As any old farmer will tell you, good fences make good neighbors. If you’ve ever had cows make their way through a fence into your neighbors wheat field, you know just how important that proverb is. For most dealerships today, it is obvious that they need to start up an e-commerce business, but what makes the venture difficult is knowing just where to put the fence between your existing sales team and the new e-commerce initiative (and you need a fence!)
Having launched over 100 e-commerce sites in our industry in the past five years, MPSToolbox knows where most of the friction points are, or as we like to say, where all the bodies are buried. Failure to launch is a real thing. The biggest point of friction is the sales team. There is a real fear that they will lose control of their customers and their leads: their source of revenue. This is a legitimate concern! It should not, however, stop an e-commerce initiative, rather, it requires defining your sales strategy for 2020 and beyond.
The market landscape has of course changed, but how has it changed, and what is to be done?
What is common across ALL print and imaging resellers?
- Decline in pages printed per employee
- After 10+ years, customers that buy supplies for A4 printers are not switching to MPS
- Lower requirement for specialized print (11x17, workflow etc.) for small businesses
- Business customers are comfortable buying online and will not revert
- Most clients with less than 10 employees can have requirements met with A4 MFPs
- In-person sales model COSTS more than it generates in PROFIT for small businesses
That last point is a big one. Most owners, and especially those in sales management, don’t want it to be true. When you don’t want something to be true, you tend not to address it, but it is the elephant in the room that should be addressed. Making the problem worse is that those tasked with buying IT likely don’t want or see a need for an in-person sales meeting. Chances are, they even avoid them.
If this is the case, what happens?
Your sales team likely knows they can’t sell an A3 over the phone. They will try hard to get an appointment. Odds are they won’t get one, and the lead dies, and the customer eventually finds another way to get what they want: a printer that puts marks on paper and allows them to scan and email. They just don’t get it from you. Giving these SMB leads to outside salespeople to qualify is no longer a good approach. Here’s where the fences come in.
1. Create an e-commerce website and designate an inside salesperson as the digital concierge—responsible for increasing sales with existing clients and new small business leads.
3. Give the digital concierge access to all of the customers in your remote monitoring system. Let them go through the accounts and set up the devices and supplies that are not under contract in an online Supply Cupboard/buying portal.
Need help setting it up? We’ve been developing a new program called the Digital Sales Rep. It helps pilot and prove the concept to skeptical owners and sales managers. Interested? Let us show you how.