Three Keys to Breaking the "IT Barrier"20 Dec, 2005 By: Eric Stavola, Witt Company imageSource
Three Keys to Breaking the "IT Barrier"
the digital age continues to overrun the everyday workplace, the demand for
networked, multifunctional machines has increased tremendously. This clamor for
product has also sparked a greater need for specialized sales skills and
support. This is where many of us have run directly into the “IT barrier.”
Today, multi-unit deals can hinge on those meetings with your customer’s IT
(Information Technology) personnel. Typically, however, “Mr. Geek Squad” fires
off those dreaded words, “Sorry, but we only allow HP products to be connected
to our network.” With that—poof—your deal has disintegrated.
In order to effectively prospect, sell and converse with IT, you should remember
three key steps:
Step 1: Establish Credibility
If you are going to connect your product to the network and your MFP’s name is
not HP, I don’t care who you represent—Xerox, Canon or Ricoh—you are likely an
unknown to IT. They only know what HP has taught them about printing. I have a
master’s degree in computer science and numerous certifications, but never once
have I had a printer class.
Manufacturers commonly try 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, offering a universal print driver can 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. With IT, things need to be kept at their level
initially until credibility is established. Here are some key points to
• Stress the ability to configure your devices. If IT knows how to configure
your device, they know how to fix your device. They then become comfortable with
• As a rule of thumb, use the word utility instead of software. Software needs
to be loaded, trained on, and may cause network issues in an IT’s mind. Software
means work, while the word utility means help. Just a simple, but effective play
• Stress ease of integration! Keep things simple, the same, and similar.
Step 2: Provide Added Benefits and Utilities
When discussing the added benefits and utilities, remember to emphasize on
taking work away from the IT. For example, most products send an email when
toner and paper have run out. This is a great benefit. However, most sales
personnel do not effectively use this tool correctly.
For instance: “Mr. Geek Squad, our MFPs can email you when they’re out of toner,
paper, or even have a jam.” Did you take work away from IT or add to their
A better way to communicate this is: “Mr. Geek Squad, you do not need to be
bothered with simple printing nuances such as low toner or no paper. I can set
up our MFP to email the office manager when this occurs so you will not be
Now you are taking work away and are using the utilities to provide added
Step 3: Support
In the IT world knowledge is king. You cannot put a price on support in the
connectivity field. You are not demonstrating just the box any longer. With the
box basically a commodity, the typical customer now wants knowledge from its
IT wants to talk to someone on his or her level and have the confidence that if
anything goes wrong your company has the personnel to fix it. The days of
waiting for manufacturer support are nearly over. Dealerships need to look into
bringing their solutions support internal.
With the rising connectivity rate of products and the demand for intensive
workflow solutions, it is clear where our industry in headed—straight to the
IT’s office door.
Eric Stavola is an area sales manager for Kyocera Mita America. He has also
been a network solutions manager for Kyocera and the network service director
for a dealership. To contact Eric, call 619.823.5395 or email him at