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Repositioning for Solutions Success

9 Jul, 2004 By: Darrell Amy imageSource

Repositioning for Solutions Success

Hopefully by now you have altered your attitude about the possibility of
providing software solutions to your clients (Change Your Mindset, June issue).
Your next move is to position your copier dealership as a legitimate software
provider. This takes a combination of planning, modifying sales and service and

something that Tom Tegeder, president of James Office Equipment in Brookfield,
Wisconsin, has become well aware of. Recognizing the new direction the
copier/printer industry is moving toward, Tegeder began repositioning his
28-year-old business for document solutions sales about a year ago. The
foundation in restructuring his business for software sales, he has discovered,
is strategic planning.

think you need to do strategic planning,” explained Tegeder, whose company makes
approximately $5 million in sales annually. “You need to spend time thinking
about where you are going to be in the next five years. You need to consider
what all of the new technologies are going to mean to how your clients do

Chrysler is an excellent example of a company that repositioned itself to not
only increase its profits, but improve the every day life of its customers. When
the automobile manufacturer was creating the minivan, it was trying to get the
maximum amount of utility from a vehicle that would fit inside a regular garage.
By thinking about its core business just a little bit differently, Chrysler
repositioned the automobile to create a value added transportation solution that
earned more profits and revolutionized an industry.

office equipment business is not much different,” Tegeder observed. “What we are
now pondering is: how can we maximize the value we add to our clients when it
comes to their documents? Are there things that we could do inside the “space”
that we have traditionally occupied that could add more value and create more
sales and profit opportunities?”

  1. To
    effectively reposition your dealership, it takes a great deal of planning. A
    dealership needs to be tactical and deliberate as it begins to reposition
    itself as a solutions provider. Some suggestions to map out your new software
    solutions course are:

  2. Strongly consider bringing in an outside facilitator.

  3. Take some time to get out of the office with your key managers to discuss
    where you think the industry is heading.

  4. Craft a vision for how you would like your dealership to be positioned in
    order to be successful in the future.

  5. Create specific strategies to communicate your new message to your

  6. Finally, make a commitment to take action.

and Service: Adding Some Expertise

Once you have made the commitment to provide software solutions, your sales and
service staffs will have to go through an education process. Before that begins,
however, remember something, repositioning your dealership for solutions success
does not mean you have to completely dismantle the business model that made it
successful. Typically, dealerships focus on providing outstanding, responsive,
caring, personalized service to its clients. Certainly, that is how you view
your own business and you undoubtedly intend to continue to offer top notch

see our business changing in the next five years. In order to be successful, we
need to build on our strengths,” Tegeder said. “When I reflect on what our core
strength is, I think quality service comes to mind. If you ask our clients, they
say we have a great service department.”

Document solutions are just a logical extension of that. Solid service will
remain the backbone of your business; solutions just take it to a new level. Now
you can help enhance your clients’ profitability by analyzing and improving the
flow of information through their key business processes.

order to deliver on promises of profitability and reliable service in the
software solutions sector, a document solutions specialist for sales and a
solutions implementation specialist for service support will virtually be a
necessary addition to your company. These positions bring credibility to the
sales, implementation and support processes.

true value add to the client is in the professional analysis and integration
services we provide,” Tegeder said. “We have to do more than just sell software.
A total solution involves our professional expertise.”

addition of specialists will also ease the minds of potential customers as they
begin to rely on your dealership for all their solution needs.

document solutions specialist] is in charge of conducting print analysis and
workflow analysis in our clients’ offices. He also assists the salespeople in
talking about solutions and performing in house demonstrations,” he said. “This
enhances the credibility of our company. We expect this to help us sell more
software and hardware.”

Although Tegeder promoted an employee from within his company for the position,
he said that during the hiring process he discovered that there were more than
enough willing IT specialists out there to fill the document solutions
specialist position.

“Right now IT people are cheap and more readily available,” he said. “There are
a lot of people looking for that work.”

document solutions specialist can also be a member of a separate sales team that
only sells solutions. In many cases, the specialist works alongside the existing
sales team to analyze, demonstrate, propose and manage the implementation of
solutions’ projects. This frees the salespeople to continue moving equipment
while adding the reliability and skills they need to sell solutions.

the implementation and support side, solutions implementation specialists ensure
the smooth integration of the solution.

is critical that we provide a professional implementation to our solutions
clients,” insisted Tegeder.

solutions implementation specialist is trained on the technical aspects of the
software solutions. Their responsibility is to ensure the smooth installation of
the solution. A professional implementation reassures the client that they have
invested their money wisely. It also positions your dealership to grow
additional solutions and hardware business inside the account and to get
valuable referrals.

