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CONTENTS Volume 18 • No. 2
FEATURE ARTICLES 10
Leasing Companies Have you stopped to consider the options?
COURTS & CAPITOLS Meeting Demand Dealers should be able to pursue supply options
by Brent Hoskins Office Technology Magazine
After we watched the nation’s financial market stumble in 2008, we endured a lengthy recession that pushed important numbers downward. Those declining numbers included the quantity of approved office equipment leases. Fortunately, the economy has improved and the number of approved leases has increased. As dealers see the number of credit-worthy prospective customers increase, now may be the time to stop and take a look at the industry’s leasing companies.
by Robert C. Goldberg BTA General Counsel
Original equipment manufacturers have become extremely inventive in their quest to maintain their profits from the sale of parts and supplies. Any threat to that lucrative revenue stream may result in a number of challenges.
SELLING SOLUTIONS The Selling Checklist Why a process is so important for success
by Nik Nikic Sales Optimizer LLC
Embracing MPS A necessary step forward in a changing industry
In almost every profession examined in Atul Gawande’s book, “The Checklist Manifesto,” the use of a documented, consistent, repeatable process, used every time, in every situation, improves performance with staggering success.
by Chip Miceli Des Plaines Office Equipment
As someone who attends numerous dealer conferences across the country, I am surprised at the number of office equipment and document solutions dealers who do not have a managed print services (MPS) program in place. MPS is the lifeblood of the future of our industry — it is as important to the document solutions dealer as a Web page and computer is to the traditional business owner. With that said, I have heard that only 20 percent of dealers in the United States have an MPS program in place.
Hiring Smart Does your dealership’s process protect you? by Jim Kahrs PPMC Inc.
A sales rep comes to you, the sales manager, and says he is leaving to take another job. When asked where he is going, he is very elusive. You jump to the conclusion that he must be going to work for one of your competitors. This leads to a search through his HR files to see if you have his signed non-compete agreement. Of course, a search of the files turns up nothing and panic begins to set in. This situation and many more have one thing in common — a lack of process when hiring new staff members.
P R I N C I PA L I S S U E S Change Management Easing the journey to new ways of working
by David Ramos Strategy Development
Change management is a structured approach for ensuring that changes are thoroughly and smoothly implemented, and that the lasting benefits of change are achieved. The focus is on the wider impacts of change, particularly on people.
D E PA R T M E N T S Business Technology Association
• BTA Highlights • Education Calendar
Executive Director’s Page
BTA President’s Message
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EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S PAGE
Attend One of BTA’s Education Workshops
ave you taken advantage of any of the Business Technology Association’s (BTA’s) various education workshops? If not, I would encourage you to give it some serious thought. In recent years, hundreds of BTA members have attended one or more of the association’s education programs. The feedback has been very positive. For your consideration, following are the dates and locations of some of the upcoming education programs on BTA’s calendar. See what your fellow members have to say about how they have benefited from these learning opportunities. BTA Managed Network Services Workshop — Sept. 13-14, Columbus, Ohio. Instructors: Mitch Morgan and Chris Ryne, Growth Achievement Partners. Visit www. bta.org/MNS. “The entire workshop was very beneficial with steps outlining how to put the process in place to get managed network services off the ground. I feel the phases and sales process will be the most beneficial in creating our building blocks. Thank you!” — Venetta Diesel, Millennium Business Systems, Cincinnati, Ohio “This course was able to provide the tools and basic skills needed to design and implement MNS/help-desk services in a concise and easy-to-apply package. Superb.” — Carl Schiller, DocuSystems Inc., Myrtle Beach, S.C. ProSolutions — Sept. 21-22, White Plains, N.Y. Instructors: Mitch Morgan and Chris Ryne, Growth Achievement Partners. Visit: www.bta.org/ProSolutions. “This was the best and most forwardthinking sales process I have seen before. I wish I would have brought my whole team.
The workshop was fast-paced with great information. Great job.” — Kevin Marshall, Copy Link Inc., Chula Vista, Calif. “This class was extremely helpful in allowing me to put together a plan for increasing revenue while also creating a more professional relationship with our customers and partners.” — Gerard Iannuzzelli, Des Plaines Office Equipment, Elk Grove Village, Ill. BTA Business Planning Workshop — Oct. 4-5, Chicago, Ill. Instructors: Tom Callinan and Ed Carroll, Strategy Development. Visit: www.bta.org/BusinessPlanning. “Th is workshop gave our management team the tools needed to complete a quality business plan that will bring positive interaction and results.” — Ron Carr, Oklahoma Office Systems Inc., Oklahoma City, Okla. “Not only did this workshop demonstrate the urgent need for a solid business plan due to industry trends, it helped define what we need to consider in our plan and provided tools to roll it out and measure our effectiveness.” — Astrid Sloan, OASYS Inc., Burlington, Wash. ProFinance 2.0 — Nov. 16-17, Las Vegas, Nev. Instructors: John Hey and John Hanson, Strategic Business Associates. Visit: www.bta.org/ProFinance. “This was my second time at ProFinance, and it was much more thorough and helped me see topics I missed before. Going once is never enough because of the information that is shared, as well as the everchanging industry.” — Monica Abair, U.S. Business Systems, Elkhart, Ind. “We now know ‘what good looks like’ and it is a starting point for us to manage our business in a more effective manner and plan future growth.” — David Goss, Indiana Business Equipment, Terre Haute, Ind. — Brent Hoskins
Executive Director/BTA Editor/Office Technology Brent Hoskins firstname.lastname@example.org (816) 303-4040 Associate Editor Elizabeth Marvel email@example.com (816) 303-4060 Contributing Writers Robert C. Goldberg, General Counsel Business Technology Association Jim Kahrs, Prosperity Plus Management Consulting Inc. www.prosperityplus.com Chip Miceli, Des Plaines Office Equipment www.dpoe.com Nik Nikic, Sales Optimizer LLC www.salesoptimizer.com David Ramos, Strategy Development www.strategydevelopment.com
Business Technology Association 12411 Wornall Road Kansas City, MO 64145 (816) 941-3100 www.bta.org Member Services: (800) 505-2821 BTA Legal Hotline: (800) 869-6688 Valerie Briseno Membership & Marketing Manager firstname.lastname@example.org Mary Hopkins Database Administrator email@example.com Teresa Leerar Bookkeeper firstname.lastname@example.org Brian Smith Membership Sales Representative email@example.com Photo Credits: BananaStock, Comstock, Jupiterimages and Stockbyte. Cover created by Bruce Quade, Brand X Studio. ©2011 by the Business Technology Association. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any means without the written permission of the publisher. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of published material. However, the publisher assumes no liability for errors in articles nor are opinions expressed necessarily those of the publisher.
