insights When Speaking to IT

Today, our customers are demanding more of a service-centered approach rather than a typical product-focused one.  In order to answer this call many dealerships, as you know, have made a significant focus on, and investment in, offering Managed Print Services (MPS).

One might argue that “Services” has taken over “Solutions’ as our new buzz word of the industry, or maybe we just have a new definition of Solutions. For this article lets define Solutions as the combination of the People, Service, and Product we offer to potential customers. With that in mind, let me share some helpful insights in MPS Solutions that often get overlooked or undervalued. 

INSIGHT # 1 – Don’t undervalue the impact

When dealing with output devices (especially printers) in any organization, there are two major impacts we will address:

1. Financial 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, often without real credibility with IT services, we are simply fighting an uphill battle. Thus, as a rule to go by, try to remember that the basic 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 this area is approached correctly.

In my experience with dealing with IT personnel, one can categorize them by two key personality traits: 1) Strong Ego or 2) Laid back. With both behavioral traits, you want to engage IT in your MPS deal early in the process.  A great time to do this is during your strategic site visit.

When dealing with IT your companies goals should be:
Establish Credibility:

1. Through 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, you will slowly gain credibility. 

2. Through Honesty: Sales personnel when talking to IT should not “wing it” or answer questions you have 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 not only value IT’s knowledge but you gain credibility throughout the process.

INSIGHT # 3 – Help IT overcome their fears

Okay, so I have a Masters Degree in Computer Science and numerous certifications, which equal more than 15 years of schooling. But never once have I had a printer class.  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.” 

Manufacturers 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: 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. This is why you feel IT is often combative or dismissive with some issues; you just don’t know the “big picture” they deal with. With IT, things need to be kept at their level of experience initially until further credibility is established.

"...use the word “utility” instead of “software” when describing some of your company’s offerings."

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 so are then comfortable with the product. Once they’re comfortable and credibility has been set, then you can     offer your MPS services to them to consider.

  • 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” also; 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, and similar in order to appease IT.  When IT’s happy, it appears everyone in the office is!

Eric Stavola is IT Director, Professional Services for a California-based dealership. He is a former network solutions manager for Kyocera Mita, and consults nationwide. Eric holds a Masters Degree in Information Systems & holds the following certifications: MCSE,MCSA, N+,CDIA+. At 619.379-3009.

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