Tuesday, July 31, 2012

1.2 Trillion Printed Pages Equals Good Times for all!

1,000,000,000,000, do what this number is?  If you guessed a billion, well you're wrong. It's one trillion and in 2015 IDC predicts the US printed page volume will reach 1.2 trillion pages! IDC also stated that growth is small at about 0.1%.

The IDC report also stated that MFP's are winning the print volume race, and total pages on MFP's are predicted to exceed 857 billion pages by 2015. 

Here's an paragraph with link so you can read the entire report:

Overall, printed page volume will remain steady despite a myriad of obstacles, including the introduction of green initiatives within a growing number of enterprise organisations; more widespread managed print services engagements; changing end-user behaviour patterns from young, digitally oriented workers; and a weak economy. The IDC report was published in September of 2011.

I've been one of those naysayers who don't think printed pages is going away anytime soon.  Especially not after I read a recent Press Release from Vista Partners stating that they had initiated coverage (have no clue what that means) Auxilio.  I know of Auxilio they are a public corporation that specializes in losing money with Managed Print Services for the health care industry.  I stated specializing in losing money because I had a short elevator talk with one of the execs of Auxilio.  A few months ago  I asked "When is Auxilio going to start turning a profit"?  He stated "We don't have to turn a profit because...", again it was a short elevator talk and all I can remember is the part "We don't have to turn a profit". WTF!

I'm under the impression that printed pages are moving, less pages may (I'm not so sure of this, due to I'm still a sales guy on the street and I'm in tune with my customers page volumes and I'm just not seeing any significant drops) be printed in the corporate office however more pages may come from print production systems, smaller MFP's in smaller offices and home offices and the recent introduction of some niche printing systems.  10 years ago it was almost impossible to find a copier/mfp or laser printer that could print on 80lb cover, gloss, coated or even textured stock.  Today most higher end MFP's can do this with ease, so you tend to think where did the pages come from.  Most likely they came from the decreasing page volumes of off-set presses. More companies are producing a print a wider variety of media than they ever did before!

What got me onto this kinda rant, is that I read an article today from the MFP report that stated "We’re seeing a new reality emerge in office imaging. There’s no need to agree on the exact downward slope of the curve or to highlight all the component trends beneath the surface. The bottom line is that office print volumes are fall- ing and will continue to do so. What matters now is how the MFP industry responds".

I'm thinking the reality is most people have no clue about page volumes, even the end users, talk to them at a meeting and ask them how many pages they print on their MFP's and laser printers on an annual basis and they'll shrug their shoulders and admit that they have no clue. 

Printed pages are not going away, they may be moving and your job is to find where they are moving and to provide the right solution.  To boot I could think of several cool features on MFP's that would actually increase page volumes (maybe someone needs to call me one time, right).  Seriously, we need to remember that the Apple or the IPAD WILL NOT BE responsible for the extinction of paper.

-=Good Selling=-

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Managed Network Services "The New Holy Grail for Office Equipment Dealers"?

A few months we had a thread started on the Print4Pay Hotel forums titled "Managed Services Are You In or Out".  Since then we've had 15 replies and over 150 page views with many different opinions.  I'd like to back up a step and state that most of the Print4Pay Hotel members that actively post responses, ask questions and see answers are probably some of the most knowledgeable reps and work for some of the more progressive dealers that I know in the industry.  All of the threads stated that in some way, shape or form, these reps and dealers are embracing Managed Network Services.

I'll post some of the replies here and then give a few of my own points at the end of the blog.  I encourage you to go here or go here if you need to register (it's free), view the threads and to add your perspective of how you or your company is either moving forward, or already selling Managed Network Services.  It's a good discussion for all of us since this is something new  and we could all learn from each other.