6 | w w w. o f f i c e t e c h n o l o g ymag.com | August 2011
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BTA PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE 2011-2012 Board of Directors
Looking Back, ‘Only BTA Has Survived’
expect that you have noticed that the Business Technology Association (BTA) has been making strides in recent years. We have added a number of member benefit programs and, most recently, have boosted the number of our district education and networking events. By year’s end, we will have hosted five of these events in 2011. Dealers and others have responded to these strides. On June 30, we completed our third consecutive year with a positive membership retention rate. This has not always been the case. As the number of independent dealerships in the United States declined, BTA saw its membership decline for a number of years. It appears those declines are now behind us. The driver of the “rebirth” of BTA was really quite simple. Several years ago, BTA’s volunteer leadership and the BTA staff in Kansas City, Mo., under the leadership of Executive Director Brent Hoskins, took a serious look at the association. The number of independent office technology dealerships had declined, but there were still many dealers in the industry, all of them seeking guidance and support. Our thinking: There was no reason to allow the association to become stagnant. The number of dealers had declined, but the need for a strong BTA persisted. So, we rolled up our sleeves, focused on strengthening BTA and sought ways to increase the value of membership. As mentioned, one of our strides, which has been a very visible reflection of BTA’s rebirth, is the recent expansion of our district events lineup. The events have been very well received by dealers and the industry is taking note. We were pleased to see, for example, an acknowledgement of BTA’s
efforts in the June issue of Frank Cannata’s, The Cannata Report. One of Frank’s articles appeared with the eye-catching heading: “Seybold, Xplor, COMDEX and BTA.” “In reviewing what we wrote about 15 years ago, a few shows were very prominent: Seybold, Xplor, COMDEX and BTA. Only BTA has survived,” Frank wrote, noting that he believes BTA does a good job of providing valuable educational content at its district events. “The others disappeared because they refused to reinvent themselves and really did not listen to the manufacturers who paid their freight. They thought the train ride would never end. There is a lesson here that applies to us all — you have to constantly modify or change the way you do business or you will become as extinct as the Dodo bird. Listen to your customers, and they will tell you what they need from you and how they require it to be delivered. There are things you can learn when you look at the history of this or any other industry.” That’s what we did. We listened to our dealer members. The type of learning and camaraderie opportunities they were looking for today became clear to us. Likewise, vendors made it clear that they were seeking new ways to connect with independent dealers. The result was the revitalization of BTA’s efforts to bring dealers and vendors together regionally through our district education and networking events. I hope to see you at one of these events this fall. Each is designed with you in mind. Keep your eye on BTA. The strides will continue. Know that we are focused on the knowledge that this is your association. BTA was established by dealers in 1926. Today, it remains focused on dealers and is governed by its dealer members. Thank you for supporting the “new” BTA. — Tom Ouellette
President Tom Ouellette Budget Document Technology 251 Goddard Road Lewiston, ME 04240 firstname.lastname@example.org President-Elect Terence Chapman Business Electronics Corp. 219 Oxmoor Circle Birmingham, AL 35209 email@example.com Vice President Todd J. Fitzsimons Network Imaging LLC 122 Spring St. Southington, CT 06489 firstname.lastname@example.org BTA East Rob Richardson Allied Document Solutions & Services Inc. 200 Church St. Swedesboro, NJ 08085 email@example.com BTA Mid-America Ron Hulett U.S. Business Systems Inc. 3221 Southview Drive Elkhart, IN 46514 firstname.lastname@example.org BTA Southeast Jerry Jackson All South Copiers Inc. 3610 Kennesaw N. Industrial Parkway., Ste. D Kennesaw, GA 30144 email@example.com BTA West Ronelle Ingram Steven Enterprises Inc. 17952 Sky Park Circle, Ste. E Irvine, CA 92614 firstname.lastname@example.org Ex-Officio/Immediate Past President Rock Janecek Burtronics Business Systems Inc. 216 S. Arrowhead Ave. San Bernardino, CA 92408 email@example.com Ex-Officio/General Counsel Robert C. Goldberg Schoenberg Finkel Newman & Rosenberg LLC 222 S. Riverside Plaza, Ste. 2100 Chicago, IL 60606 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Leasing Companies Have you stopped to consider the options? by: Brent Hoskins, Office Technology Magazine
fter we watched the nation’s financial market stumble in 2008, we endured an unwelcome and lengthy recession that pushed far too many important numbers downward. Those declining numbers included the quantity of approved office equipment leases. As the U.S. economy goes, so, too, does the leasing industry. Fortunately, the economy has improved and the number of approved leases has increased. “Pre-recession, we were running with pretty consistent approval ratios, right at or near 80 percent,” says David Pohlman, executive vice president and chief operating officer for GreatAmerica Leasing Corp. “At the depth of the recession, the numbers dropped all the way down, on average, to the low to mid-60s percentile.” After the recession ended, equipment lessors began to see some welcomed strides. “In March or April of last year, we started to see a dramatic turn,” Pohlman says. “Today, we are back to the mid-70s as an average. I would say the best of our dealer customers — those who have been with us for a long time and are consistent month to month — are right back where they were pre-recession.” Fred Carollo, general manager for office products at EverBank Commercial Finance, offers a similar positive assessment. “There have been a number of positive trends this year,” he says. “We have definitely seen a steady improvement in the approval ratios. Plus, the quality of applications has definitely improved. Companies that are looking to lease equipment at this point are probably in pretty good financial standing.” As dealers see the number of credit-worthy prospective customers increase, now may be the time to stop and consider their options by taking a closer look at the industry’s leasing companies. However, in doing so, they will want to remain wary of companies that are not treating dealers in a fair and equitable manner. “I think the recession purged the industry of some of the individuals and organizations that adhered to a lot of bad practices,” says David English, executive vice president of LEAF Commercial Capital Inc. “But as long as
human beings and money are involved, the opportunity for mischief and bad behavior is going to be there.” Dealers should ask many questions when working with a leasing company, particularly for the first time, English says. “The dealership is going to entrust its customer to a leasing company, and that is a longterm relationship,” he explains. “It is cradle to grave, so any question is a fair question for the dealer to ask.” English offers a sampling of the types of questions dealers should ask: “‘How do you approve the customer? How do you document the customer? How are you going to fund the transaction? Once the transaction is funded, what are your customer service processes? What are your collection processes? On the back end, what is in the document? What are your notification requirements, if any, on fair-market value transactions?’” He adds: “The dealer should look for total transparency from the leasing company.” Pohlman recommends being inquisitive as well and suggests a “get-it-in-writing” approach. “There are a lot of questions that dealers need to ask regarding the leasing company’s procedures in handling the dealer’s business,” he says, noting that while the recession may have purged some of the leasing companies with questionable practices, others are coming back with their “pre-recession marketing strategies,” such as offering suspiciously low rates. Today, some leasing companies are returning to the practice of promoting lease rates “that are not sustainable,” Pohlman says. “When you have been in the industry as long as I have, you understand the cost structures. When you do the math, you can see that there is no way some of the rates being offered are sustainable. You just know from history that they will find a way to make their money. The downside is that they find a lot of creative ways to do this.” Pohlman cites the rise of end-of-lease “loss and damage” fees that some leasing companies impose as among additional back-end charges that tend to emerge when
10 | w w w. o f f i c e t e c h n o l o gymag.com | August 2011