Marketing: Making an Impression

Now that you have added the know-how to your sales and service teams, marketing
your business as a valid option to supply clients with their software needs is
essential. And first impressions are everything.

Today, every dealer has more than one office: the actual physical facility and
the Internet. The impression clients get when they visit your dealership or
website can make or break you. Just ask Tegeder.

think about marketing a lot differently than we did a few years ago,” he said.
“Professional image is critical both in your dealership and online. The
impression your client gets when they visit your real office or your virtual
office on the Internet can make or break a deal”

likely, only a small percentage of your clients have ever been or will ever
visit your dealership. However, during the sales cycle, a majority of them will
visit your website to learn more about your company. You can be assured of that.
A 1999 Netsmart Research study showed that 64 percent of buyers visit the
Internet for information before making a big-ticket purchase. If that was true
in 1999, imagine how many more potential buyers visit your dealership’s site

It is
important that your website be aligned with your new message. It is scary to
think of precious solutions deals that may have been lost or put on hold based
on the quality and content of your website. The good news is that a website that
supports your new solutions message can be a tremendous asset in positioning
your dealership as a credible source of document solutions.

the same time, your physical office also plays a big role in positioning
yourself for success.

“Although you can’t bring every client to your dealership, it needs to show that
your dealership is positioned to sell and support the solutions business,”
Tegeder said. “There needs to be a high tech feel. You need to demonstrate that
you are not just loading copiers in and out of a warehouse.”

if your prospective client is only looking for a piece of equipment, most have
solutions in the back of their mind as a future purchase. They want to feel
comfortable that your dealership can professionally handle a document solutions
implementation for them in the future.

make sure you eat your own cooking. That means actually using the solutions that
you sell. To reposition your dealership for solutions success you must become
serious about implementing document solutions to run your own business.

“Prospective solutions clients need to be able to come in and see that we are
actually using the technology we are talking about and that it is making our
dealership run more efficiently,” Tegeder said.

your dealership begins to use solutions technology, credibility with the
potential clients increases significantly. After all, if you are not willing to
make the investment to use the document solutions, why should your clients?

addition, your newly trained salespeople will be spreading the word on the
street. Instead of talking about speeds and feeds, salespeople are talking about
the business benefits of document solutions. A good way for your salespeople to
bring up the topic of document solutions is through scanning.

“Scanning is huge,” Tegeder said. “If we don’t bring it up on every appointment,
we are not doing our jobs. Via the copier, it is such an advantage for our
clients to be able to digitize their documents. The questions are how can we
communicate more effectively and bridge paper and digital documents. The answer
now is scanning.”

Scanning opens the door to talk about all kinds of document solutions. Solutions
can be used on the front end or on the back end of a sale.

old salts are still selling the box,” Tegeder pointed out. “Afterwards they go
in and talk about everything it will do. The younger generation of salespeople
that grew up on the Internet are more apt to lead the sale with document
solutions. Really it depends on who you are talking to. Some clients are
reluctant to talk about technology while others can’t hear enough.”

James Office Equipment is taking action to get all their potential and current
clients interested in software solutions by educating them at its annual
technology show.

strategic planning has led us to consider new ways to reposition ourselves in
the marketplace. In addition to our physical facilities and our website, we are
repositioning our annual technology show,” Tegeder said. “Our technology show
evolves every year. New people come every year and they understand what we are
doing. Over the long term, it does pay off. People that came three years ago are
calling and they are looking to us for more than just equipment.

we first did the shows, we profiled color technology,” he added. “Now we are
talking about electronic filing and retrieval and other types of document
software applications. Our clients are more interested than ever in how this
technology can help them handle their growing paper and digital information

more the clients learn from your dealership, the better chance you have of
positioning yourself as not just a reseller, but a trusted advisor as well.

the next issue, I’ll explore the emerging role of the document solutions
specialist. You will hear several solutions specialists discuss their roles,
training requirements and vision for the future of the business.

- - -

Darrell Amy is the President of Dealer Marketing
Systems. His organization helps dealers reposition themselves in the market as
solutions providers through integrated solutions marketing and sales training
services. You can learn more at

or reach him at
or 501-626-4110.

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