Considering whether to add managed print services (MPS) to your line card can raise a lot of questions and concerns — the last thing you want is to move forward with a new offering only to find out your strategy is hindering growth. To make sure you build a solid MPS offering, Chris Hamilton, Director, MPS Strategy and Delivery for Ricoh, lists four managed print services mistakes and shares advice on how to avoid them.
1. Discounting Print-Specific Expertise
“In my experience, IT service providers, network integrators and so on can provide managed print services, but not by themselves,” says Hamilton. He says when managed services providers (MSPs), value-added resellers (VARs), integrators, and other IT solutions providers plan to offer MPS, they tend to outsource their expertise from ‘boutique,’ smaller, more regional MPS firms.
“An IT services organization with an existing relationship with a client may have strong knowledge of how that client operates and what its needs are, but they often can’t provide MPS-specific expertise, which is crucial,” Hamilton says. “While you could potentially provide managed print services without in-depth training and expertise, it would be much harder to sell potential customers on it, and it would be much harder to do it well enough to gain a reputation.”
He comments, however, “If I were to look into my crystal ball, I’d say that in the coming years IT service providers will be key contributors to MPS because customers are expanding their definition of managed print to include more services.” An example is Security as a Service, which is a growing part of the MPS ecosystem.
2. Assuming “Managed Print Services” Means the Same Thing to Everyone
Hamilton says clients of all sizes and types can benefit from managed print services, but what “managed print services” means to them can be relative. “In a small, 20-person firm, managed print could mean simply having quick, reliable fixes and replacement of consumables,” he says. On the other hand, a massive enterprise has significantly different MPS needs. Furthermore, clients come from all over the spectrum of MPS maturity, so needs from one organization to the next can differ greatly.
“Having broad, deep experience allows an MPS provider to handle it all, and experienced providers are often much better at articulating the value that effective MPS strategies provide,” Hamilton says.
3. Pushing Businesses into Digital Transformation before They’re Ready
Hamilton points out that just because a potential client is interested in managed print services, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are on a digital transformation journey. “Some MPS providers have a ready-made talk track about moving from the physical to the digital world, getting documents into electronic workflows,” he says. “But not every business wants that.”
He advises you to do your research, and start the conversation with what the client cares about, their pain points and their goals. He adds, “Also, during that conversation, don’t expect decision-makers to understand the fundamentals of MPS already. Be prepared to talk basics, educate them on how MPS can benefit them, and how it has benefited their peers.”
4. Not Having the “What’s Next” Conversation
He also reminds MPS providers not to wait until a contract is coming to its end to show other areas of value you can provide. “By then, chances are they’ve already made up their minds on what they’re doing next, regardless of what you say. More strikingly, if you haven’t been checking in frequently and offering new ways to be of help, a customer may think you’ve forgotten about them, or don’t have more to offer. Those considerations may have been a factor in their “what’s next” decision – the one they potentially already had without you there,” he says.
Don’t Miss These Opportunities
It’s also a mistake for MPS providers to overlook prime opportunities to sell this service, especially in the healthcare and higher education verticals. Organizations in both of these markets need to manage printing across campuses or disparate locations and need systems and devices that communicate with one another.
Hamilton comments, “While organizations in both these industries could benefit greatly from MPS, they often lack centralized purchasing and centralized strategies, which makes selling them on an overarching approach to MPS both more necessary and more difficult. When discussing opportunities with these customers, it can help to emphasize the benefits for end users, such as patients, doctors, faculty and students.”