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there is a low rate on the end-of-lease issues were front end. “This has reamong the topics of discus“At EverBank, we do sulted in a virtual tsunami sion. “We have been working allow early equipment of activity among some of on new documentation and returns in the form of a our competitors,” he says. “It modifications to the lease trade-up or a buyout. is a way for them to recoup agreement to address these And, the earlier we can the value of their equipment very issues,” he says. “We reat the end of term.” alize this is something that attain the equipment after In his article, “Equipment needs to be addressed to the lease ends, the better Returns: All Parties Should make it easier for the dealer the value position.” Strive to Play Fair,” appearing to close the sale and we are — Fred Carollo in the July issue of Office Techmaking sure that we do so EverBank Commercial Finance nology, BTA General Counin a prudent manner.” sel Robert Goldberg conWhile unscrupulous endfirms that unwarranted loss and damage charges are a real- of-lease practices have been an unfortunate trait among ity. “In several situations, I have reviewed invoices for damag- some leasing companies, there is a contrasting trait among es that appeared identical and unsupported,” he wrote. “This other leasing companies that is noteworthy. Today, dealers occurs where multiple machines are returned and the same can easily locate companies that are dedicated not only to claim is made for each.” providing leases, but also to helping dealers achieve success Beyond unwarranted loss and damage charges, Goldberg in the marketplace. cites additional issues that dealers should address up front “Our objective is ultimately to help dealers be more sucwith potential leasing company partners, in order to avoid cessful,” Pohlman says. “Our differentiating strategy is that any unwelcome end-of-lease surprises. “The refusal to accept we attempt to immerse ourselves in those issues that dealers early returns with full payment, relocation of equipment to are facing and the challenges they are trying to overcome.” a dealership and equipment returns to distant locations are Seven years ago, that strategy led GreatAmerica to the among the biggest issues today,” he explains. “Early return development of several initiatives to help dealers who are with full payment does not impact the lease company, but seeking to succeed in pursuing the managed print services enhances the value of the equipment. Allowing the dealer (MPS) opportunity. The company, for example, hosts both to pick up the equipment and package it for return is in the webinar and classroom MPS training. It also offers Fleetbest interest of all parties. And, requiring a dealer to ship re- View, a remote device monitoring software that helps dealturned equipment to the opposite coast is not cost effective, ers reduce administrative costs, increase sales, proactively not good for the environment and ignores nearby options.” service fleets and manage supply fulfillment. FleetView is Carollo says he “wholeheartedly” agrees with the advice the customized GreatAmerica corporate brand of the Print— and admonition — directed at some leasing companies Fleet and FMAudit remote print management systems. reflected in Goldberg’s comments. “At EverBank, we do alGreatAmerica also helps dealers with the development and low early equipment returns in the form of a trade-up or a implementation of an MPS business plan, and can help dealbuyout,” he says. “And, the earlier we can attain the equip- ers hire the right people to more effectively pursue the MPS ment after the lease ends, the better the value position. If we opportunity. “We discovered early on that dealers struggle to see a copier that has been sitting somewhere for two years, it determine the differences between the profile of a successdoesn’t do anybody any good. Regarding the shipping loca- ful copier sales rep versus someone who will be successful tion, we try to accommodate the dealer. That concern has selling a managed print product,” Pohlman says. “So, we have been raised to us by a number of dealers, and so we have developed profiles that help dealers hire the right people, so included in the contract where the equipment is going to be that their chances of success with MPS are enhanced.” returned, whether it be a specific geographic area or within Given its goal of helping dealers be more successful, among a certain mile range.” GreatAmerica’s latest efforts is its Collabrance initiative, Noting that the end-of-lease issues cited by Goldberg providing dealers the tools necessary to pursue the growing are “very complex,” given that they involve, in some cases, managed IT services opportunity. These include — within both an originating dealer and a new dealer, Bryan Spen- GreatAmerica’s offices — a network operations center, rece, vice president of business development for LEAF, says mote help desk and remote monitoring software. “We saw his company’s management team recently completed a that having all of the infrastructure and tools necessary for “pretty extensive road show,” visiting dealerships where all but the largest dealers was prohibitively expensive,” says 12 | w w w. o f f i c e t e c h n o l o gymag.com | August 2011
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strong focus for us.” Pohlman, regarding the de“The dealer’s responsibility With the recession in the cision to launch Collabrance past and economic indiand provide the infrastrucis to own the customer cators improving, are you ture dealers need. “The dealrelationship, be involved stopping to look at the oper’s responsibility is to own with the on-site assessment tions, perhaps moving to a the customer relationship, to get the customer up and leasing company that probe involved with the on-site running, and anything vides more than equipment assessment to get the cuson-site that is ever needed leases? Kenneth Sanders, tomer up and running, and vice president of marketing anything on-site that is ever from a technical remediation perspective.” for LEAF, shares a perspecneeded from a technical re— David Pohlman tive that is becoming commediation perspective.” GreatAmerica Leasing Corp. monplace within leasing Other leasing companies companies: “Our view is also offer services outside of equipment leasing. Executives at both EverBank and LEAF this: Dealers are bringing us customers; how express pride in their companies’ efforts to help dealers in can we bring them customers? That is bethe MPS arena, through dealer education, support tools, coming a huge focus for us.” Brent Hoskins, executive director of the etc. Says LEAF’s Spence: “We are investing a lot right now Business Technology Association, is editor in our MPS platform and business practices.” Says Everof Office Technology magazine. Bank’s Carollo: “MPS is an area that some lessors are foHe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. cused on, while some are not. At EverBank, it is definitely a
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Embracing MPS A necessary step forward in a changing industry by: Chip Miceli, Des Plaines Office Equipment
s someone who attends numerous dealer conferences across the country, I am surprised at the number of office equipment and document solutions dealers who do not have a managed print services (MPS) program in place. MPS is the lifeblood of the future for our industry — it is as important to the document solutions dealer as a Web page and computer is to the traditional business owner. With that said, I have heard that only 20 percent of dealers in the United States have an MPS program in place. And of that 20 percent, probably only 5 percent do it well. Th is presents a great opportunity for dealers across the United States, as there are many end-user businesses still needing an education on the value of MPS. Certainly, having a strong MPS program in place is a great differentiator in our marketplace. The first question a dealer who still does not have an MPS system should ask is how to set one up. There is a simple way to get into the game at a basic level, thanks to the “MPSin-a-box” programs offered by some of the larger providers. These outside providers that offer basic turnkey solutions will do all the heavy lifting if you prefer it that way; under this option, all you need to do as a participating dealer is sell the program and sign the customer up. Under this arrangement, the dealer and the outside provider enter into a fee-splitting arrangement. This is a good starting point, but it is only part of the opportunity that awaits dealers. For the individual who wants to maximize the benefits and opportunities of MPS, then going the full MPS route is the answer. Forgive the cliché, but it is easier said than done. However, it can be done, and if done correctly, it is a tremendous benefit to your business, as well as to the customers you serve. First and foremost, the dealer who considers implementing a full MPS program must have all the systems and infrastructure in place. Remember that as the provider of MPS to clients, you are, in essence, an extension of their businesses. When they run out of toner or a printer breaks down, they do not want to hear that the supplies are back-ordered or that your tech has five service calls ahead of them. There is
not a lot of room for error with these programs. A full MPS provider must have the ability to service machines, gather clicks and supply owners with products (toner among them) on an as-needed basis (translation: right away). So, how do you get from where you are to where you should be as an MPS provider? I believe there are eight steps you must take. (1) Establish a strong relationship with toner and parts providers. These providers are your MPS partners and they should be set up to ship to your clients at a moment’s notice. Keep in mind that this is both a proactive and reactive step. When a customer calls and needs parts or toner, he (or she) expects next-day service. Just as important, however, is the proactive part of this program where you, as an MPS provider, anticipate products and services that the customer needs in advance (toner, for example) and have them shipped before the customer requests it. You need providers who understand this and will deliver. An increasingly important component of the