Here's a few of the responses:

We just partnered with an IT services company as another addition to our portfolio. Managing the network is very critical moving forward. We are just in the infancy stage but can see the opportunity and growth opportunities. from Larry

I believe this is the future of our industry. Forget MPS, that's a failure. In the near future a single vendor will manage all of an office's computer hardware. From switches, routers, PCs, printers and MFPs. Its already heading that way. At the very least we all need to partner up with the best IT companies in our territories and work together and share leads. Remember the IT guy's opinion will almost always carry a ton of weight when the customer is choosing an MFP or vendor to connect hardware to the network. from fisher

We have had good results selling IT services to small to medium companies that "dedicated" IT companies don't want to mess with. I'm talking about something in the neighborhood of 3-15 stations. Unfortunately, we now have a problem...customer IT issues are often urgent where getting our MFP's connected seldom is so us copier reps have become less of a priority. We might have to wait a week sometimes to get IT install support from our own people. They see our request as being non-revenue generating even though our dept pays their dept for every install but that is just a revenue shuffle and not net new incremental revenue. However, I'm a firm believer that "A rising tide lifts all boats" Any profitable revenue coming into this company helps us all. from Old Glory

Yes from Jason R

I agree with 'fisher' that "this is the future of our industry" and Managed IT Services would be a logical step for Independent Dealers to take as soon as possible. In fact, it could be necessary in the future, to help protect your base and gain net new business, with this offering. from GMAN

The route where we are finding a lot of interest is speaking to our ability to provide complementary services (remote monitoring, endpoint security, data recovery, etc.) to their current I.T. offerings, whether internal or outsourced. Our goal isn't to replace their existing I.T. (unless they're looking for that) but rather to help them do more with less. A lot of companies that had multiple I.T. people a few years ago are now rolling with a single individual who is overwhelmed. Adding MNS to that equation for $2k-$4k per month is substantially less than adding another full-time person, and you get much more than you would get just by adding another body. from txeagle

These are just a few of the responses that were posted.  Again you can read the rest on the Print4Pay Hotel forums.

But, I'd like to add this. In the last response from txeagle he stated "Adding MNS to that equation for $2K - $4k per month is substantially less than adding another full-time person, and you get much more than you would get just by adding another body".  Wow, that was an awesome response I never thought of it that way. 

But, here's a few thoughts of my own, let's say that the cost cover each PC each month is $30, and the cost to cover a server is $150 per month. How many PC's and Servers would need to be covered to generate a monthly MNS contract in the $2-$4K monthly cost?  One hundred PC's would be $3k per month and maybe 70 PC's and 10 servers would be $3,600 per month.  Let's just say that to generate this type of revenue off of one account it would have to be a size able account.

I'm aware of my own comp plan and the commissions for selling MNS, I've had the opportunity to reach out to a few Print4Pay Hotel members to discuss what their commission (pay) is when they sell and MNS plan.  Pretty much the numbers are all over the place, some dealerships offer as a commission the first two months of billing, while other will pay a percentage of the billing on a quarterly or monthly basis.  The lowest comp plan I saw was for a rep to make 6% per month of the billing.

Now 6% for one account that is averaging $3K per month would net a commission of $180 per month and $2,160 per year.  Based on the yearly that's very acceptable, however you'll also have to figure how long did it take to close that deal.  You see the problem that I see with this is what happens with the smaller accounts like  the 5-25 employees range with anywhere from 5 pc's and a server to 25 pc's and maybe a couple of servers.  Is this really going to pay off for the time that it takes to prospect, research, quote and close the deal, especially of the MNS contract is for 10 pc's and a one server?  A monthly billing of $450 and a commission based on the lowest monthly rate of 6% would generate $27 in commission to the rep per month and $324 per year! BTW, I did ask about the contract term for MNS and no one was locking in contracts for more than one year.

You can also look at this another way, lets say we found and imaging deal (selling an MFP) and the monthly lease rate was $450 per month.  That sale would generate $22,727 in hardware and a good estimate of commission would be about $1,600 and I'm thinking this might be on the low side. 

Right away, I'm thinking that it would be practical to not offer MNS for companies that have less than 25 employees or less than 15 networked PC's and servers. 

There's so much more to MNS, you could also generate additional billing hours for professional services, of course you would "own" the network, but as a rep who will be selling these services we need to find out where our time is best spent.  Please fell free to comment!

