He gave the scenario that the system he was looking to replace was an older Ricoh MPC4500 (45 page per minute color) with print/scan and fax. He had suggested that the end user get an Ricoh MP3002 (30 page per minute color) with print/scan and fax. He then stated that the customer did not want to get a slower device than what they already had, they were doing abut 6,000 pages per month in black and 400 pages per month in color. I was also told that the color volume was much higher in the past however the end user had either moved a certain job or was not doing that job anymore.
Let's back up a little, the end user is currently doing business with a Direct branch, they have a few payments on the lease and are very happy with the support and service they have received during the term of the current lease.
The current lease price with service is high at almost $500 per month considering that the monthly volume is so low.
Here's a few of the questions I asked him;
- What were you trying to accomplish by recommending a 30 page per minute color when they have a 45 page per minute color? He then stated that the incumbent was a Direct location and he saw an opportunity to try and "right size" the end user and also thought that he would be able to position the monthly price lower with a new lease.
- How much are they current lease payments and how many months are left on the lease? There are two payments.
- Where any service and supplies built into the lease? Yes, 9,000 per month for black, color is billable. However moving forward they want 6K per month and color billable.
- Are they happy with their current vendor (meaning the Direct branch), Yes, there are no issues.
- Is there anything unique in their work flow for scanning, printing, copying, faxing or saving of documents? Here I got a no, just looking to replace an existing system with a new system.
- Is there a desire to enable mobile printing? No
What did I get from all of this? Sometimes there is no holy grail to be found, in this case the customer gave no indications that this was nothing more than a box replacement. When the customer states that they've been happy with the service and support from the existing vendor the chances of getting them to buy from you drops dramatically. Some reps will just try and buy the business by giving a low ball price, others will hang on and keep calling because there is that little bit of hope that they had the better price. But, lets get real, do you think for $50 dollars less per month that the end user will save would make them switch from a known value (the known value is that they have been very happy with the current vendor) to an unknown value of having a new service provider? No chance.
What I would have done in addition:
- I would have asked what manufacturers brand they had before the current system. The same brand will indicate brand loyalty and if it was the same direct branch then that means that not only do they have brand loyalty but also service/support loyalty. If there was no brand loyalty or service/support loyalty you'd have a much better chance of winning the deal.
- I would have asked for a tour of their location. Just maybe I could find some type of pain in their operation and have a solution.
- I would have asked the customer to me more about what they print and copy, meaning how many pages of this and that do you print or copy. If the response was that we print/copy then of this document and 20 of another and then rest is just onesies and twosies of documents and copies then I would move to a lower speed system and explain that with the new technology the systems will warm up quicker, come out of power save faster, rip the print file faster due the larger memory, hard drive and CPU speed. Thus the person who was printing or copying would not see a slow down with their current print or copy process.
- I would have also asked what type or model number is the current vendor suggesting, if it turned out to be the same speed then I would have informed the end user that your current vendor is not concerned about right sizing your system but with just replacing one system with another. We on the other hand are doing the right thing by finding out more about your work flow and type of documents that you print/copy.
- If all else failed I would pull a Kobayashi Maru (change the rules like Capt. Kirk did), I would then ask if they actually put a color original on the glass and make a copy. If the answer was no, then I would suggest tot the end user that maybe they would be better off with 50 page per minute black (monochrome) and have a small color laser to meet the requirements of the 400 pages per month. This may or may not work however you are offering something that would have an increased perceived value, more speed for black and then have redundancy with a second system that could print.