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the entire United States becomes a poMPS system is having a tracking softtential market and, on a practical level, ware program (FleetView, for example) Brand your MPS even if you use this only to monitor in that enables you to monitor your clients’ program. Give it a your immediate market area, you still systems remotely and be alerted when name .... Whether offer a strong competitive advantage there is a potential misfeed or low toner, you ship from your over the non-MPS dealership. so that you avert a work stoppage even facility or from a If you choose to go with the Fleetbefore it starts. View program, there are dealers who (2) Have at least one technician on trusted MPS partner, will provide software at a price of 25 staff who is qualified to fix the printers maximize your brand. cents per device, so it is an easy point you will put under contract with your of entry as opposed to the investment of MPS customers and who is dedicated specifically to that task. Do not stretch your technicians too $50,000 for software. (7) On a practical side, as we built our MPS system, we thin. Have as many as you need. (3) Stick with what you know. Almost every dealership invested heavily in infrastructure, parts inventory, training ought to be able to handle the needs of Hewlett-Packard and software that would handle the many details of MPS. (HP) printers in-house. The successful MPS dealer will be When we send statements to customers, they need to be able to fix these in-house, on the spot. Many organizations correct. We have several technicians who work on printhave a variety of printers, including inkjets and Dells. The ers exclusively and we have staff to monitor our FleetView, overriding strategy is to be sure of what you can handle. If which gives us an at-a-glance look at the status of our cusyou take on something you cannot handle, your clients will tomers’ equipment and supplies. (8) I have addressed some of the practical steps to getting not be happy and your reputation (and as a result, your busiinto an MPS program. Now comes the question you may be ness) will suffer. (4) Brand your MPS program. Give it a name. Use it to tie asking: How do you compensate your team for providing into your company’s brand. We use the name “Image-Flex®” this service? It is imperative, in my view, to incentivize people to solicit in our MPS work. If you have a vendor that ships directly to your customers, consider providing the vendor with la- this business. It is doubtful that a sales team used to tradibels that reflect your brand. Have boxes made up with your tional equipment sales will just go and find this additional name. This type of exposure is the best kind of money you work without some direction and motivation. The question can spend. Whether you ship from your facility or from a of compensation is being discussed considerably in our industry and in meetings about MPS. It is likely there will be trusted MPS partner, maximize your brand. (5) Invest in inventory and be certain that you have the some model of consensus within the next year. In the meantime, a plan that seems to be fair is to provide ability to store what you need. One of the key benefits to customers who have MPS programs is the dealer’s ability to be an incentive that is 10 percent of the value of the contract. proactive. If a community bank on an MPS system runs out of It is a powerful incentive for your staff and has the potential toner, that customer does not want to hear that you are wait- to yield great dividends for your business’s bottom line — all ing for your order to come in from four states away and that while serving your customers better. It is a win all around. When all is said and done, an MPS program should not be it will not be available for two days. Nothing kills a business relationship more quickly than the words, “Sorry, it’s back-or- viewed as a luxury to the dealer, but instead, as a necessary dered.” That means that your inventory should always be suf- step forward in a changing industry. But the buy-in needs ficiently stocked to accommodate those immediate needs. If to be complete throughout the company for it to work, and your vendor is from a distant state, keep a reasonable invento- that starts at the top. There are a number of seminars and ry on hand at your facility. This means an up-front investment programs available on the subject, as well as a number of for inventory to be kept in storage. If your facility lacks storage resources available on the market to get started. If you are part of the 80 percent of businesses in our industry that capacity, you will need to look for alternative local storage. (6) Using FleetView or a similar remote monitoring soft- have not yet adopted this way of doing busiware will greatly expand your market. With this software, ness, the clock is ticking. Good luck. n Chip Miceli is president of Des Plaines Office you monitor a client’s operating system remotely. For examEquipment (DPOE), a Chicago-area provider ple, we can tell from our office in Elk Grove Village, Ill., if a of document solutions and an industry leader customer in Iowa, Kentucky or even Florida is having a lot in managed print services. He can be reached of misfeeds or when its toner levels are low. This information at (879) 847-6400. Visit www.dpoe.com. enables us to serve customers proactively. This means that www.officetechnologymag. c o m | A u g u s t 2 0 1 1 | 17
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Hiring Smart Does your dealership’s process protect you? by: Jim Kahrs, Prosperity Plus Management Consulting Inc.
here is a scenario that I have seen unfold at many dealerships over the years. A longtime sales rep comes to the sales manager or the dealer owner and says that he (or she) is leaving to take another job. When asked where he is going, he is very elusive. Sound familiar? Think about your own experience hearing this from a rep. You jump to the conclusion that he must be going to work for one of your competitors. Your mind starts racing. The rep handles a couple of your biggest accounts. He has been at your dealership for years, so he also knows where all of your other big accounts are. What if he tries to steal them? This leads to a frantic search through his HR files to see if you have the non-compete agreement you think he signed 12 years ago. Of course, a search of the files turns up nothing and panic begins to set in. Again, sound familiar? This is an extreme example, but it is by no means the only example. I have seen situations where an employee is hurt on the job and the HR files do not have his emergency contact information. Or, there is the situation where you reach the end of the first quarter of the employee’s tenure and he asks for the bonus you promised him when you hired him — but you have no recollection of the promise. All of these situations and many more have one thing in common — a lack of process when hiring new staff members. If you had a bulletproof process for handling all the steps and paperwork for each new hire, you could avoid much of the upset caused by these situations. The balance of this article is dedicated to outlining a basic process you can put in place immediately. The first and most important step to success is appointing someone as the hiring coordinator in your dealership. This person will be responsible for making sure that all
steps of the hiring process are followed and that all paperwork and documentation is collected, reviewed and properly filed. Ideally, this person would have involvement in the HR process already and be someone who is trusted with sensitive information like payroll, etc. Once the person is assigned, the next step is to formally outline the hiring process. When working with dealerships on this, we start by creating a new-hire checklist. This is a document that lists the steps of the process and the documents needed and has a line for each step to be initialed and dated when it is completed. Steps in the process typically include: collection of the application, résumé, references and any needed certificates or degrees; scheduling and completing all of the steps of the interview process, from pre-screening to making the formal offer; collection of all new-hire paperwork; and coordination of the basic onboarding process. Collecting the basic interview data can be challenging, as in most dealerships the hiring process is initiated by individual managers. These managers do not always think about getting all of the documentation needed. The best place to start is by assigning the receptionist (or whoever greets visitors when they arrive at the dealership) responsibility for giving each candidate an employment application and having him fill it out prior to meeting with the manager. The receptionist should also start the new-hire checklist at the same time. The application will be given to the manager who is interviewing the candidate and the checklist is given to the hiring coordinator. By doing this, you have alerted the hiring coordinator that a candidate has entered the interview process. The hiring coordinator must now actively manage the
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checklist through the rest of the process and he is the one ultimately responsible for making sure all steps are followed.
