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Smart MPS Sales Management Leadership

6 Oct, 2009 By: Kim D. Ward & Tom Cooke imageSource

Smart MPS Sales Management Leadership

If you’re like
many managers today, managing salespeople who are engaging a new or developing
Print Management selling approach, then it’s probably easy for you to understand
what I heard from a sales manager in one of our recent Sales Management
Leadership in the 21st Century programs: “This sure ain’t the old copier
business anymore, is it?”

Change is
inevitable, winning is an option 

He was
right. Things have changed. We think for the better! At Print Management
Solutions Group (PMSG), we’re convinced that selling managed print services is
better for the dealer and the customer. The dealer gets to retain more market
share and more profitable, continuous reoccurring business while the customer
gets the strategic business support they’ve always wanted to maintain an
effective imaging environment. And yet, the frustrations that managers like the
one mentioned are expressing, are very real. Everyone seems to agree that in
order to create and sustain an effective print management business model, it
requires a higher level of initial selling engagement, multi-influencer decision
coordination, a more consultative selling approach, more “hands on” employee and
deal management and coaching. So what is an effective, professional sales
manager to do?

Don’t throw
the baby out with the bath water

the good news. Even though the print management marketplace approach is
relatively new and the proven process for selling the MPS solution is definitely
new, effectively managing the people and process of your MPS business model can
be simplified by utilizing tried and true sales manager strategies and

1 | Process

For the
best short and long-term success of any print management selling approach you
need a defined, completely understood and consistently followed selling process.
As a sales manager the most important first questions you should ask yourself

What process do we use for selling Managed Print Services?

B.        How are we monitoring, measuring and coaching the process?

C.        How can our “real time” experiences help us improve the

2 | Activity

managing selling professionals who are selling managed print services there
aren’t years of historical data to use as activity management benchmarks. And
yet, the old concept of motivating, measuring, analyzing and coaching to
generate effective activity is still a good one. The challenge for many managers
today is, “With no historical activity information to use as a comparable
reference, which and how many activities should I reasonably expect from my
salespeople?” Based on collected best practices from successful dealers in the
print management business, realistic expectations for activity generation and
development should begin with this proven formula for print management success:

20 voice to voice contacts with the C-level decision maker should generate…

B.        7 appointments with C-level decision makers which should

C.        4 “quick view” print environment evaluations which should
ultimately generate…

D.        2 closed print management contracts

By utilizing
this print management best practice activity generation formula, managers can
begin to measure, quantify and identify areas of both developmental opportunity
and success reinforcement which are critical to a selling professional’s ongoing
improvement when selling managed print services.  We would recommend that sales
managers connect with every employee daily to review their daily activity plan.
Make sure that the planned activities for each employee will best complement and
achieve the productivity goals created by the employee and company. Also use
this meeting to identify areas of possible improvement or reinforcement and
develop an individual selling improvement plan for the sales person.

3 | Account

Unfortunately, the historical understanding for account management appears to be
two questions asked by sales managers, “What do you have in your pipeline? And,
where are we in your “forecasted” accounts?” Even more unfortunate is the common
accepted salesperson response of, “I feel really good about it!” In order to
help salespeople learn and utilize effective account management strategy as well
as develop into a selling professional who can manage and win account
opportunities of ever increasing size, each manager should review with every
sales employee (minimum twice monthly) their top 10 actively pursued accounts.

Velocity”       Opportunity Management

Sales managers
should expect sales people to come to this “account review” prepared to answer
all of the questions the manager may have about the current dynamics, decision
makers, influencers, critical and compelling decision criteria, challenges in
the account and any go-forward commitments made by either the selling or client
companies. This expected preparation by the salesperson should provide the
manager with all of the information needed to understand exactly where the
salesperson and the customer are in each of their respective selling and
decision steps. Strategizing with employees on each account will not only
improve accountability but also improve their ability to close.

