I visit a number of different resellers and dealers all over the UK, of all shapes, sizes and numbers. Everything from successful Xerox Concessionaires with just a handful of people through to some of the largest European providers of both IT and Print Solutions, but regardless of your business profile as a reseller/dealer, most have the same challenges when it comes to solutions sales.

Most of them have been very successful at shifting devices and wrapping an MPS contract around them for years now, and still have that at the core of their business, but why are many still reluctant or afraid of REALLY getting involved in solutions?

That’s actual solutions selling we talk about, not just bolting on a Pull Print solution from the usual few vendors.

Let’s be honest here, some sales people can often view solution sales somewhat negatively, and I was no exception a number of years ago. Why try and introduce solutions sales that are complex, increase the total price, have to involve other parties, might get in the way of a hardware/MPS contract and worst of all can elongate the sales process?!

I think it would be fair to say that in some cases, one or more of these things can occasionally happen with particular solutions out there on the market, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

We all know deep down that solution sales can in fact enhance your offering, make you look better than your competitors when they don’t talk to the customer about these things, and is, 9 times out of 10, going to make you far more margin than shifting boxes.

Hardware or “boxes” have very little margin left in it these days, this is nothing new, but with so many MPS providers out there now competing for the same customers, clicks are heading the same way too!

  • Have you noticed how many more competitors are involved in each of your MPS opportunities?
  • Have you noticed new competitors appearing in your deals, which you never used to come up against before?

So what or how can you get started with solutions properly, and get back to the good old days of making good margin rather than the few percentage points available in hardware and clicks? There is no exact science, blueprint or guarantee of success to this, but here are what I consider to be simple, key first stage elements:

  1. Have 1 x dedicated person to solutions at least – Just 1 person can make all the difference, but they HAVE to be dedicated to it, not get pulled from pillar to post doing Print Audits, Technical Hardware visits etc with only then 10% of their time to spend on solutions. Its not that difficult to utilise an internal person either, who could turn out to be a solutions whizz kid!
  2. Don’t think that person has to be a technical wizard – technical knowledge will always help and a base understanding is key, but it doesn’t need to be a full technical position. It can in fact be more a sales position if you wish, dedicated to promoting the relevant solutions to your customer base, and utilising people like Fontware for any technical expertise or implementation when needed.
  3. Choose your solutions wisely – When we discuss solutions with our partner channel we always stress the fact that there will be particular solutions that may fit your client profile better than others, not all solutions we do will be perfect for you. Map solutions to your client profiles, or challenges they have had in the past that you perhaps said you couldn’t help with at the time. Become masters of 2 or 3 solutions, not a jack of all!
  4. Throw in solutions conversations at every opportunity – its unbelievable how easy it is to miss an opportunity when in with a customer when you are totally focused on the hardware and MPS element. Always be on the look out, always ask the questions and if you discover something and are not sure how you can deal with it, speak to your solutions person or call Fontware and let us guide you through it.
  5. Take advantage of your MIF – Chances are, you have an existing MIF littered with different types and sizes of customer who you have under contract for any number of devices – These are the very obvious “low hanging fruit” for you to start really delving in to solutions. An established relationship, your devices already in there, and the ability to embed your customers even further in to your offerings while giving you a far greater chance of renewing the contract when it comes around, all point to the best way to get started.
  6. Do it NOW! – I cannot stress enough to people that you need to at least have a basic, regular flow of solutions business within your organisation before things start drying up. Quite a few dealers/resellers have very recently mentioned to me that competitiveness on hardware and MPS clicks are at an all time high, and they just cannot sustain an MPS only model with the odd Pull Print solution here and there as a long term plan.  When they are telling me this before I even get a chance to talk about it myself, it’s clear the tightening has already begun.

Feel free to contact me to have an informal chat around this subject or anything else to do with the Fontware range of solutions and services.

Email: john.gifford@fontware.com / Tel: 01489 505 075