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Too Many Solutions-Not Enough Answers ITchat asked a Number of copier resellers across the country to provide their no-holds barred opinion of "solutions-selling." What do they really think when they leave the glare of the spotlights and the buzz of the manufacturer events? Whether you are a buyer of office equipment or a reseller this subject concerns you, as it dictates the direction that the customer-vendor relationship will take moving forward. Get me started with ITchat Copier dealer based in Greensboro, North Carolina sums up his concerns: "I find there are several huge software challenges:
- How do I (the dealer) make money? Software has limited residual income but brings high cost of maintenance.
- How do we train our people on so many different software packages?
Most items we offer do not include forward / backward compatibility which can leave the dealer in an extreme defensive posture.
I also believe we must continue to offer as many new items as possible to prevent our installed base from eroding. Because of software we now have competitors from more than just our normal local dealers. A lot of the solutions sellers are offering these items direct and are making printers an integral part of their package. Some go as far as requiring an encrypted data stream which can lock us out. We have been promised that this "NEW" technology will increase our meter counts which has become true. However I believe it has increased our cost of support more than it has increased our revenue stream. . . ."
Solutions, Solutions And, Yet More Solutions: All copier manufacturers place significant emphasis on showcasing an ever-widening solutions portfolio at their dealer events. And, while dealers may visit the solutions-stands and sit through the seminars, the burning question is how many dealer principals (business owners) are really prepared to invest their time and financial resources into delivering the much- hyped "solutions sell"?
Plus, few copiers dealers are single line these days. So, let's say you sell and support Sharp, Ricoh and Canon multifunction devices, whose solutions do you standardize on? Which offer better business benefits to the end-user, and why? Which solutions offer "best bang for the buck" and are easiest to implement and support? Which solutions do you invest training time in, and who do you train and how do you protect your training-investment….?
And, is it really true that transforming the copier salesperson into a solutions-selling consultant will increase the dealer's bottom line, sell more boxes and earn the salesperson more commission? And, how many buyers are ready, willing and able to commit their time and resources into a long and detailed analysis of their document workflow and how scanning software will deliver business-critical benefits, when there still remains a huge number of buyers who are uncertain about even connecting a copier to their network in order to print?
Future proofing your dealership and safe-guarding your MIF: And, what happens when a dealership decides to move product line? Let's say you have installed a wide range of ABC devices configured with 123 software solutions. But you have decided that you don't like the terms of business with ABC and switch to DEF devices. You could now find your business in a position where the 123 software solutions you have worked so hard to install across your MIF-base is either incompatible with, or less integrated with your new product line.
* Post was edited: 2004-10-20 10:31:00
Author2013-06-24 at 4:27:47 am
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