Some of the most useful and relevant questions being asked by successful
managers in these print management account review meetings are:

A. Where is the client decision team in their decision process?

B. Where are you in your selling procedure?

C. What are the critical and compelling decision criteria you’ve
uncovered so far?

D. What are the client’s company goals and how can we help them
accomplish them?

E. How many “sponsors” have you created in the account and how do you

F. What successes do we hope to help the client company achieve by
utilizing developed and suggested print management solutions?

G. What is the prospect’s compelling reason to      move forward with our

5|Managing and Motivating Optimum Selling Success

After almost 2
decades of managing, training and coaching sales managers, we’ve uncovered what
we believe is the most realistically true statement about managing employees in
the workplace:

“It worked so well we quit doing it!”

When rolling out, reinforcing or continually improving any process, especially a
process so critically important to the future of your company as selling managed
print services, it is imperative that we identify and consistently utilize the
employee development strategies from which great managers continue to receive
tremendous value and benefit.

A. Daily Brainstorming sessions and role-play

Managers should designate “role-play” partners for all employees and ask them to
role-play daily the most difficult question, objection or situation they
encountered on the previous day.

Monitoring this will help managers uncover coaching opportunities and process
improvement for employees.

B. Posting questions, objections and improvement suggestions.

Each manager
should have a designated “posting board” where customer questions, objections
and process and/or selling improvement suggestions can be posted daily and
reviewed, at minimum, once a week in team meetings. Open discussion of possible
solutions, role-plays and improvement discussions will be helpful in proactively
preparing salespeople for the re-occurring issues they face as well as leverage
improvement opportunity discoveries into greater and more pronounced selling

C. Showcasing
& celebrating success.

Sales managers
need to keep a vigilant eye out for those salespeople who do the right things,
for the right reasons at the right time and then tell the story of the
salesperson’s efforts and successes. Let’s celebrate these successes. Don’t lose
sight of the fact that salespeople are being asked to work differently when
selling managed print services than they were expected to work in the past
selling boxes. If a manager wants the “whole” sales team on board and wants them
productively and happily producing results based on consultative solution driven
selling, then we can’t afford to overlook any opportunity to reinforce all
examples of a salesperson doing what they’ve been asked to do and doing it well.

The most
successful print management selling organizations have realized that in order to
generate the highest possible level of positive results, it takes a committed
cultural shift from the old “box-centric” mindset and work habits to a more 21st
Century solution focused MPS model. This new culture is perpetuated by the
stories we tell. Make sure to identify great success storytelling opportunities
and reinforce good selling behavior by telling the story as often and as
energetically as possible. If you do, others will want those stories told about
them and go out of their way to duplicate these important and useful print
management selling behaviors.


Test Competencies For MPS Sales Candidates

Intentionally hiring or refocusing employees with the best opportunity for
print management selling success should include considering how closely the
candidate aligns with the Print Management Consultant Sales Competency
Predictive Profile. In addition to the attitude, skills and knowledge you would
expect in a successful sales rep, specific competencies will predict success or
failure for an MPS sales professional.

Sales Competency Predictive Profile:

• Develops and uncovers sales leads

• Qualifies MPS opportunities at senior management level

• Persuasive presentation skills

• Commits time and effort to ensure success

• Maximizes results by partnering as a customer advocate

• Adapts approach to different buyer motivations

There are also
some specific selling behaviors and activities which can be assessed utilizing
proven behavioral interviewing techniques. Verifying the sales person’s ability
to produce these observable and measurable activities will also help you to
select the right sales professionals for the MPS selling role.

Observable &
Measurable Activities:

•  Promotes customer retention     by soliciting feedback

•  Increases business through continuous customer contact

•  Develops product knowledge    to become a credible client resource

•  Effectively manages a Complex Buying Team

By understanding
which competencies, activities and behaviors produce the most effective and
proven results, you can begin to make more successful decisions when hiring and
developing a print management selling professional.

developed through testing assessment expert HR Chally Group in cooperation with
Tom Cooke at PMSG and Learning Outsource Group.

Kim D. Ward (Director of Training and Development) and
Tom Cooke (Founding Partner) for Print Management Solutions Group, share the
same responsibilities for Learning Outsource Group based in Ormond Beach,
FL. Contact:  800-403-9379 or


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