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CONTENTS 40 News and introduction A look to the future of ink and toner 42 Seeing the light There’s a glimpse of light at the end of the IT tunnel 44 Market update Keep up to speed with consumables 46 Big ask What should dealers do now to succeed in OEMs? 50 Leading the way We speak to a successful IT dealer 54 How to sell A guide to selling ink and toner

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IT GUIDE

NEWS

Welcome to the September IT Guide. In this issue, sponsored by Westcoast, we focus on the original consumables market and what independent dealers can do to succeed in it. We hope this helpful and informative guide will encourage you to get in touch with any of your IT news on editor@dealersupport.co.uk. Note from our sponsor Westcoast is the UK’s leading supplies distributor and represents virtually every printer vendor from Brother to Xerox and everyone in between. In fact, Westcoast distributes over 25 brands across more than 7,000 skus, so whatever printers your customers have, you can be certain that Westcoast will be able to help. The scale of the Westcoast supplies business enables us to take advantage of the best deals available and pass these benefits on to our customers with consistently competitive pricing. Westcoast also enjoys long-standing relationships with every major supplies vendor which means that we can help to bridge the gap between the OEMs and our customers. Many vendors have programs to support resellers by way of rebates, marketing support and advice. By purchasing from an authorised distributor, resellers can be sure that their business is recognised by OEMs and as a result additional support may be available. With Westcoast’s incredible breadth, depth and inventory levels coupled with our leading edge logistical capabilities, our customers can rely on us to deliver on their behalf often leading to their own stock holding to be reduced significantly and allowing the cash generated to be redeployed to grow their business further. On a daily basis Westcoast is shipping up to 4,000 orders and 6,000 parcels directly to resellers’ customers. Finding compatibility information, spec sheets and catalogue information can be a frustrating and time consuming process for resellers. In response to this Westcoast created the Science of Supplies www. scienceofsupplies.com site where resellers can find all this information from every leading manufacturer all in one site.

War on counterfeits extends to patent infringement Although patent infringement is a separate issue from counterfeit, the lines between counterfeit product and patent infringing products are blurring so much that the efforts to thwart both are starting to intersect, according to InfoTrends. In the case of both counterfeit supplies and patent-infringing supplies, education is a key component, says the research house, since often, the victim of counterfeit products are the customers who believe they are paying for genuine products but are getting a poor substitute, which can reflect badly on the OEMs. InfoTrends is making the channel aware of risks in selling infringing and counterfeit goods as well as reporting these goods that are being sold on marketplaces.

Westcoast revamps bid tool British owned distributor Westcoast, has recently refreshed its online bidding tool SMARTbid, an online bid tool available to non-preferred and non-gold partners. The tool is to be utilised to obtain discounted prices in a competitive situation. Since its conception in 2010, SMARTbid has transformed business prospects for many resellers and has seen an increase of new users by 25% year on year. The web-based tool streamlines the bidding process and offers a competitive edge for HP products. Resellers are asked to provide the product code they need, the quantity, a target price for the product and end user details. Automated requests are evaluated by Westcoast and feedback is provided within one business hour. Paul Hamilton, HP business manager for Westcoast explained: “SMARTbid’s ease of use, one-hour SLA and support from the HP business is key to its success. Through SMARTbid we can offer our resellers competitive pricing that fits within their budget – and recommend higher spec HP PC’s at the same price as they had been quoted elsewhere for lower quality hardware.”

$14.5bn The amount the market for software as a service is projected to reach before the end of the year (Source: KPMG)

THEY SAID We need to help simplify the reordering process so that customer can quickly reorder and get back to printing. At the end of the day - whether you’re printing out an important proposal or an outline for an origami swan, time is precious and you should never waste it.” Ian Cowley, MD of online reseller Cartridgesave, on the launch of the company’s new Speedy Reorder service

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IT GUIDE

MARKET REPORT

IT shows glimpses of light in dark economic conditions, finds GfK’s Andrew Walsh as he takes a look at how the market fared over the last quarter

Light at the end of the tunnel?

