Looking Good on Paper: Four Keys to Positioning a Managed Print Practice

Managed print

Every good actor knows that to stay on top, you need to get off the stage and sit in the crowd to see what the audience sees. Solution providers, too, need to look through the eyes of their audience – their customers.

When it comes to selling managed print and document management services, there’s a growing body of evidence suggesting potential customers know what they want and are more attracted to solution providers that excel in a few key areas like flexible contracts, advantageous pricing and a solid pre-existing relationship with the partner. The smart money for services firms, therefore, is to get inside the heads of the clientele and craft models and practices that resonate.

Here’s how to make your MPS pitch pop, as seen through the eyes of potential customers:

Sort Out the Chaos

Recent studies show the top priorities for MPS buyers are updating aging or underperforming printer fleets, optimizing employee-to-device ratio and reducing the number of device brands deployed in their organizations. In fact, 45 percent of respondents to International Data Corp.’s Worldwide Managed Print and Document Services survey say potential MPS clients want assessment and design services the most, followed closely by optimization.

Print Partner Prescription: The detailed preliminary assessment is a vital first step in building any managed services relationship. Come to the table with a way to calculate print usage that results in a graphic representation of device utilization with anticipated improvements for a variety of scenarios. Determining the correct offerings to suit a client’s needs can significantly aid in apprehending “change” anxieties.

Use What You Know

Determining the best course of action for a client involves more than counting devices and calculating paper and consumables. Clients want managed print services providers that can affect changes in the organization to positively impact business outcomes. That takes a deep knowledge of the client’s business and processes.

Print Partner Prescription: Few third-party partners have the visibility into a customer’s business workflow that IT partners and BTA dealers enjoy. Leverage your knowledge of the strengths and pain points to offer better and more targeted print services that focus on business solutions rather than simple technology bundles.

Leverage Vertical Focus

Buyers in vertical markets are looking for improvements and advantages unique to their business. The devices may look the same, but their optimized deployment in a health care facility, for example, looks very different from that of a financial company or a legal office.

Print Partner Prescription: Partners steeped in vertical market services have a significant opportunity to differentiate and add value through targeted MPS that takes advantage of their specialized knowledge and skills. Whether its deep knowledge of HIPAA compliance and EMR requirements in health care or Sarbanes-Oxley rules in accounting PCI regulations in retail, partners need to work their vertical expertise into most every managed print proposal.

Have a Deep Bench

Clients want to simplify their lives and their organizations, but that doesn’t mean they want limited functionality. According to IDC, business decision-makers considering MPS ranked the breadth of the partner’s product line highly, as well as that partner’s ability to support multiple locations with consistent direct support.

Print Partner Prescription: Demonstrating how managed services allows you to scale through automated and remote support functions is a good conversation starter. You’ll need to seal the deal with a proven track record and strong relationship with a trustworthy vendor that delivers a full complement of business-class printers, scanners, copiers and multifunction devices.

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A final word about cost: Data from IDC and others shows that, while price may not be a top priority, it is still a factor when engaging a managed print or document management services provider. The real issue isn’t about pinching pennies; it’s about controlling costs and making them predictable and defensible from a business outcome perspective.

Clients move toward this goal, IDC finds, by looking for ways to reduce the number of contracts and contractors they deal with for their IT services at large. That’s good news for the partners that can make the best use of the tips and intelligence above, and position themselves to be the one partner left standing when a customer decides to cull their leases and contracts list.

If you’re of a mind that price might be the deciding factor in such a contest, we offer a word of caution: As the name of any managed services implies — MPS included — it’s all about the services. Having a successful relationship with a partner is the number one factor in determining which partner will be chosen from many, according to the WMPDS study. The most frequently cited reason for cutting the cord with a partner? Poor service.

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