of your business from day one, so keep in mind that day one is actually before Not having the proper they start. paperwork makes the The formal offer also gives the canhiring process more Pre-Hire Paperwork didate something to show his spouse difficult ... and opens Not having the proper paperwork or family, which helps to involve them the dealership to makes the hiring process more difficult in the decision process. Once an offer than it needs to be and opens the dealis made and accepted, I would suggest potential legal issues ership to potential legal issues down the taking another step or two to get the down the road. road. It is critical that each applicant is candidate further engaged. There are handled in exactly the same way for legal dealers who will send a fruit basket with and process purposes. You need to have an application fully a welcome letter, while others will take the new employee filled out, have a résumé, a list of references and approval to and his spouse to dinner as a “get-to-know-us-better” event. do background checks, drug tests, assessment testing, etc. If you decide not to hire a candidate, you should give him Map out exactly what your dealership needs and be sure notice of your decision. However, avoid going into the reathat all documents are collected and reviewed. Compare sons for not hiring him — you may open yourself to legal the data on the application to the data on the résumé. Do exposure. It is best to simply let the person know that you they match? All too often, applicants will embellish things moved forward with another candidate and thank him for on their résumés and fill out the application with contradic- his interest in your dealership. tory data. This is a major red flag and grounds for eliminating an applicant. Initial Paperwork Now that you have hired the candidate, you need to follow The Pre-Screening & Interview Process up with all of the needed paperwork. There are legal docuThe interview process should begin with a telephone ments, like the W-4 and I-9, that must be filled out with supscreening. You can avoid wasting time interviewing candi- porting documents, non-compete agreements, confidentialdates who are not a fit if you spend 10 minutes on the phone ity agreements, equipment assignment forms, benefit forms, with each of them. The details of the call need to be written emergency contact forms, etc. Create a list of all necessary up and added to the file whether you decide to interview the documents in advance. This list needs to be part of the newcandidate or not. hire checklist. It is critical to check each form to see that it is I have found that the interview process varies from deal- filled out correctly and signed. They should then be scanned ership to dealership. Some will conduct one or two inter- and placed into secure HR files for safekeeping. views and make a decision to hire and others add additional If you implement and monitor this process, you can save interviews, field ride-alongs, assessment testing, etc. No yourself a great deal of unnecessary heartache. As the exmatter what your process is, each step must be document- ample at the beginning of the article illustrated, finding out ed. When you interview several candidates, you will find that you do not have a vital form as an employee is leaving or they have a tendency to blend together in your mind. I rec- when you are served with a lawsuit can be a major problem. ommend doing a basic write-up after each step. This allows Do not get caught saying, “I wish I had paid more attenyou to compare candidates later and to compare notes from tion when … ” Put a strong process in place and know with others who participated in the interview process. certainty that you have done the best you can to protect and safeguard your dealership. If you would like a sample of the Making an Offer new-hire checklist or have any questions, feel free to e-mail One of the biggest mistakes I see dealers make on a regular me at the address below. n basis is making verbal offers. They do not want to take the Jim Kahrs is the founder and president of Prosperity Plus time to write up a formal offer letter. It is important to take Management Consulting Inc. Prosperity Plus works with the time to do the formal, written offer for a couple of reasons. companies in the office systems industry First and foremost, it leaves no doubt, today or in the fubuilding revenue and profitability and ture, as to what was offered. I have seen too many conflicts improving organization structure using the arise from misunderstandings about compensation and Hubbard Management System. Kahrs can be benefits that could have been avoided with a formal offer. reached at (631) 382-7762 or In addition, a written, formal offer makes a candidate feel email@example.com. important. You want employees to have a good impression Visit www.prosperityplus.com. 22 | w w w. o f f i c e t e c h n o l o gymag.com | August 2011
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BTA HIGHLIGHTS BTA would like to welcome the following new members to the association:
Dealer Members Business Copy Associates, Saugus, MA Copy Print Shop, Calexico, CA Executive Business Products, Centralia, IL KMS Communications, Pensacola, FL Northern Business Products, Presque, ME Rumble’s Office City, Thomasville, GA Southwest Copy Systems, Albuquerque, NM For full contact information of these new members, visit www.bta.org.
BTA Legal Services BTA’s General Counsel, Robert Goldberg, has 30-plus years of industry experience. He provides members with no-fee advice and guidance on a diverse range of topics, including dealer/manufacturer disputes, dealer contracts, employment matters, industry documentation, legislative issues, sales tax matters, fraudulent telemarketing, business valuation, and general industry and business issues as they affect dealers and resellers. He can evaluate legal needs, provide advice and guidance, review and analyze dealer contracts, and serve as a third party to help resolve business disputes without costly and protracted litigation. Call the BTA Legal Hotline at (800) 869-6688 or check out the services provided online at www.bta.org/Legal. For information on BTA member benefits, visit www.bta.org/MemberBenefits.
For the benefit of its dealer members, each month BTA features two of its Vendor or Service Associate members in this space. BTA Vendor Associate member FileBound offers document management products and solutions to its customers. The FileBound senior management team is experienced in the records and content management industry, bringing more than 40 years of combined experience to FileBound’s solutions. The FileBound development team has a proven and successful track record of developing software applications and Internet solutions that have been implemented by organizations of all sizes across the country. www.filebound.com BTA Service Associate member Evolved Office provides office technology dealers Web and print marketing solutions. The company offers pre-written and customizable e-newsletters that allow dealers to choose articles from a large database and aggregate them in a newsletter format. They also offer printed, customized newsletters filled with your company’s latest news and products. This is a great sales tool for your sales team to open doors or leave behind a lasting impression with your clients. Finally, Evolved Office offers direct mail postcard printing, where dealers can select a template and then customize it with their company logos, contact information and products. www.evolvedoffice.com A full list of BTA Vendor and Service Associate members can be found online at www.bta.org.