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he UK retail market continues to struggle in tough economic times, as the much talked about double-dip recession hit the UK last quarter (AprilJune) and consumer confidence remains at a low-ebb. The consumer channels have been the hardest hit by this situation, particularly in the multi-function device (MFD) inkjet market. This has seen a 19% value decline year-to-date (YTD) (January 12-June 12) compared to last year, and remains five per cent down on Q2 2011. Independent outlets within this channel are performing slightly worse than the market rate, with a seven per cent decline over the same period. The upside of this is that the business-to-business (B2B) channels are retaining their value somewhat better – seeing MFD Inkjet sales value decline by only three per cent YTD. However, the larger segment of laser printers has declined by eight per cent in market value. Independent business outlets are very much struggling, as customers look to multiples more frequently for printing hardware. Notwithstanding a four per cent value growth in laser printers versus Q2 2011, independent business outlets have shown a ten per cent decline in this area and multiples down by two per cent in comparison, despite an 11% decline for multiples in laser printers. Looking across to the IT markets, web books remain a key value driver in the market – with a panel market value growth of 165% on Q2 2011. Once split into the B2B channel, this growth increases slightly to 185% over the same period. Independent B2B outlets are missing out on these high growth rates, falling behind the market rate yet still registering 55% sales value growth in Q2 2012.

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B2B channels are retaining their value somewhat better

Storage devices continue to exert a growing influence in the B2B channel, with the average selling price (ASP) per unit up by 73% compared to Q2 2011. Sales value growth is up by 35% over the same period, which indicates a decline in volume demand of 22% as high ASPs begin to be a deterrent for some. B2B independents’ performance from this perspective is very encouraging; registering a 56% sales value growth on top of an 11% volume increase. Deskbound computing, in contrast, has declined by nine per cent in sales value compared to Q2 2011 within the B2B channel, despite a five per cent volume increase over the same period. In comparison, B2B independents’ performance has experienced a 34% sales value decline in Q2 2012, stemming from a 33% decline in volume. This demonstrates that multiple dealers within B2B appear to be coping better in the tough market conditions. DS

Andrew Walsh Account manager – office hardware, UK and Ireland andrew.walsh@gfk.com 0870 603 8236 Gfkrt.com/uk, Twitter.co.uk/gfkrtuk


IT GUIDE

MARKET REPORT

ROOM FOR

G R OW T H

During the average office supplies dealer’s darkest moments all may seem lost – but there is hope to be had yet in consumables. Julia Dennison analyses the market

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rint is not what it used to be – but it is still essential to many dealers’ revenue. Toner and inkjet cartridges make up approximately 70% of the worldwide office supplies market, according to Photizo Group, and this is growing – with unit shipments of both product types on the up, with colour supplies revenue projected to be the fastest growing segment with a compound annual growth rate of 6.2 per cent. The print supplies market isn’t so rosy here in the UK, however, where inkjet remains in a difficult and unpredictable state, according to GfK. Sales prices are essentially flat with only 0.1 per cent growth this January to June, compared to last year. Meanwhile, sales value is actually 3.3 per cent in decline for the same period. GfK account director for office/stationery, Greg Allen puts this down to strong falls in the consumable specialist and office equipment retailer (CSP/ OER) channel – independents in particular. “As the economic climate has become fragile, it has had a strong impact on the numbers of independents able to survive and remain competitive,” he says. “With digital workloads increasing, rising levels of smartphone and tablet device use, the demand for consumables has hit these independents hard.” There is brief respite to be had by independents in the laser toner market. With growth of sales pieces by 7.5% and 9.4% in sale value over the January to June time. This compares admirably to the overall laser toner market, which has fallen 3.9% in sales pieces and 4.8% in sales value, according to GfK. The CSP/OER channel continues to drop across laser independents and the total market. However, IT resellers and mail order continue to develop sales. Allen puts this down to the relationships these independents have with their customers. “Small business relationships have become much more crucial to the continuation of strength of independents in the laser toner market,” he says. “In order for this to continue though, the retention of custom will become the key consideration.” So where can a dealer find growth? Photizo puts a worldwide growth in ink jet cartridges down partly to a shift in the product mix from tricolor to single-colour cartridges, which has contributed to a decline in their average sale price. The research firm predicts high-yield cartridges with lower cost per page and purchase prices to continue to trend higher as printer OEMs push business ink jets as an alternative to laser printers for business users.

