Selling MPS vs. Delivering MPS (Part 2)
Print is core to any managed print services offered and the MPS program presented should center on print and printing practices. Can dealers actually satisfy their customers printing requirements with and MPS offering?
Selling MPS vs. Delivering MPS (Part 1) offered opinion on how to determine MPS deliverables and suggested that standard operation procedures be written down so that surprises can be minimized. In part two, other common MPS characteristics will be identified to help dealers further define their MPS teams.
In our deployment staffing article, ideas were put forward to help dealers choose the software installation team. In some cases, these may be the same people that make up parts or all of the MPS sales team. Let’s continue to remove bad management practices from MPS explore ideas successful dealers have employed to improve their print management programs.
Optimization Improvements to Consider
Printed pages are declining . With the advent of internet enabled smart phones, tables and versatile laptops, paper is not used or needed like it once was. But until such time that the paperless office truly exists, associated printing costs can and should be monitored and controlled.
Because companies are encouraging print reduction, specialists should determine where the print centers are in each customer’s place of business. Once this critical step is accomplished, efficiencies can be discussed. Often this is when equipment inventories come into play. Fewer printers simply cost less to operate.
But removing or replacing printers is not necessarily the best approach … at least at first. After the print centers are determined, analysis should be completed to find the number of pages printed and where they are originating before determining the best way to optimize the fleet.
Many customers do not realize that only a portion of their machines are working at peak efficiency. It is not uncommon for equipment usage ratios to be on the order of 35:50:15: some machines operating within specified capacities, a smaller number of devices are used more than manufacturer recommendations and a larger number of machines being highly under-utilized.
When the usage ratio is discovered fleet reduction can be a logical next step. Consolidating imaging fleets to include similar machines from a smaller number of manufacturers, put in places where people can easily retrieve their prints, causes operational costs go down and efficiencies go up. Standardization reduces maintenance and repair costs because components can be shared and consumable inventories controlled.
Making MPS Service Centric
An MPS plan that has input from a variety of sources affords the dealer the ability to present a program that fits with the services they offer, and provides their customers with a direction towards long term savings. Better programs add merit to the dealer’s existing value proposition, presenting opportunities for future contract extensions, new sales possibilities and pave the way to additional managed services.
By presenting MPS as a service, customers can truly experience what they will be getting when accepted. But this method often causes salespeople and dealership management apprehension because traditional sales cycles drastically increase. Many dealers fear business may be lost to other providers if MPS transactions do not happen quickly enough.
In reality, this does not have to be the case. Involving customers in outcomes identifies their dealer as a business partner. Partners provide process improvement … and are not just people selling replacement machines. Invested customers tend to be more “sticky” and tend stay with their partners longer.
It takes a special type of sales person who can to work through complex sale processes. MPS sales are not necessarily difficult, but they are multifaceted. Some sales people do not have the aptitude for this.
That’s why many dealerships offer a mixed approach. They have sales people for customers who need equipment, and MPS specialists for those who require managed services. By supporting both, dealers have the ability to excel in selling equipment while expanding and perfecting their MPS offering. As the dealer’s specialist becomes more experienced, more business transactions become MPS focused.
Print management then comes down to whether or not the dealer is prepared to invest in the business … and how quickly can cultural improvement be pushed through.
The MPS Implementation Team
If ever there was a need to get project staffing right, this might be it. Seasoned veterans often relate that having the right people in place to promote and deliver the MPS offer is essential. MPS professionals know that there are very few “quick” sales and sales cycles are largely dependent on how much information can be gained from the prospect. Successful dealers assemble teams of people that help make MPS delivery go smoothly from the onset. MPS teams may include an MPS project manager or MPS Specialist, presales and software deployment individuals, service and supply staff, and representatives from the contract management department. Bringing qualified people into the MPS process early on shows the customer that there is attention to detail providing them with additional resources.
Remember to include the customer! They have the most interest in the outcome and have their own concerns that need to be heard and understood. Often they may be C-level financial or information technology officers at first but responsibilities may be delegated to a point person or persons as the project develops.
Customers must understand the complexities of MPS offerings. When customers are able to recognize all that is involved, they become much more invested in the final outcome and when devoted, are more accepting of what is being proposed because they have already acknowledged the need.
Processes that are easily followed from one step to the next help define key performance indicators and permit service agreements to appear naturally. When MPS presentations roll out in an organized manner, points can be itemized, defined and assigned a value. Using the team approach is not only professional, but each member conveys MPS continuity, allowing the team to follow through on their assigned tasks:
- Customers can tell and define what they would like to accomplish with MPS implementation.
- Deployment specialists can safely and securely install the collection software and address any technical challenges.
- Service and supply fulfillment staff can address how machines can run at peak efficiencies and tell what happens if they don’t.
- Contract specialists can dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s to eliminate surprises after the sale and make the paperwork ready for signatures.
- Information analysts can make sense of the data and assemble the paperwork.
- The MPS Specialist can covey the findings and make recommendations.
Longer sales cycles may require special compensation packages. Some businesses take into account the time it takes to establish programs … initially offering higher salaries and lower fees for service and gradually shifting to a performance based payout as their programs mature. Residual payouts over the life of agreements can be dependent on a successful message delivery.
Compensation models for MPS sales are critical to program success. Rewards may escalate as more defined programs are offered: the more involved the customer is in an MPS offering, the greater the reward. Compensation plans are often created in a way that influences and recognize sales professionals that sell “solutions centric” transactions that include hardware, helping the dealer to meet OEM quotas.
Remuneration for MPS services rendered is certainly a topic for debate, but in the end the dealership director must do what is best for the long term health of the business.
… In Summary
MPS offerings are products. As with any product, it is important to know the features so they can be shown in a way benefits can be gained the person using them.
MPS challenges for dealers arise because many MPS sales propositions are about saving money while printing less. Thus specialists that maximize business flows by helping customers economize their processes. When a pre-sales process is employed from the beginning greater successes can be achieved.
MPS Specialists should locate print centers in their customers’ businesses and determine equipment usage ratios ratio. Once this critical step is accomplished, efficiency discussions can take place. Standardizing on equipment reduces maintenance and repair costs.
By offering MPS as a service, the customer can truly experience what they are getting. Using MPS project management and involving all MPS advocates early in the sales cycle inspires confidence thus making it easier to deliver the final MPS product. When transactions require assistance from many stakeholders, having a roadmap, flowchart or SOP ensures success and often is perceived as a competitive differentiator.
Service oriented transactions, those with supply fulfillment, break/fix, equipment management and other considerations, tend to be much more profitable than straight machine transactions. What’s more, customers involved in the outcome of the MPS program implemented tend to be more “sticky” as they see their dealer as a valued partner rather than someone out for a quick return.
Creating a compensation plan for the MPS project management leader or MPS Specialist helps to build both customer retention and staff longevity. Management should tie compensation to successful delivery of MPS transactions. Fee for service programs should reward individuals for selling solutions that are right for the customer and their business.
Helping customers control their imaging budget should be the goal for dealers, IT professional service providers and VARs in the MPS space. When presented in a professional and methodical way, providers can begin to manage more devices, control more images and add more clients to their expanding MPS programs.