-=Good Selling=-

Saturday, July 28, 2012

My 5 Step BOX Approach for MFP Prospecting

I think this sometime this year; I’ll be starting my 34th year in the copier business. If we want to be technical I guess you could say that I’m now selling imaging hardware and solutions.
Over those years I’ve seen many sales people, managers, DSM’s and owners come and go.  I guess at this point in my career I can state that I’m one of the constants in the industry and I’ll be working in this industry in some fashion until I retire, or get hit by a bus.

At this point in my career I’ve seen the good times in the industry, there’s been quite a few of those and some bad times.  Never, ever have I seen a period of time where more business owners are either buying systems, opting for $1 out leases, accepting an automatic lease renewal or suffering without dated technology.  A CEO once told me that he doesn’t invest in people he invests in technology. I forgot the CEO’s name however I do remember that he ran one of the largest chemical factories in New Jersey at one time. For many years I used his statement as one of my value added statements and in most cases the statement hit the mark and helped me close sales. Over the last four years and I might even push for 5 years the economy has had a direct effect on my sales efforts.

In the last three years I’ve seen two sales managers and nine sales reps come and go at our dealership.  One rep has been able to make it past two years and from my perspective he looks like he will do well in the industry. 

As I was driving to my second appointment today I had some thoughts as to why I’ve been successful through the good times and bad times.  What made me different from all of those reps that never stayed in the industry?  My wife tells me that I’m gluten for rejection, but she also stated that I have an awesome work ethic.  I’m in agreement on the work ethic, but I think the real reason is the enjoyment I get when someone orders from me, along with the fact that I can make extra money whenever I want. 

Which brings me to

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Copier Dealerships Use of Tablet Technology Saves the Day!

Rick Backus is a genuine genius when it comes to implementing time saving solutions for Copier & Managed Print Dealers.  We're also proud to have Rick as a member and sponsor of the Print4Pay Hotel forums, many times Rick has stepped up and offered a solution when most of thought there was not one.  This blog from Rick is a great example of how Rick's knowledge and expertise can help your company improve it's business processes.

Support revenue using mobile devices to capture signatures and data from the field

One of my clients was recently looking to refresh their field service technician's hardware and was considering whether they might be able to roll out tablets rather than upgrade the existing laptops.

Essentially the techs only needed storage for technical and part manuals, Internet access and email for communication. Tablets are certainly capable of fulfilling these requirements and are considerably less expensive which is always a powerful motivator.

During this same time period another dilemma was confronting the service department. They were losing a significant amount of revenue from chargeable, time and material calls where the customer was disputing the invoice and service could not produce a signed copy of the service call report to substantiate their invoice to the customer. It seems the existing procedure for processing the call reports no tracking ability to insure the techs a) Actually filled out and returned a signed copy of the report and b) once it was returned that it was properly filed and retrievable.

Many months ago I had setup a SharePoint site for them for a sales related project but at the time we also created a document library to scan date-batched service call reports to for archiving. You know, eliminate the paper and all... Well this process fell by the wayside and the department was losing revenue. A new solution was desperately needed.

Electronic forms would foot the bill but since they were using SharePoint Foundation they did not have access to InfoPath forms. After some research and testing on our in-house SharePoint Enterprise instance we came up with a solution to the problem. With a new mail-enabled, document library in the service department's sub-site we installed a new application to create electronic PDF forms. Using the original pdf file from the paper version as an underlay we inserted all the necessary data fields in the form including mapping specific fields to document library columns as metadata. The parts sales prices and final totals were setup to automatically calculate as well.

After some testing and training we rolled the solution out to the techs. It was a tremendous success. They have nearly 100% compliance, the completed forms are emailed back to the SharePoint document library and indexed automatically. Using views and/or filtering we can identify the chargeable reports, compare form count to tech closed calls as a cross check and we have all the customers emails for marketing purposes. The customers are impressed by the use of technology including using their finger to sign the forms which are emailed to them immediately. It was a huge win all the way around.