Meanwhile, green is on the scene in the toner market, with printer makers rolling out products with low-melt toner and fusing systems. OEM manufacturers like HP are pushing the value and quality of HP supplies above alternative or refilled cartridges at lower prices. While this competition is good for the marketplace, HP believes that compatible products cannot rival the performance and value of original HP supplies. According to research commissioned by the firm, more than 40% of all non-HP toner cartridges tested exhibited some kind of problem, while almost the same amount of pages produced by the tested non-HP toner cartridges were of limited or no use. “Wasting time to reprint low quality pages which cannot be used for the intended use means wasted money for the business,” explains Dexter Harriss, HP’s marketing manager for the UK and Ireland. For a viable sales opportunity, Photizo Group points to managed print services. Monthly office print volume dropped by a little over five per cent in 2011 year-on-year, which users put down to the economic downturn and the environment. Companies looking to save the pennies and the earth are turning to MPS, with about one-quarter of US companies having implemented some form of MPS and the UK looking to go the same way. But with page volumes decreasing and personal devices on the up, will business and consumers still be printing in five years’ time? Alex Tatham, Westcoast’s sales and marketing director, says yes and so the real change will be the impact of corporate computing. “If computing becomes a utility as pundits predict, then printing will have to follow,” he explains. “If the servers exist in the cloud, then printing will too. Control of printing will be increasingly important as will asset management. Office dealers can play a role here as they become more important in managing the physical hardware, delivering to the machine and help IT/facilities managers to asset manage. All networked machines must be cloud enabled and dealers must begin to understand this vital development if they are to take advantage of the change. Those dealers still talking to the facilities manager exclusively will not be trading in five years.” DS

As the economic climate has become fragile, it has had a strong impact on the numbers of independents able to survive and remain competitive

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Turn the page for this issue’s Big Ask to find out what dealers can do now to ensure their survival.


IT GUIDE

BIG ASK

BIG ASK in association with

What should dealers do now to succeed in the consumables market?

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BIG ASK

ALEX TATHAM, SALES AND MARKETING DIRECTOR, WESTCOAST “Margins are thin, the market isn’t growing and IT dealers are increasingly taking share. The value that an office products dealer provides must be tangible to demand higher prices. This value needs to go beyond next-day delivery. Managed print services can delight an end-user and do not have to be contractual; offer asset management with delivery to machine and this can transform your relationship with a customer without threatening contracts. Work your way up to offering the customer a fully monitored service by offering break-fix services (using vendor/distributor provided services) and ensure you know your customer’s print fleet inside

out. Once your end-user has decided that you are providing a valuable service, you can then enquire about installing monitoring software on their network. Then you have all you need to succeed. “Beware buying your products from office products distributors or through buying groups. You will certainly find that IT distributors can offer significantly cheaper prices. In a category that is highly competitive, being close to the online price is critical and there is little point in complaining about the margins you make on these products – it is often in the smarter buying of such products that you can be successful.”

DEXTER HARRISS, UK AND IRELAND MARKETING MANAGER, HP PPS “Consumables such as HP Printing supplies should not be regarded as a commodity sale as they’re hi-tech products designed for a specific print environment, and we recommend that dealers offer them as part of a value-added package of services. A total printing solution should take into account the business printing needs and utilising key printer technology benefits. For example, they could offer ordering and replenishment services which can reduce administration and cost as well

as environmental impacts by reduced transportation. “We’re seeing growth areas in colour printing and managed print services – MPS – so dealers need to understand the markets for colour transition and how an MPS solution can work within an organisation. Dealers should also be aware of new printing technologies and programmes to reduce environmental impact…and those to enable mobile printing.”