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EDUCATION CALENDAR September
13-14 BTA Managed Network Services Workshop Columbus, OH The managed network services (MNS) opportunity provides a tremendous market for MFP dealerships. MNS offers a more cost-effective way for your customers to manage their current spending on IT support. In this workshop, Mitch Morgan and Chris Ryne of Growth Achievement Partners will show you how to set up a managed network services business in your company. Visit www.bta.org/MNS to register. 21-22 ProSolutions White Plains, NY Are you seeking a solution sales process that will allow you to take your dealership to new heights? This workshop, taught by Mitch Morgan and Chris Ryne from Growth Achievement Partners, is intended for sales reps, sales managers, specialists and dealership principals. Course topics include: Solutions Sales: What’s in it for You & Your Customers?; Solving Business Problems; Generating Opportunities; Utilizing the Solutions Team; and more. ProSolutions is the front-runner workshop for BTA East’s Grand Slam 2011 district event. Visit www.bta.org/ ProSolutions to register. 22-23 BTA East’s Grand Slam 2011 District Event White Plains, NY BTA East’s fourth-annual district event, Grand Slam 2011, will feature a keynote presentation by Rick Taylor, president and COO of Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A. Inc. There will also be five additional education sessions led by industry leaders providing insight and strategies that can help any dealership reach new heights. Dealers will be able to participate in networking events that will allow them to connect with their peers. In addition, there will be time to visit with more than 30 exhibiting sponsors. To wrap up the event, attendees will travel to Yankee Stadium to see the Boston Red Sox take on the New York Yankees from the vantage point of the stadium’s largest private suite. Visit www.bta.org/BTAEastEvent for more information or to register.
BTA Business Planning Workshop Chicago, IL Taught by Tom Callinan and Ed Carroll of Strategy Development, this two-day education workshop’s sole purpose is to set the framework for your team to develop an operational business plan. Using the case-study approach, you will learn how to use the Strategy Development Scorecard, industry statistics and a company’s SWOT analysis as the foundation of your planning process. Visit www.bta.org/BusinessPlanning to register. For more information, visit www.bta.org/Education or call (800) 843-5059.
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COURTS & CAPITOLS
Meeting Demand Dealers should be able to pursue supply options by: Robert C. Goldberg, General Counsel for the Business Technology Association
ver the years it has been possible to confirm the obvious — the marketplace is a difficult place to compete for every segment of the office technology industry. Manufacturers produce equipment and supplies and take all legal, and sometimes questionable, means to maximize their profits and market share. This is even more accurate when examining the sale of supplies. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have become extremely inventive in their quest to maintain their profits from the sale of parts and supplies. Like razors and razor blades, an OEM will forsake profit on the equipment to generate the recurring profit from supply sales. Any threat to that lucrative revenue stream may result in any number of challenges. Quality is an easy target to aim at when challenging remanufactured product. Statistics created or manufactured to demonstrate high failure rates, low output results and potential product failure are all designed to raise doubts in the purchasing agent’s mind. Taking the safe route with OEM supplies will certainly cost more and cannot be criticized while the equipment operates without performance issues. This OEM approach is fine until the economy slides and salespeople of remanufactured supplies remain persistent. Programs that offer “free” service with the purchase of supplies have proven successful in the printer world. Offering price points for both OEM and remanufactured product may open the door to comparisons and trials. A no-question guarantee assuring the replacement of “defective” supplies adds another reason to try the alternative. The greater the commitment and assurances, the easier — although more costly — the sale becomes. One is much more comfortable purchasing a used car with a three-year warranty than the same vehicle sold “as is.” Once OEMs see their equipment sales increase, but supply revenues fail to keep pace, they have a slew of weapons to challenge that slide. Typically, they have established operations with set budgets that include a line item for legal fees. Litigation against a remanufacturer can become its death knell. Attorneys are also protective of their marketplace, and charging by the hour forces one to lose control of the process and the costs to be incurred. If one is undercapitalized or struggling to establish itself, a monthly statement from your attorneys in the amount of $15,000 may be sufficient to call it quits. Established companies know this and often use litigation as a weapon against smaller companies.
Litigation can allege patent violations, copyright infringement, fraud, misrepresentation, false advertising and a host of other possibilities. This weapon is not only costly, but also diverts you from your business and its growth. It was refreshing to see Turbon International reversing the roles and taking on Hewlett-Packard (HP) in court. Turbon is not a small company and appears to have the resources to engage in costly and protracted litigation. The Turbon case alleges fraudulent inducement regarding HP’s short-lived relationship to have Turbon manufacture replacement laser printer cartridges for it. The complaint goes on to charge tortious interference with contractual relationships, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition and false advertising. In the first round, HP was successful in having the charges of misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition and false advertising dismissed. What remains in the legal battle are the claims of tortious interference and fraudulent inducement. Barring a settlement, these claims will be determined based upon the facts established and, thus, a trial will be required. The Turbon litigation has many benefits to the remanufacturing industry, even if the litigation itself is unsuccessful. In the marketplace, it will be difficult to disparage Turbon product when HP itself was using Turbon for remanufactured cartridges. Of course, HP could contend that it severed the relationship due to quality issues. However, none were raised during the relationship. The litigation further brings attention to the remanufacturing industry and the availability of alternative supplies. It also shows that the giants of the industry are not immune from attack themselves. The Turbon litigation will www.officetechnologymag. c o m | Au g u s t 2 0 1 1 | 25
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be watched closely throughout the industry. it is essential to evaluate whether the enThe expense, battle among unequals and hancements are offset by the lower cost of Remanufactured product impact of an issue upon the entire industry remanufactured product. clearly has a role in the are factors long recognized by the Business In several instances, dealers have found industry. It is essential Technology Association (BTA) and, before that they could ignore the promotion and that everyone in the that, the National Office Machine Dealers be more profitable. If the OEM program marketing and sale of Association (NOMDA), leading to the creis essential to your business success, it is ation of the BTA Legal Defense Fund. Over important that it be revised to reflect the these products utilize the years, NOMDA, and now, BTA, have reality of the marketplace. Parts and supthe highest standards. supported litigation of its members where plies are not always available from the the issue was of significance to the entire OEM. The earthquake in Japan proved industry. Two of the disputes supported by NOMDA/BTA were this point in a tragic fashion. Thus, a provision that allows an ultimately decided by the United States Supreme Court and alternative purchase if the same products are unavailable or benefit the BTA Channel to this day. back-ordered from the OEM is essential. Absolute prohibitions In the past year, BTA reached into the Legal Defense Fund should also be tempered by percentage amounts. Rather than to challenge proposed data security legislation directed at im- 100 percent of purchases, 85 percent may be more realistic. ages retained on hard drives in copier/MFPs, printers, scanThe introduction of cost-per-copy programs and managed ners and facsimile machines. As a result, not a single one of print services (MPS) has made the cost of goods sold all the the proposals was enacted into law. In an industry with domi- more important. In our law firm, our MPS provider delivers nant participants, an excellent approach to the creation of a no-name printers and generic supplies. If the supplies prove unlevel playing field is to band together to challenge restrictive satisfactory, we have the right to demand OEM supplies. If the practices or to support other participants in their disputes. printers are not fully operational 99 percent of the time, there OEMs have used litigation to protect their supply revenue are penalties. The failure of a no-name printer is not important as well as specific provisions of their dealer