This technology opened up a whole variety of other opportunities with this client. The next step is to tackle the delivery and acceptance forms.

If this is something you think your organization could benefit from contact me here.

-=Good Selling=-


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Oce is to CBS as Ikon is to RBS. True or not True

After 300 plus reads in a week, seems like Vince McHugh hit the nail on the head!  For those who have not read Vince's blog here's a snippet with a link and then don't pass up on the responses from our Print4Pay Hotel Members!  They are classic!

You gotta love the insight from Vince McHugh about Canon and OCE. He's dead on with the Ricoh/Ikon thing and dead on with the coming merge of Canon/Oce. Read and enjoy especially you Ricoh folks that have been slamming me for years, seems you're not the only dog on the block looking for a new fire hydrant! Vince....great stuff!!
Oce:CBS::Ikon:RBS Simple Math

In case your math skills are a little rusty the equation reads Oce is to CBS as Ikon is to RBS. True or not True. Here is my argument for True:

The carnage at Ricoh Business Solutions continues as the Ikon takeover of RBS moves into it’s final stages. Ikon’s management is firmly ensconced in upper and middle management of RBS. And guess who they are bringing along for the ride? All their Ikon friends. The loyal RBS employees are being squeezed out!

(Please feel free to skip the rant in red below. I will not feel offended if you do).

I need to digress here and say I long for the days when the company who BOUGHT

Bad Copier Quote Equals Dishonest Copier Rep

I got a call the other day from an existing customer who leased a color 35 page per minute color system from us two years ago almost to the day. Initially the customer and I had estimated that their color volume would be about 3,000 pages per month.  The call kinda went like this "we're spending too much money on color and we'd like to meet with you and btw, we're entertaining other vendors".

I knew that the customer had leased the system for 60 months and they still had 36 months left on the old lease agreement.  I did not want to go on this call, I thought that maybe Kyo or Xerox were in on it, and it would be agonizing to sell against the tiered color billing systems that they may be offering.

When I arrived at the account, by the way I like people with this account and this can't be said about all of my accounts.  I was prepared with the last four quarters of billing and pretty much instead of the estimated 3,000 pages per month they were pushing twice that.

What I really wanted to write about was the quote I saw from a competitor, most professionals in our industry will do a Total Cost of Analysis for the customer. In most cases I will look at the last year of usage and billing, just because it is indicative of their present volume.

The quote from the competitor just took a sampling of one quarter of the customers usage for  the year.  They based the ROI to move forward on just three months usage!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Covering the Copier & MFP Industry One Click at a Time

I thought this would be a great interview for everyone.  Scott Cullen has followed the copier industry since 1986 and has interviewed the who's who of industry professionals through out the years. He's a stand up guy and I've always enjoyed reading his articles. I thought it was time that someone would turn the tables an interview Scott. With out further ado, my interview with Scott Cullen.

When was your first Office Equipment Industry article and what was it about?

In 1986, an article on BIS CAP (Now Info Trends) conference I covered in Boston on small business for Office Systems magazine.

How the heck did a rock n roller like yourself get connected with the Office Equipment Industry?

I had just lost my dream job the previous November where I was writing for a cable TV magazine in Connecticut. The magazine was sold to a competitor and they shut us down. I spent most of November and early December helping a friend in his landscaping business and in January worked as a freelance proofreader for a book publisher. Around that time I saw an ad in the paper from Office Systems magazine looking for an associate editor. I applied, got called for an interview and within in a week was offered the job. Turns out that was the only job I ever had in my life that I didn't get through some sort of networking. I did get a great reference from Peter Funt (Son of Candid Camera's Allen Funt) who was the publisher of the cable TV magazine.

You've been to a lot of dealers events over the years, what two events stands out more than the others?

First is a Canon dealer meeting in Scottdale, Arizona in the eighties. It was my second dealer meeting and even though I was still learning my way around the industry, it was a great time. That's the only dealer meeting where I go to go horseback riding.

