The buyer journey for printing services is in the middle of a fundamental change. Suppliers are battling to maintain their revenues in the face of a shift in buying habits, as more and more customers move from buying ‘transactionally’ to some form of ‘Managed Print Service’ (MPS).
I’d therefore urge those of you who do business in the transactional sales world to wake up to this challenge and create a strategy for fighting back. This is a very real and growing problem. Many channel partners are helplessly looking on as their revenue stream slips away because they are not doing anything. For me, doing nothing is not an option; to do so will mean losing customers and revenue – please don’t let this happen to you!
Protect your existing customers
So what can be done? Firstly, you need to protect your heartland – your existing customers – given it remains a massive market full of opportunities. At the same time, you need to develop a plan to move towards some form of MPS, whether it be automated supplies replenishment or something more complex. Having a strategy in this field is key to not only protecting your existing customers but also winning new ones.
Open a dialogue
In my first blog article, channel partners and vendors a marriage of equals, I spoke about the importance of vendors listening at every opportunity to truly understand what channel partners need. So talk to your vendors to see how they can help with this challenge. At Xerox, for example, we recognise that building any form of MPS plan or solution is a real challenge, so, to make it easier for our transactional channel partners to win in this new buying environment, we’ve developed Xerox Supplies Service.
Look for the win-win
This MPS ‘lite’ solution offers the transactional channel partner the chance to play in an ‘automated supplies’ environment. This free, no-contract solution simplifies the sales process, delivers a full understanding of the customer’s printer fleet (including usages), increases your profit, locks your customer to you and guarantees 100% share of all supplies orders. The end user customer benefits through a simplified procurement process and the security that they will never run out of toner or have spare stock sitting in cupboards again. They could also gain with a 25-40% reduction on their supplies costs. This looks like a win-win for both sides to me!
Change affects us all
But it’s not just the transactional channel partners who need to look at ways of growing their business in this ever-changing world of print. Some forward thinking channel partners in the transactional arena have already been developing their own forms of MPS solutions and are starting to fight in the contractual/MPS space attacking the heartlands of traditional contractual channel partners.
Protect your business
So how can the MPS channel partner protect their businesses? Well, we haven’t forgotten about this and have developed a transactional module and added this to the Xerox Partner Print Services program to encourage a complete, automated provision process that delivers toner to all out of scope devices with cost savings to both the channel partner and end user. Again, I say please don’t stand still and watch the battle raging around you – instead talk to us and see how we can help you defend your space and grow into your competitors.
Embrace change now
To conclude, I’d urge you all to embrace this change in buying habits now, rather than watch your customers disappear. Getting it right will be the difference between a shrinking revenue number and a growing one. It’s as serious a challenge as that. The good news is that most vendors understand this challenge and the good ones will be ready and waiting to support their channel partners in meeting it successfully. I look forward to helping you on this path.
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