Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2017 and has since been updated.
On average, 5.4 people are now involved in today’s B2B purchase decisions (Source). As a result, B2B sales cycles are getting longer and longer, and differences in opinion make it increasingly difficult for decision makers to agree on a purchase. There are a number of reasons for this shift—increasing collaboration in the workplace, emphasis on strategic alignment, tighter control on spending—but regardless of the cause, the end result is the same. Salespeople have to contend with multiple decision makers and, to make their sales efforts more effective, they need to tailor their approach to multiple buyers.
Although there are many benefits to utilizing an MPS solution, not all benefits will have the same appeal. For example, a CFO might be more interested in material cost savings than an IT Manager, but an IT Manager may be more concerned with increasing operational efficiencies than a CFO. The way to make your sales initiatives more successful is to be aware of these differences and identify points of interest specific to the individual(s) you're speaking with.
The Myth of the Decision Maker
Many sales strategies hinge on the idea of a single decision maker, but the reality for today’s B2B businesses is that the decision-making process for products and services that impact an entire organization involves a lot of collaboration. When you think of the significant role that print still plays across entire businesses, it makes sense that multiple individuals and departments would have a stake in which managed print solution they use – they might want to know how it will impact their day-to-day activities, what the unique benefits are for them, how they will implement it and incorporate it into existing processes, and what the cost will be for the business.
You shouldn’t get too hung up on the idea of a single decision maker and focus all your sales and marketing efforts on one person. You will probably have one point of contact, but don't assume their concerns are the only ones that matter. You should demonstrate the value of your MPS offering to the people you can expect to be involved in the purchasing process, including sales or operations, finance, IT and individuals at both the management and executive level.
Selling to IT vs Operations
How you communicate the benefits of MPS will vary depending on who you're speaking with, your relationship with them, their role and their eagerness to implement an MPS solution. When it comes to an end user in IT, here is a common pain point that you can help them address:
- They have no way to manage a multi-vendor print environment.
If your company has purchased devices from multiple vendors at different times you likely have a mixed environment which, based on your knowledge of manufacturers, can be challenging to manage, particularly when something goes wrong. There is little standardization for error codes across manufacturers, but an MPS tool can collect device data and consolidate the various devices errors so providers can quickly resolve device issues. You won’t have to worry about downtime, calling a technician or trying to fix the problem yourself.
If you're speaking to someone on the administrative or operations side of the business, here's how you can frame your conversation to address some common concerns:
- Most of their supply orders are last-minute because they have run out or they have too much supply inventory sitting on shelves.
When it comes to managing supplies, end users are often faced with a feast or famine dilemma in which they have too much or too little of what they need. This is usually the result of relying on the device to tell them when their supplies are running low and manual ordering processes that are costly and time-consuming. An MPS solution can help reduce the amount of wasted toner remaining in cartridges, reduce downtime associated with a lack of supplies and increase productivity by turning manual supply management into a data-driven, proactive process.
Selling to Executives and Managers
While IT, sales, finance and operations teams will largely be concerned with the everyday benefits of MPS, executive and management-level individuals will likely want to know what the overall value of a managed print solution is. In their role they are required to think about the bigger picture by considering profitability, business priorities and the company’s strategic direction. Beyond simply thinking about these things, they are also responsible for establishing objectives and ensuring their teams achieve their targets.
As such, how you communicate the value of MPS will be different from the points above. Here are a couple examples of common concerns that executives and managers may have and how you can respond to them:
- They do not have a print strategy.
Defining print strategies and processes is the first step to increasing efficiency and savings, but without a framework to support them, businesses can struggle to encourage adoption and ensure compliance. An MPS solution provides customers with device data that serves as the foundation of their strategy, accurately identifying areas for improvement, opportunities for cost savings and more. As your MPS partner, we can help you create a strategy that reflects your business practices while also streamlining print-related processes. The various features of the solution—user management, reports and alerts, roles and permissions—can be used to support this strategy.
- They have no insight into their print-related expenses.
In today’s competitive markets, these are major economic incentives for implementing an MPS solution. According to a study conducted by Gartner, 90% of companies don’t know how much they spend on print. MPS can give you insight into your costs and help you save up to 30% on print-related expenses. Can you afford not to know how much you're spending or how much you can be saving on day-to-day printing?
There are a number benefits that MPS offers for both providers and end users, but unless you're able to engage your prospects by highlighting the benefits that are most relevant and impactful to them, you may not be able to effectively communicate the value. Being cognizant of who you're dealing with, anticipating their pain points and responding appropriately will ultimately make your sales and marketing initiatives more effective.
Tailoring your message to the different people involved in the buying process is only one aspect of selling MPS. We put together our free MPS Sales Toolkit with tips, best practices and resources to help you sell prospects on the value of managed print. Download the toolkit for information on identifying and qualifying prospects, handling objections and more!