agreements. Sev- when a replacement is delivered, at no charge, within two hours. eral OEMs have imposed individual quotas for equipment A dealer who offers these guarantees to the end user must also sales, parts sales and supply sales. Courts have stricken con- seek them from their suppliers. If there are assurances throughtractual restrictions that demand OEM parts rather than es- out the supply chain, there is confidence in the products. tablishing specifications that must be met or exceeded. Where Manufacturers should provide and dealers should seek inthe litigation hammer has failed, OEMs turned to weapons demnification provisions in the event a product sold violates such as “killer chips,” patents and copyrights to discourage any intellectual property rights of a third person. A dealer who remanufacturers. These efforts have met with mixed results resells or an end user who utilizes an infringing product can and place their effectiveness in the hands of judges who tend be sued in addition to the remanufacturer. An indemnificato be unpredictable. tion provision cannot eliminate all liability, especially if the If remanufactured goods are imported from outside the remanufacturer was to declare bankruptcy, but it is a degree United States, complaints before the International Trade of protection to be sought. Commission have also been used to prevent competition. Fraudulent telemarketers have driven end users to OEMs Dumping cases, alleging the goods are sold below cost, have and dealers to cost-per-copy programs. BTA continues to asbeen instituted to prevent importation. Claims for violations sist law enforcement and end users in combatting fraudulent of patent and copyright protections can also be raised in this telemarketers, and this should be an industry-wide endeavor. forum. These cases take considerable time and are costly. Remanufactured product clearly has a role in the industry. The costs, uncertainties and ill will of the courts and com- It is essential that everyone in the marketing and sale of these missions brought the advent of the carrot to encourage OEM products utilize the highest standards. Emphasizing the posisupplies. OEMs have developed numerous programs to reward tive of your product is always professional. dealers for the purchase of their supplies. Since these programs As the U.S. economy continues to struggle, end users will be are optional, the restrictions are more specific. Several pro- looking for lower costs and greater efficiencies. hibit the use of competitive parts and supplies. The agreement To meet that demand, the dealership should goes on to grant the OEM the right to inspect and audit the have all options open to it. Together we can dealer’s books and records to determine if competitive parts make that happen. n and supplies have been purchased. These same programs offer Robert C. Goldberg is general counsel for the dealers rebates, increased discounts and additional incentives Business Technology Association. to remain dedicated. Although these programs are attractive, He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 26 | w w w. o f f i c e t e c h n o l o gymag.com | August 2011
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The Selling Checklist Why a process is so important for success by: Nik Nikic, Sales Optimizer LLC
ike has a good sales team. Earning the honor of top overall revenue producers in the company last year, his team members are all tenured, seasoned professionals. However, Mike has a problem. Even though everyone on the team made his (or her) gross revenue goals for the year, they are all sporadic performers. When several had a dry spell at the same time, Mike missed his monthly and quarterly bonus money. Despite their sales, his team is also not very profitable and has not made any progress in the transition to selling more services. After some tough questions and honest appraisal of his team, Mike has identified three issues he needs to address: (1) It takes a long time for his team members to take a customer from a prospect to a closed order. The team rarely forecasts accurately and, as a result, procurement sometimes does not have product available and orders are lost. (2) When he reviews accounts with his team members each week, he can never figure out exactly where they are with a customer. Since all his team members sell differently, he does not know how to help move the orders along. (3) Sales support team members complain about dealing with Mike’s team because every proposal is done differently and it makes it difficult to know how to support the sale. At the same company, Tina has a great sales team. Although her team was not in the top five for the year in gross revenue, it had almost twice the profitability of Mike’s team, which was the top grossing revenue group. Tina’s team members are almost 75 percent accurate each month and the sales support team prefers working with her group. Tina has been asked to discuss the success her team has had with the rest of the sales teams. Process Checklist So what magical quality makes Tina’s team easier to work with and more profitable at the same time? It is as simple as a checklist. In Atul Gawande’s bestselling book, “The Checklist Manifesto,” he discusses how professionals deal with the increasing complexity of their job responsibilities and how they
improve outcomes dramatically by using checklists. In almost every profession examined in the book, from sales to surgery, the use of a documented, consistent, repeatable process, used every time, in every situation, improves performance with staggering success. In the sales environment today, the routine task of selling a product or service to a customer has become so incredibly complex that mistakes, missed opportunities and ineptitude are virtually inevitable. Experts need checklists, which can be defined as written processes that walk them through the key steps of a procedure. As an example, let’s compare Barbara (from Mike’s team) to Thomas (from Tina’s team). Several times in Barbara’s sales career, she has managed to meet with a customer, quickly judge the situation and propose a solution that was so well received, the customer signed on the spot. Today, she often tries to recreate that success, figuring she can always delve deeper and propose an alternative if the customer does not bite. Barbara knows it is better to do a needs assessment before proposing a solution, but sometimes the shortcut works, so she often skips it and goes right for the close. Barbara closes about one of every 10 proposals. Tina has coached Thomas to always follow the sales process with every customer. He consistently performs the needs assessment and never proposes a solution without understanding what the customer needs. He has often uncovered additional service opportunities through this process. He delivers far fewer proposals than Barbara, but last year he closed four out of five proposals. He also sells more high-profit professional services than anyone on Mike’s team. Root-Cause Analysis So how could a lack of a consistent, documented sales process be contributing to Mike’s problems? n Long Sales Cycle — Without a consistent sales process, steps of the sale may end up being skipped or done twice. There may be confusion over what task should be done next or who needs to do the next step. Customers may not see a www.officetechnologymag. c o m | A u g u s t 2 0 1 1 | 27
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clear strategy to the sale and be distracted The process should be validated to by another vendor. Since there are no estabThe purpose of a generate sales. lished, steady progress markers, no one can All support systems (CRM, ordering, checklist is to reduce the tell for sure how far the deal is from closing etc.) should conform to and integrate with number of uncertanties and it can be pushed at the end of the month the process, not the other way around. in a complex procedure. very easily, destroying forecast accuracy. The process should be efficient and Everyone can agree we Ineffective Account Reviews — Sales under continuous process improvement. managers who are not enforcing a stable would like fewer Adoption and continued use of the prosales process with all their team members cess should be mandatory and reinforced. uncertanties in sales. can find it very difficult to understand sales Training is a vital part of the process activity. Without defined process steps that and no sales training programs should be can be verified with specific activity at specific volume, sales developed that do not support the process. managers cannot confirm that a salesperson is doing enough of the right things to close a sale. A sales manager may assume How to Develop a Sales Process that since a proposal has already been given to a customer, the Even if there is not a documented sales process published needs assessment has been completed. But without a check- in the organization, there is usually an informal way of getlist, there is no way to really know. ting business done successfully. It probably is just not used Lack of Team Selling — Part of documenting a sales pro- consistently by everyone. The problem with uncovering it and cess is to set up not only the key steps from start to finish, but documenting it revolves around historical mind-set and tribal also assign responsibility to the person who is expected to com- culture. Any internal group brought together to document a plete the step. Without a process, anything that is forgotten or process is much more likely to document how they “think” done wrong will start a “blame game” distraction that impedes sales