DANIEL HISCOCK, SUPPLIES PRODUCT AND MARKETING MANAGER, PRINT DIVISION, SAMSUNG “In the current market environment, quality and cost are huge influencers on key decisions so it is essential [that] we act responsibly by producing high quality products that are affordable to users. The growth of polymerised toner means that print quality is improved while power consumption is reduced which helps keep costs low… “Our overall market view for this year is that end-users will continue to recognise the importance of using quality original toners to ensure they are achieving the optimum results for their machines. For example, by using original toners this can prevent downtime for machines and replacing a toner cartridge with a new Samsung original toner cartridge delivers the same benefits as buying a new printer. Therefore,

to keep printers in the best condition and to print superior documents, dealers should always use verified original cartridges. The current economic environment means that the life cycle of printers is being extended and the best way to do this is by using original supplies that are designed to work in tandem with the machine. “To maximise sales in the tough market conditions, customer relations are paramount. It’s vital dealers understand what their customer requirements are and not to assume every customer behaves in the same way. It’s also important to strive for the best customer service. Helping with fleet management and providing same-day and next-day delivery are also good ways of keeping customer satisfaction high.”

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IT GUIDE

BIG ASK

MALCOLM DRAKE, HEAD OF CATEGORY, EOS AT BROTHER “The first key to success is to pick a knowledgeable distributor who can provide competitively priced products, the option for direct delivery and integrated back-office solutions. “When communicating with buyers, push original products with proven reliability to ensure minimum problems to the reseller and maximum end user satisfaction. If they are looking to save money, highlight that they can do so using original consumables, and that it is more cost effective to print economically, for example by using ink and toner save modes, duplex and booklet printing, and print preview prior to printing. In this way, the end user can achieve savings, while avoiding the possible hidden costs of non-original product.

CHARLOTTE ELMER, IT CHANNEL SALES MANAGER, KYOCERA DOCUMENT SOLUTIONS “Dealers need to work with a manufacturer who will support them, can demonstrate a clear European strategy for its managed consumables business across Europe and who will always provide quality support for genuine consumables.”

STEVE TORBE, HEAD OF RESELLER SALES AT EPSON UK “Dealers who focus on regular customer contact and the provision of excellent levels of logistics and service are those who will be most successful in selling consumables. “Differentiation is not always easy, but the value placed on high levels of service is significantly more important to end-users than simply providing a low price point. In addition, the most successful dealers are in tune with their customers’ business needs – product quality and reliability are crucial to customers. As a result of these customer demands, it is no surprise that Epson’s inkjet cartridge market, according to GfK, demonstrates a genuine share of 80%. Customers will not thank dealers for simply focusing on low prices; it must be remembered that Epson’s hardware and ink are developed in tandem throughout the R&D process to provide the best customer experience.” DS

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“Also highlight the need to protect hardware by using quality consumables, for example, some manufacturers’ warranties won’t cover damage caused by using compatible products. “This will help to build relationships with customers as it proves knowledge of the market and hardware as well as a consideration of the long term benefits of purchases. “It’s important to ensure a strong online presence and it’s essential to have a well maintained, regularly updated e-commerce enabled website. This website can be used to attract new business as well as keeping reseller costs low. In a highly competitive marketplace, a good online presence will help to differentiate your business.”


www.dealersupport.co.uk SEPTEMBER 2012

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it guide

dealer interview

Life in print 50

september 2012 www.dealersupport.co.uk


dealer interview

For nine years, Adrian Tolhurst watched his boss turn away OEM clients in favour of higher margin compatibles. In a bid to capitalise on missed opportunities, Direct Imaging Supplies was born. He tells Nina Rosandic how he has grown the company in just three years

