Note: This article was filed by a paid contributor to Xerox Corporation.
As they attempt to compete with enterprise-level companies, small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are continually scrutinizing their operations for opportunities to increase efficiency, cut costs and improve bottom-line performance. But SMBs have unique needs and requirements, and understanding them is key to successfully doing business in the space.
Consider this: A recent survey by Xerox and Coleman Parkes Research of more than 1,000 SMBs in the U.S. and Europe found their top-ranked business priorities were “growing the business” and “increased productivity through improved workflow/business processes,” at 47 percent each, with “reduced printing costs” coming in just behind at 42 percent. To achieve these goals, these SMBs need digitization, improved workflows and print management, and yet many of them do not have the in-house resources needed to implement the solutions that will achieve their goals. Their best possible partner is a single-source solutions provider.
For SMB customers looking for complete end-to-end solutions to help them manage their printing, document management and workflow needs, solutions serve a critical role. Channel Partners that offer technology solutions and services boost customer loyalty as well as margins by becoming a strategic value-added partner for their customers. Understanding SMB challenges and key motivators is crucial to selling solutions to this market.
What are SMBs?
Gartner describes SMBs as a “business which, due to its size, has different IT requirements—and often faces different IT challenges—than do large enterprises, and whose IT resources (usually budget and staff) are often highly constrained.” Such environments often suffer from inefficiency and needless complexity resulting from unmanaged or mismanaged print environments, where hardware has been added on an as-needed basis over the years, resulting in mixed fleets and confusion regarding which vendor to call for service or contract terms.
Supporting a wide range of devices from an array of vendors may fall on the SMB’s IT person, who is likely overburdened if such a position even exists. In the absence of an IT staff, those responsibilities may fall on the office manager, whose time could be better spent addressing other business needs. SMBs need to focus on their core business. They want the convenience and simplicity afforded by a provider that handles all their solutions needs. SMBs want fewer hassles, improved efficiency, fast delivery of supplies and quick response to service calls.
Cost saving is another key motivator for SMBs. On average, printing and document management represent 15 percent of an SMB’s overall IT budget and accounts for at least 12 percent of IT resources.1 And although digitization is an important objective, only 1 percent of respondents in the Coleman Parkes survey reported no paper-intensive processes in their businesses, 37 percent have just started to digitize paper processes and 12 percent planned to begin doing so in the next 12 months. Additionally, one in five SMBs wanted to implement a plan for digital processes but were unaware of the options or solutions. For these businesses, programs offering reasonably priced solutions that cover output devices, supplies, workflow solutions, service, support, maintenance and monitoring offer an unbeatable value proposition.
Selling Strategies and Solutions to SMBs
To sell to SMBs effectively, solutions providers should keep their sales pitches simple and focus on the efficiencies their programs offer. The convenience and simplicity of having one contact they can trust to provide solutions for all document and print-related issues is a key selling point. While savings are important, even better is simplicity; emphasize the ease of doing business with the program. Highlight the efficiencies offered to purchasing and management by emphasizing the ability to consolidate printing service contracts and warranties through one vendor. Highlight the increased productivity offered to all employees in a more streamlined environment where users can connect to systems from any device with ease.
Position yourself as a customer advocate. Review the SMB’s objectives thoroughly to address the buyer’s needs clearly and completely. Once the contract is executed, solution implementation should follow. Quick response and fast delivery of service and supplies increase customer satisfaction and mean more profit for the seller. Proper training on the operation of any new equipment and software is another key element in the project’s success.
To ensure long-term, sustained success, schedule regular reviews with customers. These interactions not only help you monitor changing customer needs, which can lead to potential opportunities to supply new hardware and software solutions, but encourage feedback and help determine whether the system is meeting expectations. In addition to eliminating financial surprises, these meetings also provide visibility for the sales team to account details and service events. Good communication is central to project success, and regular meetings enable providers to stay engaged and ahead of the competition.
The need for efficient and effective solutions is just as great, if not more so, among SMBs as it is among large enterprises. Cloud-based solutions are making enterprise-level resources available to everyone, but an SMB with its limited IT resources and smaller budget will likely need a partner to help implement those solutions. Get to know your SMB customers, target their specific needs and requirements and become a trusted advisor and partner—creating a win-win for everyone’s bottom line.
1. Quocirca SMB MPS Study Europe USA High Level Exec Summary January 2014.pptx via Anatomy of an Intelligent Print Environment, Xerox.
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