The second had to be a NOMDA dealer meeting Las Vegas in the mid nineties. What made that great was the camaraderie I had with my colleagues in the press when there were many more publications covering the industry as well as many PR people for the various manufacturers who to this day remain my friends. What made this one memorable was we all went to dinner at Hugo's Cellar in the Four Queens and then to a show with 60s pop star Johnny Tillotson ("Poetry in Motion"). It was an amazing evening, and yes, a fair amount of alcohol was involved.

What was the worst dealer event you ever covered?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Can Your Dealership Profit through the Click Charge ECM?

Darn tootin!  I wrote about the Intellenetics Enterprise Content Management solution a few weeks ago during Photizo's Global Transform show in Orlando this year.  BTW, I recommend that all MFP dealers try and make this show next year in Scottsdale, and don't rely on the data and information your MFP manufacturer is feeding you is the right solution for making a profit.

A few days ago I was treated to a Mano-a-mano webinar with the folks at Intellenetics about their "Click Charge" ECM solution that is designed for the MFP and MPS dealer channel.  Here's a few interesting items I picked up. Hmmm.....

All right seems these notes will be from memory because I misplaced the note pad that had the notes! 
  • Branding is available
  • Dealer Billing per month and then Dealer bills end user with MU
  • Direct Billing to customer and royalties paid back to dealer
  • Public portion of ECM allows users to search on their documents
And that's about all I can remember with my notes, not a big deal because Intellenetics will conduct a private webinar on July 19th for Print4Pay Hotel Members.  After I viewed the webinar a few days ago I asked them to tweak a few things and that will tell your more about the billing, and branding options along with the revenue stream royalties and the up charge for billing. 

If I had my own dealership (which I don't), I would be rolling this out to all of my SMB accounts.  First I would call them and ask them for a short 15 minutes about a new product and service we are launching. I would schedule this for one day of the week, like a Thursday and set 4-5 appointments each day.  I would then have a power point presentation set-up.  I would then guide them through the FAB (remember FAB, Feature, Advantage and Benefit),  and of course at the end when they ask how much this will this cost I will have TWO plans available.  A Premium Plan where we charge a base monthly fee and scan click charge (could be quarterly), where we (dealer) controls the uploading to the Cloud, and the indexing, and we would then train the end user on how to retrieve the documents.  The second plan would be Basic Plan, where we charge a monthly (could be quarterly) base fee and scan click charge, we would train the customer on how to index, upload and retrieve the files.

Remember it's not about the big sale, it's about the click and the ongoing annuity stream.  Most SMB accounts are scanning to a wndows based file folder and then placing documents (that are not OCR'd or in  indexed) in nested folders. If you can find the pain, which there is with this type of format you can bring home the bacon and have the best of both worlds by capturing the scans and the print clicks.  Keep in mind that Dealers have been reluctant to charge for scans because they were afraid that they would lose print clicks to the competitors who did not charge for scans. But in this scenario  you are presenting value of the ECM system and the benefit of accessing those files from the cloud.

Recently, I've been scheduling appointments for our new services, and with every appointment each customer either asked for a quote or additional information about a pain that we discovered on the appointment.  The moral of the story is to keep introducing new products and services to your existing accounts, they are a gold mine of they have pain in their business process.  

Please go here for the exclusive P4P Hotel webinar for Intellenetics "Can Your Dealership Profit through Click Charge ECM.

=-Good Selling=-

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Should She Resign or Just Quit Selling Copiers "Ask Art"

A few days ago I had an email from a P4P'er (Print4Pay Hotel member) in respect to her quitting the industry or just resigning and moving to another company.  Here's a snippet of the message that was emailed to me.