T

ightened printing budgets, an increasingly saturated compatibles market, squeezed margins, the threat of the paperless office... None of these appear to have affected the meteoric rise of Tolhurst’s company. Three years in and his business, of which 81% of sales are generated by ink and toner cartridges, has hit a turnover of £700k. In April 2009, Tolhurst opened up shop from his Yorkshire bedroom with a view to starting his own modest and manageable venture selling print consumables. He explains: “My intention wasn’t to start a big business, but more so I could be in control and enjoy myself, have a bit of time to see my family and friends. But it went really well – it went really, really well!” As is often the case, he spent years not only learning the trade at his previous dealership, but identifying areas in which he could improve. “They were doing some things right and some things not quite right and I thought: ‘I can do better than that.’ So I set up on my own,” he says. Before long a friend and former colleague asked Tolhurst if he could get onboard. “I said: ‘Yeah, why not?’ He knew the industry and didn’t need training up. And then somebody else rang me and before I knew it I was like: ‘Flippin’ ‘eck, I’m recruiting staff here!’” he explains. Very quickly the sales picked up, although Tolhurst was wary of the company getting out of his control. “I wanted it to stay the same; it was enough really. I didn’t want the stress of getting all the staff and the big offices and rates and all the rest of it.” But seeing the growing potential, Tolhurst thought again. “I’m only young, I’m 33 now, I’ve got plenty of time to work, so I thought, why don’t I give it a go, and if it doesn’t work out, I can reel it back in.”

www.dealersupport.co.uk september 2012

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it guide

dealer interview

Casting the net Today the 11-strong team is housed across three offices in the plush Maltings building in Malton, North Yorkshire, supplying a national customer base of mainly schools and doctor’s surgeries. “It’s about 40% surgeries, 40% schools, and the other 20% is a bit of a mixed bag really; solicitors, accountants, it’s just a variation,” says Tolhurst. “The view with the surgeries and schools is that they don’t tend to go bust, so the payment is generally pretty secure.” The majority of sales leads are created via the company’s cartridge recycling scheme, the drivers of which are three websites that, when searched, feature on the first page of Google. Tolhurst set up RecycleInkCartridges.co.uk at the outset, and the two supplementary sites were set up in 2010 and 2011 to boost the drive. Not only does the scheme appeal to customers’ environmental efforts, there is also a charitable aspect. “They’re pretty busy sites and the customers are coming to us with their info. We collect the cartridges, take them to the recycling company, they send us a statement and we send that money to the children’s charity When You Wish Upon a Star each month. The scheme generates a lot of interest and if you offer a good service on collecting empties then you can say: ‘Would you be interested on saving money on your consumables?’ It creates a lot of business for us.” Meeting the demands According to Tolhurst, the wants and needs of the customer have changed. “Back before the recession and budget cuts, when everything was hunky dory, it always came down to service, and although the service aspect hasn’t gone away, I do think more people have budgets to meet, and they’re saying: ‘We’re spending this much on printer cartridges, can we get a better deal?’ Obviously we’re talking in the majority here, but as long as we can save them some good money, the chances are we can get the customer,” says Tolhurst. Direct Imaging Supplies offers customers, both old and new, significant savings, as he explains: “We’ve got a bottom price which we like to go on, which we know will save them a lot of money, unless they’re buying on Ebay or something like that. Rather than just have 20 customers, buying at a high price and only saving a bit of money, we’d rather have a bucket of say 50 customers paying a lower price, and saving a lot of money, but with double the customers in the net. And then, if any do swing off – which they do as buyers change or the odd thing goes wrong – it’s not as much of a dent in the business.” This ethos of winning clients, above gaining the biggest margin, aligns with the lessons Tolhurst learned at his former company. “Their business was purely a reseller of compatible cartridges. We were always taught: ‘Got to sell compatible, got to sell compatibles,’ but they were turning down sales for originals, basically, because the company didn’t want to make a lower margin on what the compatibles were. Most customers ask for originals. Why turn down the business on the originals if it’s what people want?” Beyond price and product variety, the team maintains service level at a premium, making sure each customer has a designated account manager and local companies are offered same-day delivery. “We hold stock for local businesses. We distribute nationally, so

