Selling inspiration and efficiency

01 Dec 11

Selling printers has traditionally been an exercise in moving boxes with competition based solely on which machine can produce the fastest print, the best colour, the lowest cost. It is only in the last five years, which have seen exponential growth in online and wireless technologies, that selling the newest print solution has meant selling inspiration for the business or home user. 
With the emergence of the cloud and the growing interconnectivity of business and multimedia technology, from your mobile phone up to the large multifunction print device in your office, the two trends which now elicit the greatest emotional response from consumers these days tend to be immediacy and global accessibility.
Secure print, network integration, the introduction of portable printers, printing direct from tablet and smartphone and, of course, cloud printing are all helping consumers to be more productive and providing consumers with that immediacy and global access. The ability to print, fax, scan and document capture anywhere and at any time is a particularly attractive offer for small business owners wanting to maximise their output in downtime or during time away from the office.
Ability to access and print directly from the cloud is an important feature for the new wave of connected printers, however for many consumers merely listing a printer as ‘cloud capable’ may no longer be enough to make the sale. Consumers want to know how products leverage a cloud offering with other built-in features and how the cloud integration works across their entire network of products.
As the list of features and capabilities for printers grow, so too the does the diversity of products in each range, and understanding your customers’ needs becomes increasingly important.  Finding out whether the need is for office use or personal, colour print or black and white, the odd university assignment or for printing the company newsletter, will have a large bearing on the suitability, functionality and cost of the printer sold.
Even within the same range, capabilities can vary from the basic single function print, to single function with photo quality print.  Moving up in the range brings multi-function devices with scan, fax, copy and print and on to printers which can manage complex actions such as capturing still images from HD video files, full network integration and security and inbuilt photo suites for image editing at point of print. Effective sales people will not only know the product, but will work to know the customer and aim to always surpass their need, rather than simply meeting it.
Up-sell and on-ramp options
The world of connected devices also offers the potential to up-sell on related hardware, software and consumables across the entire range of printers. A customer interested in remote printing might consider how a tablet could help them realise efficiencies or capitalise on opportunities. Equally, their old brick phone might stand for a trade in to a new smart device. Perhaps they might want to link a home printer with a smaller portable printer. The possibilities are endless.
Similarly, software developers and resellers should be looking to printers as an on-ramp to selling their product to corporate clients. For corporate desktop printers, building on the product offering by bundling in image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop is a good way to build the notion of a full print experience for the customer. On the multi-function device side, bundling data capture software is both an attractive offering by way of a one-stop-shop solution for customers and a good way to develop business partnerships.
All printer sales present up-selling opportunities on consumables such as ink, toner and paper for the lifetime of the product and it is important that these remain well stocked, well priced and readily available. These are the milk and bread of the print world – a quick and easy sale, unless you run out or do not keep up with the rest of the market’s prices. The ongoing running cost tends to be one of the first questions asked by consumers when looking to buy a printer and this provides a perfect segue into showcasing an ink and toner range.
Never underestimate the power of investing in stock. Whether it is a new range of printers, the software solution they work with, or simply ink and toner cartridges, nothing sells like the ability to turn a product over in your hands and see it with your own eyes. For many resellers, this will mean working hard to become more consistent with suppliers in communicating stock requirements and developing the supplier’s understanding of the business to allow them to assist in recommending the right portfolio of products.
On a final note, one of the strongest sales tools for printers is the importance of a strong warranty and service offering. Many people, whether it is justified or not, have a preconceived notion around the reliability of printers – picture the old cliché of the office worker struggling with a paper jam in the decades old photocopier. The ability to guarantee fast repair and servicing turnaround and also a local customer contact centre for troubleshooting and support is a huge bonus and can often be the clincher to selling a client on a higher spec printer, a bundled option or even a full print fleet. 

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