to the market research firm, IDC, 48% of copiers sold in 1999 were digital. By
2001, only two years later, that number had grown to 80%. By 2005, the
transition will be complete with almost 100% of all copiers sold being digital.
How have dealers fared during this rapid transition? For some, the process
created major hurdles to overcome. Others, like New England Copy Specialists in
Woburn, MA, identified and adopted strategies that helped them capitalize on the
opportunities created by the transition and come out clear winners. The
difference between struggling and winning seems to be the steps dealers took
when digital copiers and multi-function peripherals (MFP) first appeared.
few weeks ago, imageSource visited New England Copy Specialists (NECS) to try to
define the company’s winning strategies for the digital space. In the past few
years, NECS has nearly doubled its staff and opened new facilities in Westboro,
Canton, and Boston, MA, as well as Manchester, NH. Expansion into Rhode Island
and Maine is planned for the near future. Perhaps more importantly, the company
has been able to resist successive waves of acquisitions and consolidations to
remain the only independent dealer in the area.
According to Charles Tiernan, NECS founder and president, today’s success
started with a decision he made when he first saw the Canon GP55 back in the
mid-90s. He quickly recognized digital’s potential impact and the opportunity
it would create. So he immediately sent two of his staff to get their Certified
Netware Engineer (CNE) certification.
networks predominated the market at the time,” said Tiernan. “I knew that
digital meant connectivity. I wanted NECS to be able to provide the best in
support right from the start for our customers who chose digital.”
also said it was important to send existing staff for training, rather than
recruit CNEs from high tech companies. He wanted a support staff that understood
both the copier industry and digital technology. By training two of his current
support specialists, that’s exactly what he got. But Tiernan didn’t stop
there. He also instituted a formal internal sales training program and made a
primer on technology one of its integral parts.
The investment began paying
off very quickly. As digital grew in popularity, NECS sales representatives were
being directed more and more to MIS personnel who often had the last say about
anything and everything that connected to their networks … including MFPs.
This required a totally new selling model -- one that NECS had anticipated. NECS
had implemented a team selling approach that made it easy for sales reps to
bring in network specialists to speak directly to MIS whenever and wherever
needed. This was essential for two reasons.
the past, you could make the sale by saying your were $5000 cheaper,” said
Vince McHugh, head of NECS System Support. “But MIS doesn’t care about cost
per copy. They’ll usually take efficiency and reliability over cost savings.
By using a team trained in a solution selling model and knowledgeable about the
workings of an IT environment, that’s exactly what we were able to
also quickly saw that MIS was very hesitant to bring anything new into the
environment, because “new” usually meant more work for a staff that was
already stretched thin. Tech specialists on the NECS team were usually able to
show that they were fully capable of implementing and supporting MFP technology
on any network without requiring MIS involvement and without causing problems or
adding to complexity.
could almost hear the sigh of relief when the customer understood what we knew
and what we could do,” said McHugh. “Often, right after that sigh was when
we would get the sale.”
Responses To Rapid Change
One factor that did catch Tiernan a bit by surprise was the speed at which
technology evolved. In a very short span of time, for example, Microsoft
networks quickly surpassed Novell NetWare in popularity. Various flavors of UNIX
often gave way to Microsoft NT as the operating system of choice. Now, Linux, an
open version of UNIX, is making in-roads into NT and XP. But he never hesitated
in his commitment to maintaining the highest levels of expertise. NECS System
Support is staffed by specialists with CNE, MCSE, MCP, and Macintosh
certifications. And they have extensive training in a full range of platforms
and their operating systems – from IBM AS400 to Dell Servers to DIGITAL VAX.
goal is to handle any connectivity challenge, while also delivering the solution
that will best meet each customer’s business needs,” said McHugh.
has also kept pace with the growing number of applications that can add
significant value to digital copiers and provide customers with a total document
management solution. These range from actual document management applications
like iManage and Domino.Doc to fax programs like Captaris RightFax to programs
that link everything together, like the eCopy suite of products.
is a real eye-opener for many of our clients,” said Tiernan. “It transforms
Canon imageRUNNER copiers into solutions that dramatically streamline the flow
of paper in an organization. Using the eCopy ScanStation touch screen and eCopy
ShareScan software, any user can quickly and easily scan documents and send them
via the company’s network, fax, or e-mail to any destination. Users can also
perform a full range of editing functions on scanned documents with eCopy
Desktop. eCopy’s seamless integration with Microsoft Exchange, the most
popular document management systems, and other enterprise applications helps
companies achieve maximum results with minimum complexity.”
to Tiernan, the great thing about the eCopy Suite is its ability to leverage a
company’s existing investment in technology. It also delivers impressive
savings on long distance, courier, and mail charges by making e-mail the
document distribution method of choice.
