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Competing against the copier salesperson

01 Dec 2011

The recurring revenue stream from printing and copying is often overlooked on a client’s site, even when the reseller is providing comprehensive managed services for almost everything else attached to their network. Traditionally printer supply from an IT reseller perspective has been seen as a highly competitive, low margin hardware item with little strategic value. This needs to change as clients now see value in reducing the number of suppliers and dealing only with their trusted partners. Printing and copying is often controlled by one of the large copier vendors, whose model is to sell direct and lock the customer into a 36 month contract with large A3 devices. These copier vendors are looking to diversify their offerings as they expand into telephony, boardroom solutions and, with the advent of the cloud, managed IT services through wholesale ITSP. The risk you face as an IT reseller if you don’t manage your clients’ print and copy needs, is that you may give away the advantage of being their trusted partner. Recent advances in technology have resulted in most printer vendors now having a good range of colour and mono multifunction printers, which give away nothing to their larger copier counterparts in terms of performance and features. This gives resellers the opportunity to promote the printer based devices into sites that have traditionally been locked into an expensive 36 month lease with a copier company, and finally get all devices attached to the network under management. The benefits for the customer are numerous, with much lower capital costs. They can still lease but the value will be much lower, and the increased productivity that comes from having distributed printers that are tailored to the individual requirements rather than one large central machine. Replacing a copier with an A4 MFP is only half the answer for the reseller – the critical part is ensuring they secure the on-going revenue from the consumables supply, this is where copier companies have always excelled in the past, but now the door is wide open. Managed print solutions New ways of packaging and providing both the hardware and the consumables are being developed by printer vendors, which allow them to be marketed as managed print solutions. This combines the hardware and the consumables into a standard cost per page solution, for which the customer is billed and pays on a monthly basis. This is possible due to improvements to the functionality and reduced cost of printer based hardware, as well as reductions in the running costs of these products, so much so that they can almost match copier cost per page rates. To automate servicing the customer and reduce costs a data collection agent is installed on the customer’s network. This provides the information to send replacement consumables and collect the monthly copy count for billing purposes. The main benefit of managed print solutions is that there is no upfront hardware cost for the customer, as the machine is put into a lease or rental contract. Print/copy costs are available at several different rates depending on the customer’s monthly printing and copying volumes, and available for either colour or mono devices, in single function or multifunction configurations. As the print volumes increase, the cost per page decreases. Machine selection is important and needs to be matched to the customer’s requirements and print volume. Getting a foot in the door In order to take advantage of the opportunity to replace copiers, resellers need to be aware of when their customer’s copier lease is coming up for renewal. If the customer has other old and inefficient printers that no longer fit their requirements, then it is also an opportunity to upgrade them to a more comprehensive and managed solution. Resellers need to take advantage of their existing relationship and simply ask the right questions. Printing and copying is often a pain point with companies due to incorrect machine choice and old, unreliable equipment. The questions are simple: 1.    What is the requirement – printing, copying, scan to email, scan to network or PC, faxing? 2.    What is the format and type of printing required – A4, A3, other, colour, black and white? 3.    How many users/locations and what monthly print/copy volume for each? With the above information the number and types of machines required can be determined. Any extra features can be determined, like restricting some users to mono only, user access control via pin numbers, secure scanning and printing for HR departments and anything else the customer requires. Use your printer vendor By partnering with the right vendor or distributor, the logistics, maintenance and billing can be managed by experienced print specialists while the IT reseller remains the trusted advisor to their customers, thus shutting out competitors. Resellers should take advantage of the expertise of their printer vendor to help determine the correct machine and features, as well as assist with any implementation. Machines are very sophisticated now with many features, and it is beyond reasonable expectation for a reseller to know them all. Tap into that missing revenue stream and gain greater involvement with your customers business need’s and help both your businesses grow! 

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