by Lisa Person, Director of Member Communities, CompTIA
Most everyone in the MPS field understands the role and value of these services to organizations of every shape and size. It’s a regular topic of conversation in our community, from the efficiencies and cost savings of a well-developed program to the ease of implementation for providers. That is what many might call the fun part of MPS.
Managing the customer-facing side of an organization is by no means easy, but many providers would rather help end users work through issues and options rather than spend time improving their own business processes. Of course, that scenario isn’t unique to the print and IT industries: it’s simply human nature. Most prefer the interaction over process development.
The CompTIA Managed Print Services Community collectively strives for the improvement and development of the industry as a whole. Members who attend our conference calls and live meetings, like our gathering in August at ChannelCon, leave armed with business-building advice and new strategies for growth. Nothing fuels the mind like insightful discussions with peers around the issues and opportunities MPS professionals face. Those activities are what drives providers to spend more time working on building and honing their businesses rather than working “in” their businesses.
At ChannelCon, our presenters discussed crafting competitive compensation plans and consultative selling tactics, and we offered a primer on how to use data analytics in an MPS business. Each was focused on helping providers grow their managed print practices.
Compensation plans for sales staff have long been a challenge for print and IT providers selling services. Jeff Bendix of Bendix Imaging and Kevin Morris from OneDOC Managed Print Services shared their experiences and took away some of the mystery and uncertainty on that area.
For instance, a managed print sales staff may be compensated based on a range of outcomes. The possibilities include long-term managed print contracts, hardware sales and leases and transactional sales of supplies. “What behavior are you trying to encourage?” Morris asked. “Think about your end-goal and design a plan around it.”
Attendees were also advised to bite the bullet and make a habit of holding quarterly business reviews (QBRs) with their customers. The most successful organizations meet regularly to discuss problems with their clients to not only keep potential problems to a minimum, but to discuss future projects and service opportunities. But many providers still don’t follow that advice. “QBRs are a pain,” said David Brown of PrintFleet. “They are monotonous to put together. They are time consuming. But you have to be out there talking to your customers because if you aren’t, someone else is.”
What should you address in a QBR? The most successful customer conversations are the ones that “create a winning narrative,” Brown said. “Always talk about the future. Talk about what their objectives are and talk to them about how you will help them get there.”
The New MPS Standard
The key to a successful managed print practice? Policies and procedures. Tawnya Stone of GreatAmerica Financial Services and chair of the community directed attendees to the new CompTIA Channel Standard for Managed Print Providers as an industry resource for providers. These are guidelines successful MPS professionals have used to build and improve their businesses over time. The standard covers four critical business functions: business generation, delivery and operations, customer relations and business direction.
CompTIA created a workbook to serve as a guide and self-evaluation for managed print provider organizations. It combines all of the content from the CompTIA Channel Standard for IT Solution Providers and the Standard for Managed Print Providers, providing insight into the best practices and policies of each type of organization. It’s a “go at your own pace” program, so time is not a factor (though quicker implementation has its own rewards).
Those are the types of activities the CompTIA Managed Print Services Community does on a regular basis. If you’re interested in these resources or looking for others, sign up here and open your mind to even greater success in the MPS space.