As part of the Channel Managed Print Services team, I am fortunate enough to work with channel partners from across the globe. Talking to those channel partners has inspired me to write about the art of selling managed print services.
In this article, I’m going to cover something that crops up time and again in my discussions, the hidden costs of a client managing their own printer supplies process – and why it is vital that channel partners uncover those hidden costs on every sales call.
Typical client supplies process
First, consider what happens when a printer needs supplies. For the sake of brevity, I will start at the point when the helpdesk (or designated person in the client’s business) receives the call from a hopefully, not too frustrated user.
- Take and log call from user – hopefully it’s not too late and the printer still has some supplies
- Check stock room or cabinet to see if we have any spare toner on other floors or buildings
- Look up the last order – who did we order from last time?
- Research prices and check if you have the best deal – Google/search toner numbers
- Validate address, contact & asset information with user – has the machine moved?
- Prepare order and seek approval – hopefully approvers provide quick response
- Purchasing department processes the order – rush shipping charges may apply if the users failed to notify you until the last minute
- Contact vendor to check on shipment if toner doesn’t arrive in a couple of days
- Ensure it has been delivered, who signed for it, or has someone else innocently used in their area
- Restock the supply cabinets and balance inventory between locations
- Deal with the invoice
- Deal with any quality issues/returns
Clearly, this process takes up time and resource and therefore has a cost. Now, to be honest it is not easy to quantify as each client, and his or her processes will vary. However, there is a cost, so where do you start?
Take clients through the supplies process
First, you need to convince clients that there is a cost before you quote your services – you cannot demonstrate cost savings if the client is not aware of them. This is why it is important for you as the channel partner to take your client through the supplies process and demonstrate that there is both a financial cost and opportunity cost at play.
Benefits, benefits, benefits
A good managed print service provider can take care of many of these tasks, and thus reduce the cost. This then gives the client an opportunity to free up valuable ‘people resources’ and utilise them better within their business. Remember too, most supplies will be “proactively managed” – which means the users no longer need to be involved in the supplies ordering process.
Remind clients of the hidden costs
By their very nature, hidden costs can be easy to overlook. Remind clients that there are a wide range of devices out there, and an equally wide range of consumables. Remind them that more than 30% of calls to the help desk are for printer issues, and many of those issues are simple as replacing supplies. Remind them that with managed print services the IT Manager needs to spend less time managing print device requests and more time on more critical IT projects.
Automating Supplies Management (Contracted)
The best managed print service providers provide a centralized service desk to take over this headache on behalf of the channel partner and their clients, making the entire process simple and worry-free. That is one of the reasons we created the Xerox Global Contact Center – to provide an easy way for your SMB clients to manage printer supplies and remote solutions. If only everything was this easy.
Automating Supplies Management (Non Contracted)
What happens if your client prefers to buy their toner out? In this scenario, Xerox channel partners can use Xerox managed supplies services to provide proactively managed supplies. This a great first step in the MPS journey and helps channel partners win new business for clients who may not be ready for a contract yet.
The Art of Uncovering hidden Costs
There is an art to selling managed print and uncovering the hidden costs of the supplies process is just one of the many ways to paint the perfect managed print services picture. Make sure that you take the time to master it and you will not regret it.
If you have a story about helping a client recognize their hidden costs, or about how outsourcing has made a difference to their uptime? Tell us in the comments below. We could be sharing your story next.
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Great Article Dan. Am sure this will be very useful for our channel partners.
Thanks for commenting Rachel. Keep an eye out for the next Selling Managed Print article from Dan.
great blog Dan!! Looking forward to the next one.
Thanks for reading the article and leaving a comment Edwin. Dan seems to have picked a popular topic for channel partners.
[…] best illustrate how full-service MPS reduces the burden and cost of managing printer supplies, the Xerox Channel Partner Connection blog suggests partners should remind clients that around one-third of all IT help desk calls are for printer […]
Very good read Dan! Great Blog!
Good and practical article to share with partners and customers !
Thanks for commenting Duck
Thank you guys, I also posted in Linkedin and there someone commented that this is also a great way to get the channel sales person into thinking and talking about processes. And this is key as we move into the Automate and Simplify space where we help clients print less and not only print for less that is more traditional.
Dan, I think your article reminds us of the fact that excellence is a process and not a single event. Success just doesn’t fall in our laps, we must continuously strive to remind our customers the level of work and effort involved in even the seemingly smallest tasks. Good work.
Yes Ken, you need to help you client to change, and change is not always easy.
A good read and useful to articulate the complexity that is inherent in many of the process that support printing.
However, it got me thinking, what is more difficult getting the channel sales person to understand the value of MPS or getting the customer to understand the value of MPS? Often its the former!
Keith, as with everything, the answer is it depends, but I know were you are coming from, and as mentioned so many partners haven’t adopted MPS yet, or many sales people still don’t understand the value.
Having been involved in MPS for over many years, I have to admit it does still surprise me that I have to sell the what feels like the fact like a no brainer that is proportional to “the Earth is round”.
However we still get challenged despite the fact that MPS is one of the few true win win win situations, the fact it solves so many issues for clients and partners alike like, the fact that its an area of significant growth in a tough industry, and all the analysts are discussing it.
Usually they are fearful of getting into MPS, and we help them as we have a industry leading onboarding process to help them understand, and we also have modular services to take on the “burden” their perceive in areas where there are not ready for like a service desk or assessment and design. Once the partners come in, they usually see that their fears were just that, and the don’t look back. And we have many case studies of partners who have then presented what it meant for them.
We persevere as the facts stand up, and eventually the person you are facing will experience an “ah ha” moment, or will
generally be forced into MPS by their competitors and will come back to you.
The key is the reason to move, if the partner is content with what they have, are not really threatened competitively, and don’t like change then you need to move on to another one.
I fully agree with your comment ‘it does still surprise me that I have to sell the what feels like the fact like a no brainer’, I also find it hard that people including customers just don’t see the value in managing their printing better. It really is a no brainer, to me anything that isnt managed appropriately within any business will cost more and deliver less, simple.
Really useful & thought provoking article Dan. I will definitely use these hidden costs you’ve highlighted in partner conversations & collateral to build the argument for MPS solutions. Thanks!
Great article Dan! Thanks for the great info!
Great article Dan, definitely going to use these 12 steps to help customers understand the value of what we offer!
Excellent article Dan. You raise a lot of good points here. MPS is good for both the end-user and the partner.
[…] part one of my Selling Managed Print series, I wrote about the hidden costs of the self-managed supplies process and was pleased to find so […]
I just read the trilogy, and its extremely enlightening thank you, I will be using with my sales staff to ensure they all comprehend this critical aspect of the engagement. Much appreciated
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