should happen or how sales “used to happen” than how business. Support people know this and will steer clear of work- it really happens today. Brutal honesty, inclusion of both sales ing with anyone who demonstrates this type of flakiness. and sales support execution specialists and firm control over the group can work to bring out a workable process. A Checklist for Checklists Many companies find it advantageous to use a sales proFor a sales process to be successful, there are some key ductivity professional to document their sales process, often guidelines to follow. This is the “checklist for checklists.” in conjunction with other sales productivity process improve There should be one process agreed to and used by all of ment initiatives. One of the very best times to document the the sales team. sales process is just before upgrading to a CRM platform. It is ideal to have the sales process working smoothly before automating it; otherwise, a company ends up doing the wrong things even faster. Just make sure that the consultant truly understands sales and not just software. Checklists cannot solve problems, but they can help prevent problems from occurring. And while creativity cannot be managed through a checklist, there are many elements to the sales profession and creativity is just one. The purpose of a checklist is to reduce the number of uncertainties in a complex procedure. Everyone can agree we would like fewer uncertainties in sales. Nik Nikic, CEO of Sales Optimizer LLC, brings more than 20 years of experience in helping clients maximize top-line revenue. Nikic’s expertise is focused on developing “Elite Performance Sales Teams” through an integrated system of strategic selling skills, tactical selling skills and CRM software sales productivity tools. Over the years he and his organization have worked with many Fortune 500 companies. He can be reached at email@example.com. Visit www.salesoptimizer.com. 28 | w w w. o f f i c e t e c h n o l o gymag.com | August 2011
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Change Management Easing the journey to new ways of working by: David Ramos, Strategy Development
any companies struggle to be efficient and effective in implementing new strategies, approaches, initiatives, etc. The combination of increasing customer requirements, multiproduct and vendor proliferation, shorter product life cycles, increasing customer buying cycles and industry consolidation make it difficult to increase sales productivity. Throw in the trend that is rapidly moving your sales force away from hardware-centric transactions to services-led sales strategies and it is no wonder companies are challenged with meeting productivity requirements. My point? Your company is bombarded with change on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “How effective am I at preparing my people to manage change?” Change management is a term that is bandied about freely. Sometimes it is a scapegoat for less than stellar results: “That initiative failed because we did not focus enough on change management.” And it is often used as a catch-all for project activities that might otherwise get overlooked: “When we implement that new process, let’s not forget about the change management.” It is a noun (“Change management is key to the project.”), a verb (“We really need to change manage that process.”), an adjective (“My change-management skills are improving.”) and an expletive (“Change management!”). But what exactly is it? Change management is a structured approach for ensuring that changes are thoroughly and smoothly implemented, and that the lasting benefits of change are achieved. The focus is on the wider impacts of change, particularly on people and how they, as individuals and teams, move from the current situation to a new one. The change in question could range from a simple process change to major changes in compensation, policy or strategy if the organization is to achieve its full potential. Understanding Change Management Theories about how organizations change draw on many disciplines, from psychology and behavioral science to engineering and systems thinking. The underlying principle is that change does not happen in isolation — it impacts the whole organization (system) around it and all the people
touched by it. In order to manage change successfully, it is necessary to attend to the impacts of potential changes. As well as considering the tangible impacts of change, it is important to consider the personal impacts on those affected and their journey toward working and behaving in new ways to support the change. Change management is, therefore, a broad field, and approaches to it vary widely from organization to organization and from project to project. Many organizations and consultants subscribe to formal change management methodologies, which provide toolkits, checklists and outlines of what needs to be done to manage change successfully. When you are tasked with “managing change” (irrespective of whether or not you subscribe to a particular change management approach), the first question to consider is what change management actually means in your dealership’s situation. Change management focuses on people and is about ensuring change is thoroughly, smoothly and lastingly implemented. And to know what that means in your situation, you must dig down further to define your changemanagement objectives. Typically, these will cover: Sponsorship — Ensuring there is active sponsorship for the change at an ownership or senior executive level within the organization and engaging this sponsorship to achieve the desired results. Buy-in — Gaining buy-in for the changes from those involved and affected, directly or indirectly. Involvement — Involving the right people in the design and implementation of changes to make sure the right changes are made. Impact — Assessing and addressing how the changes will affect people. Communication — Telling everyone who is affected about the changes. Readiness — Preparing people to adapt to the changes by ensuring they have the right information, training and help. Change-Management Activities Once you have considered your change-management www.officetechnologymag. c o m | A u g u s t 2 0 1 1 | 29
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objectives and scope, you will also need the organization’s structure and ensuring to consider the specific tasks. Again, the that everyone involved and affected unChange management range of possible change-management acderstands the change process. Also, it is is a ... discipline that tivities is broad. It is a question of workimportant to plan any activities needed to involves ensuring change ing out what will best help you meet the address the impacts of the change. is implemented smoothly change-management challenge (as you n Making sure those involved or affectand with lasting benefits have defined it in your objectives and ed have help and support during times of scope) and how to work alongside other uncertainty and upheaval. by considering its people’s (and projects’) activities and ren Assessing training needs driven by wider impact ... sponsibilities. The essence of this is to the change, and planning when and how identify the tasks necessary to give change this will be implemented. the greatest chance of success. n Identifying and agreeing on the success indicators for Activities involved in managing change can include: change and ensuring they are regularly measured and reported. n Ensuring there is clear expression of the reasons for change Remember, these are just some typical change-management and helping the sponsor communicate this. No one likes to be activities. Others may be required in your specific situation. dictated to, so how will the sponsor deliver the message? Change management is a broad discipline that involves enn Identifying “change agents” and other people who need suring change is implemented smoothly and with lasting bento be involved in specific change activities, such as design, efits by considering its wider impact on your organization and testing and problem solving, and who can then act as ambas- your people. Each change initiative you manage or encounsadors for change. Will this be your sales, service, administra- ter will have its own unique set of objectives and activities, tion and HR leaders? Do you want input from the stakeholders all of which must be coordinated. As someone who manages who will ultimately have to implement this change? change in your organization, your role is to ease the journey to n Assessing all the stakeholders and defining the nature of new ways of working, and you will need great planning skills sponsorship, involvement and communication that will be re- to help along the way. n quired. You have to make sure everyone is on the same page. David Ramos is sales operations consultant for Strategy n Planning the involvement and project activities of the Development, a management consulting and sponsor(s). This involves planning how and when the changes advanced sales training firm providing sales, will be communicated and organizing and/or delivering the service and MPS information, including communications messages. This also requires project manworkshops for BTA. He also instructs a selling agement skills, so an assessment of your people with the most skills workshop called “Sell With Success.” He can talent and experience in managing projects is necessary. be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. n Assessing the impact of the changes on your people and Visit www.strategydevelopment.com.
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