Office printing for most businesses is a simple problem.
Employees need to print, copy, scan and thanks to government regulations, fax. So, why is it then that we expect success when we propose a complex solution to solve a simple problem? You need to drop the old adage, “where there is mystery, there is margin” from your lexicon. Here’s why.
The first issue with the printing sales model today is that printing is not price sensitive. For most people, printing habits don’t change based on costs. The incremental cost of a page is not even worth considering. Pennies. I’m Canadian and we don’t even have pennies anymore. If people don’t think of print costs in pennies, stop selling it that way.
MPS? Seat based billing? Again, solutions to problems that most customers don’t recognize. As print volumes decrease, devising ever more complex ways to sell it means you’re adding cost and complexity, not reducing it. The biggest driver of print cost is volume, and it’s decreasing.
Another ramification of lower page volumes is less reliance on service and supplies. In simple terms, if a device prints 1,000 pages per month and they have supplies that have 20,000 page reservoirs, they may only need supplies every other year, and if a service interval is 100,000 pages for a maintenance kit, they may never even need intervention within the useful life of the device (8.5 years in this example!).
What’s a better sales model then?
Well, for starters, and with great difference to sales people and OEMs that spend all day telling me I’m wrong…
A printer/MFP is a box that puts marks on paper. It also allows me to scan pages and convert them to electronic documents which I can share.
Then again, I call a pen, a pen. It's not a writing instrument. A car is not a transportation solution.
Back to the box. Good news! It turns out that customers still need them. The problem with these complicated sales solutions is that they require expensive sales people. They perpetuate a myth that print is mysterious. They require tremendous administration and service support infrastructures. They require distribution companies with complicated and expensive supply chain warehousing and shipping logistics.
What if you just sold the boxes as a simple service. Say $49, $69 or $99 per month. Print volume was irrelevant. The customer didn’t have to care how much a page cost, or track how much they printed—because THEY DON’T CARE. You sent them supplies when they were needed.
In other words, turn your printer fleet into a subscription. Don’t bother customers with complicated contracts, service agreements, and supply chain nonsense. Let them see/click/buy online. Let them put a straightforward monthly value on a defined problem.
Is this model for everyone?
No, but the complicated world of MPS, after 20 years, is still only about 10% penetrated. Don’t try and tell me it's unsuccessful because it hasn’t been sold well. Customers run away from complexity. Nobody wants a complicated solution to a simple problem.
OK, maybe that last line isn’t true. Let me correct it. YOU want a complicated solution to help justify your strategy. Customers? Marks on paper—they want marks on paper.
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