Sales Training-A New Model for a New Future4 Feb, 2011 By: Teri Dunn, Print Management Solutions Group imageSource
Sales Training-A New Model for a New Future
An adaptation from a conversation between Alice in Wonderland and the
Cheshire Cat: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you
If we hope to adopt a new model for our new future it is imperative to
recognize some “tipping points” in our industry and the tendency for history to
- In the 1970’s, first time copier acquisitions were made by the owner,
president or C-Suite with productivity and profits the point of focus
- In the 1980’s when identical features, functions and benefits prevailed
along with 2nd and 3rd generation acquisition of copiers, the buying
decision moved down the corporate ladder to purchasing departments with
price the point of focus
- Compatible supplies and alternate channels of distribution spurned new
forms of acquisition to protect the dealer
- Decline in margins
- Birth of the MFP brings a new decision influencer (IT)
- Decline of machines in field
- Decline of pages to copiers/MFP’s
It is safe to assume MPS will evolve the same way. As confirmed by a very
current study by IDC, the current primary influencer in adopting an MPS solution
inside corporations today resides in the C-Suite. We know MPS exists due to the
availability of reliable compatible supplies - and we’ve already seen alternate
channels of distribution.
If we limit MPS to capturing prints and providing service and supplies to
increase our aftermarket revenue and profit, MPS will follow the same sequence
of events as copier acquisitions including 2nd and 3rd rounds of acquisitions
being made by someone lower in the chain of command, namely purchasing agents
and material managers, meaning RFP’s and a focus on price.
Will page volume drop off as with copiers/MFP’s? A resounding YES! And
why? The answer lies in the workforce to come. It’s a generational issue. Can
we really see today’s teenagers and college students tolerating paper? IPads,
Netbooks, Blackberries and Droids - the written word becomes virtual. Follow up
that theory with our nation’s Green Movement: Paper has a major environmental
green impact. Trees, water, energy, transportation and waste are components of
the “paper trail.” Evaluating document requirements to eliminate unnecessary
prints and paper can have a huge impact on the environment. We see history
repeating itself. Surely, marks on paper have already begun a decent.
So, what new model should take us into this new future?
A successful model matches what the customer wants and where the customer is
going as it relates to the products, solutions and services we can offer today
and can become proficient at offering in the future.
What do executives want from today’s salesperson? As it relates to MPS, top
level executives won’t consider seeing the legacy salesperson of the past. You
know the type. While he might not be the station wagon driving, gurney pushing,
demo wheeling flash of the past; he is the fast talking, deal maker who can
“save money today” type who has acquired some basic technology vocabulary.
Executive Howard Stevens, Chairman and CEO of the HR Chally Group, reports
after an exhaustive 14 year study of over 300,000 salespeople in 15 industries,
and the over 80,000 customers they serve, it all boils down to this:
- “Clients want to outsource everything except their core competencies.”
- “They want solutions, not just products and services.”
- “They want substantiated value.”
And the rules for the salesperson they will work with:
- “You must be personally accountable for our desired results.”
- “You must understand our business.”
- “You must design the right applications.”
- “You must be easily accessible.”
- “You must solve our problems.”
- “You must be creative in responding to our needs.”
If we can take what the customer wants and embrace a sales training and
development program that marries these characteristics to a value proposition
for what our customers need that we have…we suddenly have a new model for a much
For the last few years, there’s been much chatter about MPS. To the average
dealer, this has meant snatching the prints on a customer’s current printers and
turning them into aftermarket revenue and profit to make up for the decline of
MFP placements and the prints that have left their base of MFP’s. The sharpest
dealers recognize that MPS is much more than that. If we reach to what the
Photizo Group identifies as the “Three Stage MPS Customer Adoption Model” of:
Stage One: Control, which includes assessment, understanding user
requirements and planning
Stage Two: Optimize and Ongoing Management
Stage Three: Enhance and Business Process Optimization, which includes
process analysis, consulting, workflow analysis and business process improvement
- it becomes clear that we have the products, solutions and services to match
where today’s customer needs to go in the future.
However, while we might have all the components in our sack of offerings, the
vast majority of our sales people are not yet prepared with the current business
acumen to understand how decisions are made in Corporate America today, how to
influence that process, nor how to engage their solutions to match where the
customer is going. What’s needed is a training and development program that can
provide a model, a process, a road map if you will, that the salesperson can
follow to make the transition and evolve into the ideal match for the priorities
of today’s corporations, the characteristics that decision making executives
want in that salesperson, and properly execute the three stages of MPS.
Here’s an example of where our industry took a wrong turn twice because we
focused on what we want rather than where the customer was really going
and the results of those wrong turns:
In the late 1990’s the MFP brought a new influencer to the table; IT, who
didn’t have the time or the appetite for anyone resembling a copier salesperson
who could not speak their language. The overzealous salesperson who did attempt
to embrace technology over committed on what the first MFP’s could do. We saw
entire networks fail as a result. Furthermore, we alienated users by saying
“our MFP’s could replace printers.” We did not recognize that printers were the
place of preference for printing. Thus, adoption of this technology was
Then again, as salespeople slowly adopt the concept of MPS, they begin to
recognize the opportunity for optimization. In their eyes, this means equipment
revenue and commission and “savings” for the customer. To the customer, instead
of hearing “savings,” in a challenging economic time they hear “long term
commitment.” Once again, the big stall. Buying, not moving forward.
Remember, history repeats itself. We must learn from our mistakes. A
missing component? A training and development program that prepares the
salesperson for the transition our customers need to make, matching with the
transition the industry has made. Among the notable training companies to choose
from, dealers need to consider a training and development company that
facilitates a learning process that considers what today’s customer wants from a
salesperson; one who aligns with what the customer sees as their priorities, and
has a direct link to the products, services and solutions offered through a
viable MPS Program.
The New Model for a New Future must include:
- An understanding of where the industry has been and where it is going.
- An understanding of the Complex Buying Team we encounter today.
- A mastering of the skills to accelerate the “Buying Process.”
- The architecting of a Three Stage MPS Solution.
- Executing that solution.
- And finally, progressing with a review and implementation process that
is lock step with the changing customer environment.
Additionally, this new model must include a tool kit and resources to get the
job done regardless of the size of the dealership, the customer or the
The most important investment an office products dealership can make today
starts with the executive leadership embracing a development program that
matches this new model. Meaning: understanding the model then hiring,
training, developing, compensating and managing to this model. The result: a
promising bright new future.
Teri Dunn is a Senior MPS Consultant for Print Management Solutions Group
and Master Facilitator of the nationally recognized sales training program,
Selling Managed Print Services. To get more information, please visit
www.printmanagementsolutionsgroup.com or call 800-403-9379.