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for customers in Scotland or Cornwall we tend to ship everything direct from the supplier. But we supply to a lot of companies in the town, so to get ahead of local competitors and the big stationery companies, we decided to hold a lot of stock, so if anyone rings up with an order we can get it to them the same day – we try and get it there within the hour.” Tolhurst and the team source from a number of suppliers, purchasing the majority of their OEM cartridges from Westcoast. “We’ve been working with them for years. We get all the support we need from our suppliers really, in terms of delivery and tracking and reliability. We seem to be very lucky, things rarely go wrong with our suppliers. It’s not like it used to be, you can feel in control of your deliveries these days. They ship direct to the customer and we are given regular emails so that we know where the deliveries are, which allows us to give the customer a call to give them an ETA. You don’t tend to get that if you’re ordering from a random site online.” Tolhurst has been preparing a managed print service which will be available to customers later this year. “I mentioned about my old company missing the point and turning business down. A lot of companies we’ve lost out to as they’ve said: ‘Oh actually we’re getting rid of all of our standalone printers, we’re going on to a copier contract.’ You have these customers who you have really good relationships with but then the people above them, like IT guys, are looking into it and cutting down on pence per page and getting signed into contracts for two or three years. Providing it comes up cheaper and providing we can offer them the right contract then we can have a slice of that pie as well.” According to Tolhurst it all seems, “pretty straightforward but we need the sales manager to make sure he can take care of the sales side of it. However, I think for it to work we need someone on it full time because there’s quite a lot of paperwork involved and it’s got to be done right.” Team spirit When asked what he thinks is the key to the company success, Tolhurst insists it is down to the staff, most of whom have come to him. “We have a brilliant team at the moment and making sure they are happy and motivated is really important to me. According to Tolhurst, it’s also about placing people in the right jobs and playing to their experience and strengths: “In football terms, if you’ve got Wayne Rooney on, he’s a striker, you don’t go putting him in goal.” That way his team gets the most out of it: “I have done jobs where I have dreaded going into to work, so I am determined to create a happy workplace.” When looking to the future, Tolhurst says: “At the moment I think we’re covered on everything I want to be covered on, but I do see the industry changing – it’s changing all the time. As a business you always need to be one step ahead and cautious, however, I think it’s a long way off until the paperless office has a real impact on us. However, we’ve just got to be ready, so that if we need to change direction it’s no problem at all.” The unprecedented growth of the business has not dampened Tolhurst’s watchful eye on the balance sheet, as he explains: “There may come a time around the corner where something may not go to plan, and you don’t know what that could be. Although it’s going well, it’s always good to be prepared for winter.” DS

In football terms, if you’ve got Wayne Rooney on, he’s a striker, you don’t go putting him in goal


it guide

sales tips

Print consumables can be a substantial part of a dealer’s business. But with so many companies and outlets vying for your potential client’s business, how can you ensure you stand out and secure the sale? Nina Rosandic speaks to the leading OEM manufacturers to put together some tips

INK

OUTSIDE THE BOX QualitY inveStment

Dealers should be aware of the key selling points of their print consumables in order to validate the customer’s investment in a quality product and secure themselves as a trusted source of advice. Customers may be tempted by cheaper, lower quality alternatives, in which case, Phil Jones, country head, Brother UK says “it’s up to resellers to make customers aware of the risks and benefits of both options so that the business can make an informed decision on their purchase”. Therefore, price remains a selling point alongside cheaper alternatives, as Jones explains: “Being tempted by lower prices could mean that they lose more money in the long run.” As Martin Kelly, consumables manager, Oki UK points out: “Selling on price only can lead to resellers spending their time fire-fighting; dealing with problems, instead of proactively selling... Make it clear to customers that the quality of the toner directly affects the quality and accuracy of output and the page yield achieved. Dealers also need to point out environmental features and warranty issues.” HP’s UK and Ireland marketing manager Dexter Harriss adds that customers “want to be rewarded for their loyalty and feel that they are getting a good deal.” Therefore, dealers should take advantage of multipacks, bundle deals, and cash back offers where possible to offer competitive pricing.

finDing clientS

You need potential customers to be able to find you, therefore an online presence is very important. Also, you must continually assess where the market is growing and who you should be reaching out to. Kyocera, for example, has seen an increase of over 20% on FY11 in its consumables business – and most of that growth has come from the public sector. It is also important to be in regular contact with your current clients to make sure you are aware of their needs. Do you have the company’s full print consumables spend? Are they tempted by any other offers or services suggested by a competitor? Do they have any other offices or sister companies you could be supplying to? Is the current buyer likely to lose control of the decision-making to someone more senior following budget reshuffles? Make sure you are one step ahead and having the right conversations with your clients.