Selling Is Essential
The rapid development of new productivity tools has required a constant
refinement of sales techniques. Now, NECS uses a detailed qualification process
that seeks to define each prospect’s specific business needs, not just the
copier needs. NECS reps are then trained to match the need with a complete
solution of hardware, software, and support rather than simply a copier.
the prospect signs on to the solution, NECS support specialists conduct a
comprehensive digital site survey to ensure the fastest, most effective
installation and implementation.
heard a lot of dealers complain about the longer sales cycle required for a
solution sell,” said Tiernan. “But we feel it’s well worth it, especially
once an organization has the process well-defined like we do.”
Importance Of Being A Trusted Advisor
Tiernan, can prove that the average solution sell brings in up to ten times more
in terms of revenue than a simple copier sale. And the benefits extend far
beyond the actual sale.
you can consistently deliver support and solutions that help your customers meet
tough business challenges, you are no longer simply an equipment vendor,” said
McHugh. “You have become a trusted advisor … someone that the customer
really wants to marry. This typically opens up many more opportunities for sales
down the road.”
an installed solution of hardware and software becomes part of the customer’s
business model,” added Tiernan. “So it can’t be simply unplugged and
replaced like a copier. Chances are, the customer will continue to work with you
to upgrade and refine a solution that has proven its ability to deliver results.
That means account retention and return on selling investment go way up.”
NECS, Every Day Is Independence Day
Tiernan remembers that other dealers were much more hesitant to commit staff and
dollars to digital and solution selling strategies a few years back. Many
thought that contracting with outside vendors to handle installation and support
was the way to go. Others were determined to wait for a clearer sign that
digital was the wave of the future. These are the dealers who have missed out on
an entire wave of opportunity because they did not have enough trained people to
deal with the new digital reality … both in terms of technology and selling
strategies. Many times, they’re the dealers who are no longer in business or
who have been bought out by the big guys … leaving NECS as a great example of
what a smart, forward-thinking, committed, and fiercely- independent dealer can
do in a world gone digital.
Commitment Make The Difference
than a year ago, a major national environmental firm needed to streamline
its document management process. The company dealt with an extremely high
volume of multi-page proposals, impact statements, regulatory compliance
forms/statements, and other paper documents that had to be distributed to
meet tight deadlines and efficiently stored for fast retrieval.
paper-based process the company had been using was both inefficient and
costly. Documents were copied and then faxed or sent by overnight delivery
services to multiple customer, government, and company locations. If
changes were made, the same document had to be returned to the company
where the revised versions were copied and re-distributed. Typically,
multiple versions of documents needed to be stored and made available as
needed for reference and to respond to customer or government agency
requests. This could simply not be done efficiently and economically with
company’s first step in creating a better process had been to evaluate
document management systems. As a result of the evaluation, the company
had selected PC DOCS. The next step was to find a scanning solution that
could transform paper documents into electronic ones that could be
integrated into PC DOCS.
company contacted its current copier supplier who could provide an
excellent MFP, but could not offer immediate integration with PC DOCS.
That would require a certain level of customization, which the vendor
agreed to do for $350 per hour.
just a bit, the customer decided to follow a recommendation it had
received to contact NECS. In no time, Vince McHugh and his team were
working with the customer to write a driver that would seamlessly bring
scanned documents from Canon imageRUNNERs using the eCopy Suite into PC
cost to the customer = $0.
win for NECS= 60 machines, plus eCopy Software, plus a very satisfied and
impressed new customer.
the customer scans all documents into PC DOCS. They can then be retrieved
and faxed or e-mailed right from employee desktops using eCopy software.
Revisions, mark-ups, etc., can also be done electronically using either PC
DOCS or the eCopy Desktop application. Costs for overnight delivery
services, storage space, and staff time associated with copying and
eCopying documents are way down. Efficiency is way up.
a great example of how NECS’ willingness to go the extra mile puts them
way ahead in competitive situations and keeps them in the lead in the
markets they serve.