Arthur, I've been in the copier industry for more than ten years with my current company, I've always hit my quotas and have been a student of the industry. Today I found out that there are several new reps in the company that have a higher salary than me, in fact it's almost 24% higher!  There are a couple of other differences however I'm pretty annoyed that my years of experience are of no value to the company I work for.  These new reps have ZERO experience in the business.  I have no one to turn to and would like some advice as to.........  from Andover, Maryland

Dam, girl....I'm not sure what to tell you!  I would tend to think that someone with your experience would be worth more.  First things first, I would not rely on hearsay, this could get your fired if you confront your manager or dealer owner. If its hearsay always remember this saying "believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see" and leave it alone!  On the other hand if you have proof (documentation) then I would recommend a meeting with your manager, be prepared because depending on how you got the proof could get you fired also.  Maybe you need to address it like this to your manager, "with all due respect I've heard that there are new reps that have a higher salary than mine, why is that"? If it's true most likely you'll see uneasiness in their voice, a cold stare, and a few seconds of silence, most likely whatever is stated by your manager other than "yes you're right", will be a load of BS.

Since you've been in the business this long I think it would be foolish to leave the industry.  I would get your ducks in line before you talk with your manager and if you don't like what you're hearing then maybe the only recourse is to resign.  There also might be a good reason for the other reps having a higher base, maybe that have a lower commission scale. Make sure you have all of the facts first.  I do tend think that with someone of your tenure you also have more responsibilities with managing existing accounts and I can't see the logic why a new hire would be paid more especially when they do not have to manage that many accounts or more importantly they don't have the knowledge to manage the accounts.

If what you say is correct then I pity the management team that you work for and maybe it's time to find a new team.

One other item I found  on the web:

"Do you have enough savings or other income to manage on? Even if your employment situation isn't the best, you might want to consider hanging on to the job you have, as well as your paycheck, and starting your job search before you resign. That old saying that "it's easier to find a job, when you have a job" does hold true".

-=Good Selling=-

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The End of Solution Sales? Are they Fracking Crazy?

The other night I came across an article/blog titled "The End of Solution Sales", as usual I gave it a read and was not in agreement with several of the statements that were made by the authors.

"But now, owing to increasingly sophisticated procurement teams and purchasing consultants armed with troves of data, companies can readily define solutions for themselves". 

Hey, if the procurement teams and purchasing teams are investigating pricing, they can pretty much find that anywhere for a specific piece of hardware or solution.  The trick is knowing which solution is the right fit and if  there is a better solution that will ease the pain or improve the business process to make it the corporation moer efficient.  You can look up tons of information on the web, however can you really find a solution to specific business problems?  In some cases, I'm thinking yes, however when it comes to true print stream management solutions I'm thinking, not really! 

Let's take this for example:  combine print stream to print 3 pages on NCR paper and staple, a google lookup returns this.  If you got to the second page of the google search you would have seen a few of my blog posts, however nothing on the acutally software that provides the solution.

There will always be Solution Sales and there will always be Solution Sales People, the "End of Solutions Sales" is catchy title and thats about all it is.   Vince from the P4P Hotel forums posting this in reference to the article;  "I hope like Hell my competition reads this and decides to fire their Solutions and Systems Engineers. Beucase then I will have an even easier time of cleaning their clocks!

Why RFPs don't work anymore!

The first couple of paragraphs don't seem to be supported by the end of the article, unless the Super Saleman that he speaks of have in depth technical knowledge of the products they sell and the network environments that they sell them into, Oh wait! That would be a Pre Sales Solution Engineer. Never mind!"

The other statement I am not in agreement with is "The top-performing reps have abandoned the traditional playbook and devised a novel, even radical, sales approach built on the three strategies outlined above. Let’s take a close look at each".  There is NO playbook! Top reps will always find a way to tweak strategiesnd if they don't they will be left in the dust.

I had to chance to look up the three writers for this article/blog and there was one common theme among them (lloed them up on linkedin), seems like none of them had real sales experience and the article/blog they wrote about was based on data.  Come on, if you're really going to claim that this is the end of Solution Sales at least have some experience in sales!

Solution Sales is here to stay, the rep or the company that seeks out new technologies and new solution vendors will always be one step ahead of the competition and always have a creative way to solve a business process. If you don't eat the bear, the bear will eat you!

BTW, here's the link for the article!

-=Good Selling=-