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it guide

sales tips

Selling usage

Use more, buy more. It would be nice to be able to say that to customers and for it to stick wouldn’t it? One way to make this viable is to find ways to encourage customers to take some of their outsourced printing requirements in-house. For example posters, business cards, information packs, leaflets, door hangars, menus etc. Oki hosts a ‘What You Can Do’ section on their website to serve this purpose. Kelly points out: “If you concentrate on how much they can save by doing this rather than outsourcing, it can give a powerful message.”

Help from the experts

Many consumables manufacturers and distributors offer a wealth of support to their dealer customers. For example, Kyocera offers sales and marketing support, sales management, new promotions and sales leads, and Oki provides a selection of collateral for its accredited dealers within its PartnerNet system and on the consumables section of its website. Meanwhile, Ricoh has launched its Ricoh 100% Supplies and Parts Certification Programme for its dealer partners. With this in mind, it is worth checking with each of your brands to see what support they have available to reseller partners and to take advantage of it.

Service is paramount

If you can’t offer next-day delivery it will only take a client a couple of minutes on Google to find someone else who will. Kyocera IT channel sales manager Charlotte Elmer encourages dealers to “make sure they offer online ordering, timed deliveries, online tracking, later delivery times” as well as “good stock levels”. It is important to make the process as hassle-free for customers as possible. “Our research also shows that as more people are using the internet for these types of services it is increasingly important to have an efficient and effective online system for order taking and fulfilment,” says Harriss.

Signing up

Dealers are losing clients to suppliers of managed print and copier services. Elmer explains: “For those dealers still viewing toner sales as a transactional process, they do need to appreciate that a gradual shift is on its way as customers will increasingly buy MPS services as they understand more of the benefits on offer.” Harriss suggests that supplies should not be sold in isolation but as part of a total printing solution, “taking into account the business printing needs and utilising key printer technology benefits. For example, supplies could be sold as part of a package that offers additional services such as automated ordering and replenishment and managed print services (MPS).” Although a full MPS may be something you are considering or working towards, there may be other ways you can work with the client to monitor their usage and replenish stocks. Perhaps offering a scheme, whereby the client holds their own stock and payment is taken at regular ‘stock check’ visits. That way, your product is there before they’ve even picked up the phone. “Automated replenishment can reduce administration and cost as well as environmental impacts by reduced transportation - beneficial for both customers and resellers,” says Harriss. For those selling printers and copiers, Ricoh business generation director Keith Howell’s advice is for dealers to “sell hardware with a managed print agreement to guarantee service annuity and prevent supplies spend from going elsewhere”.

Green machine

Make it clear to customers that the quality of the toner directly affects the quality and accuracy of output and the page yield achieved

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Environmental concerns are often held above all others. “Business customers will always be focused on quality and TCO,” says Elmer, however, “many of them are also very interested in the green aspects of the technology and consumables they are using.” “Unfortunately, 94% of remanufactured cartridges sold will ultimately be thrown away,” says Harriss. Therefore, it is important to focus on the green aspect of both the production and disposal of your OEM products. Offering a recycle scheme, or partnering with one, is a great way to prove your environmental responsibility or generate customer rewards, and it can be done cheaply and easily. Kelly leaves us with this final thought: “In general, resellers form two camps; the proactive who find out what you need and strive to sell it to you no matter what, and the reactive who just want a consumable sale. If you sit in the former category, then you have the best chance of building confidence, trust and loyalty – and developing your business.” There are many ways to bolster your OEM sales, as Harriss concludes: “There are alternatives and it’s up to dealers to work with vendors to exploit opportunities.” DS


DS IT Guide September 12  

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