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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