This guest blog was contributed by Ray Loisel.
I am one of those guys who was selling managed print before it became the dominant discussion across industry events and launched entire publications and a blog like this one dedicated to the business model. Back in those days, I was growing a traditional copier dealership business by selling simple automatic toner fulfillment and cost-per-type contracts. I made the transition from a sales manager within a copier dealership to supporting dealers through the delivery of leading remanufactured supplies and core MPS program infrastructure support.
This has provided me with a unique perspective as a business partner because when I sit across the desk from independent business leaders, I can relate because I was in their shoes once. My experience and tenure in the imaging industry has also resulted in business relationships with leaders I have taken time to learn from as well.
Since joining West Point Products in 2010, I have led the expansion of our Axess MPS program to including remote monitoring software, the TCO pricing calculator and proposal generator tools, national service support and triage, online MPS sales training, and our turnkey solution for dealers who want to outsource the program fulfillment. Yet with the most comprehensive solution out there today to support dealers, I am still often asked “What is secret recipe to MPS success?”
As much as I would love to be the Colonel Sanders of MPS, I respond most often that solid MPS programs take time, discipline, key partners and flexibility. In addition, it helps to have business leadership that is willing to take a risk – because in all MPS programs and individual contracts, there is inherent risk associated with how the fleet will perform and how you will respond to that and still be profitable.
There is no greater lesson in this in our industry than what I have experienced partnering with the leadership at FlexPrint. FlexPrint was recently named one of America’s fastest-growing companies for the fourth consecutive year by Inc. Magazine. This dynamic growth is happening during a time when others are starting to talk doom and gloom for MPS. I believe many of these naysayers simply do not have the tolerance for risk associated with MPS to truly lead and grow with this business model.
Based on my observations of successful companies like FlexPrint, here are my observations of where and how taking risks can result in rewards.
Commit the time; be disciplined
Too often I work with dealers who tell me their MPS program is not growing at the rate they need, and they either pull the plug on their support infrastructure or reallocate sales resources elsewhere. Rome was not built in a day, and neither is a solid MPS program.
First, take the risk and invest in areas where you need help, such as sales training, software support, personnel, etc. Second, stay focused and set key milestones and deadlines; if these are not met, there can be major issues. Third, adjust and overcome those problems and move forward. Don’t freeze up your program because of one messy deal or a failed proposal. Be realistic. A typical MPS sales process is 60 to 90 days, and new reps need time to train and get comfortable prospecting the right type of accounts and closing.
If you are stuck and not sure why you’re not meeting your goals, review your program with a partner. We often help identify roadblocks to success at West Point by simply being a second set of eyes and bringing a fresh perspective. We partner with dealers across the U.S., and that knowledge can benefit business leaders needing program or account reviews.
Select key partners
Your business requires you to select the products and services you will resell to your customers, and you should always select those partners knowing they represent your local brand to your client base. The same is true for any piece of your MPS infrastructure too. You must vet and select partners who not only provide leading products (such as print equipment, supplies or parts), but also offer complementary services that can help support your program. It also adds value when your partners offer additional integration features to help automate ordering and workflow steps, responsive and knowledgeable technical support, and operational expertise in MPS program administration.
Your MPS program may require you to make some adjustments. This can come in the form of sales compensations models, program administration or even product placement. No matter what the source, you need to be ready and willing to make the changes necessary for your program to be profitable and perform to your clients’ expectations.
Know your limits, but be willing to embrace the delivery model in such a way that your business culture is solution-driven and ready to perform on each and every contract. Avoid telling customers no and instead have your team tell your clients, “Here is what we can do!”
If your MPS program is stuck in a rut, now is the time to think about your willingness to take more risks in order to achieve the business growth you desire. This may also be a good time to do a high-level business review of your program to determine if your people, partners and delivery platforms are really what you need to succeed in the future.
Ray Loisel, senior vice president of managed print services for West Point Products, is responsible for the global leadership of MPS programs across the organization. Since joining the company in 2010, Loisel has created the industry-leading TCO MPS pricing tool, expanded operations to Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, and launched a U.S.-based national service center. Under Loisel’s leadership, the Axess program has grown through additional services and by providing key MPS infrastructure for imaging providers to successfully build MPS programs.
Loisel is viewed as an MPS pioneer through his visionary leadership in creating leading TCO tools and working to provide more profitable programs with competitive supplies for dealers. His diverse background in direct end-user sales of MPS, sales leadership within a dealership and creating world-class programs for suppliers makes him a sought-after industry expert. Loisel has been a featured speaker and panelist at many industry events.
Posted on 09/10/2013